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School and Program Updates

School and Program Updates

UMass Amherst Celebrates National Public Health Week

The University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS) will host several events in honor of the 2018 National Public Health Week. The events highlight the School’s mission to optimize the public’s health and quality of life through innovative education, research, outreach, and practice using approaches that integrate the core areas of public health and health sciences.

On Monday, April 2nd, the SPHHS held the next event in the Dean’s Symposia Series, “Marijuana Legalized: Research, Practice, and Policy Considerations.” The symposium examined the potential public health impacts of marijuana legalization in Massachusetts.

The SPHHS welcomes Dr. Darrin Grondel, director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, to deliver the symposium’s keynote address. Having served in both the Washington State Patrol and now with the traffic safety commission, Director Grondel has over 25 years of experience in law enforcement and traffic safety. In 2012, Washington State became one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana. Since legalization, Director Grondel has become a featured speaker around the globe discussing the issues and impacts of impaired driving as a result legalization, considerations for states addressing marijuana legalization, and the impacts of drugged driving.

Also during the symposium, faculty in the department of health promotion and policy will outline a one-year baseline study on pre-legalization rates of marijuana use that they are conducting in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Information will be collected on several important aspects of legalized marijuana including potential impacts of impaired driving, emergency room visits and calls to poison control.

A panel discussion and presentations by SPHHS faculty members Drs. Jennifer Whitehill and Elizabeth Evans on marijuana use and driving, and gender differences among cannabis use disorders, respectively, and by Ms. Cheryl Sbarra of the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards on the critical issues facing our cities and towns, will provide additional insights into the many issues confronting our local communities.

The School will also hold its 21st Annual Research Day on Tuesday, April 3. The School holds this event, celebrated annually during National Public Health Week, as an opportunity for the university and surrounding communities to learn more about the research, instruction and outreach conducted by its students. Students from all departments in the SPHHS will present posters of their work which will be judged based on content and presentation. Awards are made in research and practice categories. Additional awards will be presented by the Delta Omega Honor Society’s Rho Chapter, which will submit winning abstracts as part of its submission to the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.

For more information on any of these events, contact Mr. Patrick Freeman by email at: pfreeman@schoolph.umass.edu.