New Arizona program promotes responsible use of cannabis

Published: Apr. 20, 2023 at 7:22 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - A new program in Arizona is working to meet the growing need for awareness about cannabis and best practices.

April is Cannabis Awareness Month. In Arizona, the recreational use of cannabis was legalized in 2020.

There is a high demand for skills and education in the cannabis industry, and a new program at the University of Arizona Health Sciences is hoping to fill that gap.

The program is the first of its kind in Arizona. It will work to promote the responsible use of cannabis and awareness about the possible dangers and benefits of marijuana. This program is geared toward everyone across the state.

“There are many, many different kinds of things that are inside a medical marijuana plant, most of which we don’t know anything about,” said Dr. Todd Vanderah, professor and chair at the Department of Pharmacology.

That’s just one of the things researchers at the University of Arizona Health Sciences hope to educate Arizonans about. The new program, AzCANN, is in its beginning stages, but with a large increase in cannabis use across the U.S., education is vital.

“The idea here is to say that we’re going to do some responsible education, since more and more people are using marijuana, to make sure they understand this is a product that can have some issues and harm if not used properly,” he explained.

The program is part of the Comprehensive Pain and Addiction Center and is being funded through a million-dollar grant from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

“We’re hoping to reach a wide range of individuals in Arizona, including families, parents, adults, youth and teens, as well as healthcare professionals,” stated Dr. Benjamin Brady, associate research professor at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.

Since so much is still unknown about marijuana, researchers hope this program will combat confusion. They will share the most updated information about cannabis, answer questions about recreational and medicinal uses, and educate about the possible consequences or benefits associated with cannabis.

He said, “We’re neither saying it’s safe or that it’s harmful, but that there are safer ways of using it and more harmful ways of using it. So, we want to give tools to promote responsible use.”

This education is free and won’t just happen here on campus. There are plans for educational videos and to possibly go out to places like community centers across the state in the future as the program grows.