"Does marijuana use cause anxiety, or will it help calm me down?"
"Which is safer: smoking plant marijuana or vaping a concentrate?"
"What if I want to cut down on my pot use, but I don't want to quit?"
Staff and volunteers of the Washington Recovery Help Line have a new science-based training to help them answer questions from callers about marijuana use and its consequences. "Marijuana Training for Help Line Staff: Science-based Answers to Frequently Asked Questions” is an online, interactive training developed by Dr. Bia Carlini and colleagues at the UW Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute in consultation with Help Line staff.
The goal of the training is to increase knowledge about marijuana and Washington's marijuana laws, and to suggest resources that helpline staff may not yet have in their toolbox. Most of the resources described in the training can be found on ADAI’s Learn About Marijuana WA website.
The 1.5 hour training covers five modules:
- Marijuana & the Body: the endocannabinoid system, internal and external cannabinoids (including synthetic cannabinoids like Spice/K2), and THC and CBD’s effects;
- Products & Devices: the difference between concentrates, edibles, and the whole plant and how these products are typically used;
- State Law: the basics of the laws regulating both medical and non-medical use of marijuana in Washington;
- Treatment & Support Options: education about Cannabis Use Disorder, talking points/resources for callers who want to quit or just cut down, parents calling about their teens, and friends/family concerned about another adult;
- Other Questions: does marijuana cause anxiety, is it a gateway drug, does it help with or trigger nausea, can it be used as a harm reduction drug?
In July 2017, the team of Meg Brunner, MLIS, Bia Carlini, PhD, MPH, and Sharon Garrett, MPH, met with Helpline director Robyn Smith, MSW (second from right), her staff and volunteers, to introduce the training. Staff were excited to learn the training had been created to address their own questions and those of Help Line callers!
Although the training was developed for the Washington Recovery Help Line and some information is specific to them, it may be of interest to others who routinely answer questions about marijuana use, including health care providers, educators, and professionals in substance use treatment or prevention.
Development of the training was funded by the Washington State Dedicated Marijuana Fund for research at the University of Washington.
Related: Carlini BH, Garrett SB. Drug helplines and adult marijuana users: an assessment in Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska. Substance Abuse 2017 (in press). This study helped the developers to understand the concerns and knowledge gaps among helpline workers that are addressed in the training.
LearnAboutMarijuanaWA.org website developed by ADAI to provide science-based information about marijuana to the public.