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CSU-Pueblo to Collaborate with Marijuana Education Initiative

Release Date: September 29, 2016

Cora Zaletel

Executive Director, External Affairs

Colorado State University-Pueblo


Press Release

Colorado State University-Pueblo will begin to collaborate with representatives of the Marijuana Education Initiative (MEI) on potential college curriculum to help students better understand and confront the challenges associated with the changing dynamics created by legalized marijuana in Colorado.

CSU-Pueblo President Lesley Di Mare said faculty and administrators have had preliminary meetings with MEI representatives in the hopes of collaborating on marijuana education and intervention curriculum. MEI Representative Molly Lotz met with a handful of CSU-Pueblo faculty members last week to begin discussions of possible collaborations. According to Lotz, MEI fills a need for post-legalization, marijuana-specific curricula that shifts the dialogue and approach to adolescent drug prevention. Di Mare said the University will meet with the superintendents of the local school districts to discuss the curriculum later this month.

"This is just one example of interest from the local community and beyond regarding research and education projects from our Institute of Cannabis Research (ICR)," Di Mare said. "We look forward to partnering with organizations such as MEI who aspire to support the communities in which we live."

Lotz said CSU-Pueblo is the first higher education institution that is supporting and implementing their program on a comprehensive level both in the university and in the community. She said the MEI takes no political or ethical stance on the legalization of marijuana but rather is committed to challenging youths' misperceptions to promote a healthy and accurate understanding of the impacts of marijuana use on the developing body and brain. A partnership with CSU-Pueblo could help bolster MEI's commitment to providing real-time marijuana trend data that can support community prevention efforts.

"Marijuana laws and views are changing across the country, and MEI is committed to providing youth with progressive education to accompany this change," Lotz said.

In early spring 2015, Lotz and her team created MEI out of a passion for providing unbiased information to youth who want to know and understand the effects marijuana has on their lives. During her seven-year tenure as the counselor at Yampa Valley High School, a small alternative school in Steamboat Springs, her students began asking for support in their attempts to become less dependent on marijuana. Putting her education and social work background to work, she decided to create a curriculum that could help the youth in states with legalized marijuana do just that.

Her partner Sarah Grippa brings the legal perspective to MEI. After working as a criminal and family law paralegal for many years, Grippa went back to school to follow her passion into education and has worked with special education students in middle school and high school, and for the past four and a half years has been a health educator at Yampa Valley, where she created and implements yearly health, wellness, and sexual education courses. Sarah contributes her skills and experience to create unbiased, reality-based marijuana Prevention and Intervention curricula.

CSU-Pueblo has signed research agreements with county and state entities which brought resources to help establish the ICR, the nation's first cannabis research center at a regional, comprehensive institution. The University will host the first academically-based conference and research journal on cannabis in 2017. Potential research topics range from the effects of cannabis on female reproductive function to an expansion of current neuroscience research to include cannabinoid receptors. The County requested impact studies on power and water usage, buffer zones, as well as the social and economic impacts on the community.

Di Mare said the primary function of the ICR will be the generation of knowledge in science, medicine, and society through investigation of the benefits and risks associated with the use of cannabis. Research findings will be used to translate discoveries into innovative applications that improve lives with the new curriculum being but one resource that CSU-Pueblo could provide.

"I want CSU-Pueblo to be part of the solution as an institution that provides data, guidance, and resources, particularly for states that are considering or have passed legalization," Di Mare said. "Too much reliance has been placed on anecdotal information, and we hope to give back to our region and the nation with well-founded research and resources."

Colorado State University - Pueblo is a regional, comprehensive university emphasizing professional, career-oriented, and applied programs. Displaying excellence in teaching, celebrating diversity, and engaging in service and outreach, CSU-Pueblo is distinguished by access, opportunity, and the overall quality of services provided to its students.

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