INVESTIGATING THE USE OF ENVIRONMENTAL INTERVENTIONS FOR YOUTH MARIJUANA PREVENTION BY COMMUNITY COALITIONS IN WASHINGTON STATE
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Despite documented harm associated with marijuana use, several states, including Washington State, have legalized the use of medical and recreational marijuana for adults over 21. These changes have potential harmful consequences for rates and patterns in adolescent use. Compared to adult users, adolescent marijuana users are at greater risk for more severe and negative health, legal, and educational outcomes. For a variety of reasons, commonly used prevention strategies for addressing adolescent and young adult marijuana use, like school-based approaches, may not fully support the needs of an entire population. Environmental interventions are another group of approaches to consider in targeting youth and adolescent marijuana use. Environmental interventions change the context of use rather than focusing on changing individual behavior and can reach a broad population to reduce overall risk by supporting an environment of nonuse and normative shifts. Looking to the literature on environmental interventions for tobacco and alcohol use, the present study examined environmental interventions in 52 communities across Washington State. Each community received funding from the Community Prevention and Wellness Initiative (CPWI), a partnership of Washington agencies, counties, schools and community members to assess, plan, implement, and evaluate prevention services in communities. Results indicate that communities receiving CPWI funding implement an average of 14 high-quality environmental interventions for youth marijuana use. Several community characteristics, including population density and length of coalition implementation, may also relate to increased probability of communities implementing high-quality environmental interventions. These results contribute toward a growing body of knowledge addressing a critical need to inform policies on marijuana legalization and advance the field’s understanding of how coalitions and environmental interventions can lay groundwork for preventing and reducing youth marijuana use, especially by state and local health administrations such as DBHR.