Since the Massachusetts Prevention Alliance was formed in 2012, youth substance abuse risks and patterns have changed. Data had been showing youth alcohol and tobacco exposures leveling off, or in some cases slightly decreasing, with strong anti-tobacco and underage drinking prevention education campaigns seemingly succeeding in lowering use and risk in the aggregate statewide. However, marijuana exposures have been on the rise since 2008 as well-financed drug legalization campaigns and the push to commercialize this drug have trended nationally. An opiate crisis has been declared in New England states as opiod overdoses now account for more deaths than car crashes in Massachusetts.
MAPA will be fully incorporated as a 501c3 by the end of 2014. New content and updates will be developed for this website.
MAPA has continued to focus on its Marijuana Policy Initiative. Neuroscientific research on the developing brain is giving new insight into the impact of THC and other cannabanoids on the developing brain. The human brain is now recognized as being under construction through age 25. Meanwhile, with pro-marijuana messaging youth are exposed to is escalating online and in the media. We see the formation of the perfect storm for escalating youth use of this drug with its attendant developmental harms. It is accepted social science that when perception of harm and consequences for drug use is decreased, and when supply and availability of a drug increases, youth use of a drug rises. Add to that increasing messages promoting marijuana use, and the prospects for protecting youth from exposure to this drug are becoming more and more challenging. A national response is just getting started.
MAPA has signed on as state affiliate of Project SAM, a project of the Policy Solutions Lab. Some links for back ground include:
- SAM – Smart Approaches to Marijuana
- National Families in Action,
- The Marijuana Report
- The Marijuana Policy Initiative
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: Drug Facts: Marijuana
- Dr. Thurstone.com
- Smart Colorado
MAPA will continue to develop policy positions based on the best public health and well-being of young people in the Commonwealth.