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Faculty & Staff Honors

Columbia: Substance Use Expert Featured in New York Times On Claims of Marijuana Health Benefits

In a recent New York Times interview, Dr. Silvia Martins, associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, noted young people may have gotten the wrong message when it comes to vaping marijuana: it is not harmful. Marijuana is increasingly marketed in states where it is legal to suggest the drug may have widespread health benefits, claims that are not backed up by science, according to Dr. Martins, who is also director of the Columbia Mailman School Substance Abuse Epidemiology Unit. The rise of marijuana vaping among young people, she said, “could be related to the fact it is seen as less harmful and less risky.”

Dr. Martins and other experts including Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said that the changes in teenage drug use may have a “curious influence: technology.”

To some degree, the rise in vaping, they said, stems partly from the allure of sleek electronics like the Juul device that delivers nicotine and marijuana and is made to look glamorous on social media.  The device is often referred to as the iPhone of e-cigarettes.

But technology may also be partly responsible for the decline in the use of some other drugs, according to Dr. Martins and Dr. Volkow. Who is in the middle of testing the hypothesis that teenagers may be partying less because they are spending time on their devices, and communicating with one another over social media, rather than meeting up with other teens where they might have encountered alcohol or drugs.

Read the New York Times article Teen Marijuana Vaping Soars, Displacing Other Habits.”

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