Learn About Marijuana
Science-based information for the public

Marijuana Research at the University of Washington

Researchers from a number of organizations at the University of Washington are studying a variety of aspects of marijuana, including prevention and treatment of abuse, its effect on the brain, and the epidemiology of marijuana use and problems. Washington's Initiative 502 includes several provisions that impact research at UW:

NEW! On May 20, 2016, researchers from RAND Corporation and the University of Washington, as well as representatives from the ACLU, WA State Liquor & Cannbis Board, WA State Dept. of Health, The Suquamish Tribe, and the WA Traffic Safety Commission, came together for the one-day Symposium on Legal Marijuana in Washington: Shaping a Research Agenda. More than 150 people from the UW, state and local agencies, and community organizations attended the event, which was hosted by the UW Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute. Watch the sympsosium videos here. (See also videos from our 2013 Symposium.)


Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute

Director: Dennis Donovan, PhD

ADAI's mission is to advance public health policy and practice in order to improve the lives of individuals, families, and communities affected by alcohol and drug abuse. ADAI will consult with the state DSHS to identify and recommend programs and practices for treating marijuana dependence. Other marijuana-related activities at ADAI include: 

Epidemiology research:
 Reporting on the prevalence, treatment admissions, and arrests for marijuana sales and possession in Washington. See also: Marijuana Use Surveys: Different Methodologies May Produce Different Estimates(March 2016). This document explains why surveys that ask "How many people use marijuana?" may not come to the same result, and should be read with an understanding of the complexity in asking what might seem like a simple question.

Chronic Pain Management and Medicinal Cannabis. Dr. Bia Carlini headed this project to develop an online training for health providers. The project was funded by the WA State Office of the Attorney General.

Impacts of Cannabis & Cannabis Legalization on Impaired Driving. Dr. Caleb Banta-Green heads this study funded by the AAA Foundation to look at the potential impact of legislation on marijuana-impaired driving and crash risk. The project was conducted in collaboration with the Harborview Injury Prevention Research Center.

ADAI Small Grants program:
Using funds from I-502 revenue for research at the UW, ADAI issued an RFA for marijuana pilot projects on the short and long-term effects of marijuana use and related consequences, and the impact of legal marijuana in community norms and individual and group behaviors. Projects funded for FY2016 and FY2017.

ADAI Pilot Research Projects: 
Using funds from I-502 revenue for research at the UW, ADAI funded 6 small research projects for the FY2016 period. ADAI projects for FY2016

Dissemination of information
 about marijuana via symposia, ADAI Library, ADAI Clearinghouse, and website LearnAboutMarijuanaWA.org (see below).

ADAI Library & Clearinghouse

Director: Nancy Sutherland, MLS

The ADAI Library & Clearinghouse are responsible for the dissemination of information about substance abuse science, treatment, and prevention. Marijuana-related projects include:

LearnAboutMarijuanaWA.org offers science-based but easy-to-understand information for the public, addressing questions or concerns about marijuana, with special topic pages specifically developed for parents and adolescents, and where to get help.

The Library created an Information Brief on Marijuana, and fields numerous requests from the media and others seeking UW experts about marijuana.

The ADAI Clearinghouse has distributed over 12,000 pieces of printed material about marijuana in 2012 alone, and exhibits materials at community events to help further disseminate prevention and treatment information.

Center for the Study of Health Risk Behaviors

Director: Mary Larimer, PhD

At CSHRB, Dr. Christine Lee is conducting theIndividualized Choices for Health, Alcohol, and Marijuana Project (iCHAMP). This study is evaluating an indicated prevention intervention among college students at risk for experiencing marijuana-related negative consequences.

Dr. Jason Kilmer and colleagues at CSHRB collaborated with Washington's Div. of Behavioral Health & Recovery/DSHS to implement the Young Adult Health Survey, which surveyed young adults between ages 18-25 in Washington, to explore their health behaviors including marijuana use. View Survey Results.

CSHRB previously conducted a study on "Personalized Feedback Intervention for Marijuana" that evaluated the efficacy of a personalized feedback intervention for marijuana use.