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Youth marijuana prevention on mind of state leaders

PULLMAN, Wash.—Two Washington State University professors attended a meeting led by Gov. Jay Inslee last week to discuss youth marijuana use.

Laura Hill, chair of the Department of Human Development, and Brittany Cooper, assistant professor in the same department, had a front row seat as the governor discussed strategies for reducing youth marijuana use, among other topics, with top advisors.

Hill said they attended at the invitation of the Department of Social and Health Services, who they have worked closely with on the prevention of youth alcohol, tobacco and marijuana usage.

The government has set a goal of preventing an increase in teen marijuana usage in the wake of legalization, Hill said.

“Even though attitudes about marijuana use have become more accepting, it’s a good sign that we haven’t seen any immediate increase after legalization,” she said.

Hill and Cooper, who are also graduate faculty in WSU’s new Prevention Science Ph.D. program, have been working closely with DSHS officials to keep them up to date on prevention research being done around the country.

“We’re letting them know what people in our field are working on so they can be up to date on the best practices for preventing increases in marijuana use among young people,” Hill said.

Additional research is needed because of marijuana legalization, Cooper said.

“This is a new situation,” Cooper said. “Now we have to find the best ways to prevent young people from using something that adults can use legally. Surveys already show that since legalization fewer Washington youth think marijuana use is harmful. We have to find ways to counteract that.”

Hill said they both valued the opportunity to see government in action and appreciated the invitation to be in the room.

“It made me proud to work in this state,” Hill said. “Washington is really cutting edge in using data to inform policy and practice, and this was a great example of that.”

Media Contacts

Laura Hill, WSU Department of Human Development, (509) 335-8478
Brittany Cooper, WSU Department of Human Development, (509) 335-2896