Researcher Named to National Academies Committee on Marijuana Use

Published July 22, 2016

A University at Buffalo psychologist who studies substance abuse issues has been appointed to a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s ad hoc committee that will review the health effects of marijuana use.

Dr. R. Lorraine Collins, a professor of community health and health behavior in UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions (SPHHP), was named to the Academies’ Committee on the Health Effects of Marijuana: An Evidence Review and Research Agenda.

Formed in June, the committee will develop a consensus report comprising two sections: one summarizing the adverse health effects of marijuana use, and another that will summarize the drug’s potential therapeutic uses.

In addition, the report will outline and make recommendations regarding a research agenda identifying the most critical research questions regarding the association of marijuana use with health outcomes — both risks and therapeutic — that can be answered within a three-year time frame. It also will address steps that should be taken in the short-term to ensure that sufficient data are being gathered to answer long-term questions.

The 16-member committee, chaired by Dr. Marie McCormick of the Harvard School of Public Health, includes researchers from Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University and Duke University Medical Center, among other institutions.

In addition to her faculty role, Collins serves as SPHHP’s associate dean for research. Her decades of ongoing research has focused on young adults’ use of marijuana and other substances, and has been funded mostly by the National Institutes of Health, particularly the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Collins most recent research focused on the development and testing of a smartphone app as part of an intervention to help young adults reduce their marijuana use.