The Reality of Legal Marijuana and Hispanic Latino Youth. Myths, Truths, Consequences

Image of marijuana and THC oil

The advent of the medical marijuana movement has given way to an avalanche of business opportunities that many states have adopted as a means of increasing tax revenues. Ten states have fully adopted the legalization of marijuana for both medical and recreational use (Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington). Nineteen other states, and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have legalized medical marijuana. These developments present many challenges for those who educate youth and parents on prevention approaches to drug use. This virtual learning community session will highlight one of the states that has vigorously developed policy and public education efforts that address the need to educate youth and the broader community about the dangers of marijuana use by children and youth: Colorado. It will also present the latest research and epidemiological data that has a bearing on issues faced by Hispanic/Latino communities. The session also includes examples of public health education efforts targeting Hispanic/Latino youth and parents and will delineate successful evidence-based prevention approaches. 


Ivette A. Torres, MEd., M.S.

Former Associate Director for Consumer Affairs at the federal Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).


Ruben Baler, Ph.D.

Dr. Ruben Baler received his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Molecular Biology from the University of Miami in 1993. He carried out his postdoctoral training at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development where he specialized in Molecular Chronobiology. He then moved to the National Institute of Mental Health, where he conducted basic research on the molecular basis of circadian gene expression in vertebrates. In October 2004 he joined the Science Policy Branch in the Office of Science Policy and Communications at the National Institute on Drug Abuse as a Health Scientist. His early publications have focused on the temporal regulation of gene expression in the brain’s clock. Since joining NIDA, he has written and lectured about the Neurobiology of Drug Abuse and Addiction. Dr. Baler has gathered critical insight from diverse disciplines, which he combines to advance NIDA’s scientific mission. These include cellular and molecular biology, genetics, immunology, bioinformatics.

Henny Lasley, B.B.A.

Henny Lasley, is one of the co-founders of Smart Colorado. Founded in 2013, Smart Colorado is the only citizen led non-profit, non-partisan organization focused solely on protecting the public health and safety of Colorado youth as marijuana is commercialized and increasingly available. Smart Colorado provides information to policy makers, parents and adults, educators, youth-serving organizations and the media about the impacts of commercialized marijuana. Henny was appointed to the role of Executive Director in 2016. She has been appointed by the State Marijuana Enforcement Division to serve on the stakeholder group focused on rulemaking for labeling and warning statements of marijuana products. Additionally, Henny serves on the State Health Department’s Advisory Committee for the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey and is an active member of the Denver Partnership for Youth Success coalition.

Ray Lozano, PC, CADC

Ray Lozano’s varied experience professionally has equipped him to become the unique speaker that he is today. His career started out in the Teen Challenge Ministry Institute, where he saw firsthand the ravages of drug use in young adults. Having not used drugs or alcohol, this was an eye-opening experience to see firsthand the deleterious effects that drugs have on a young person. He saw how drugs stripped away a person’s chance for an extraordinary life. From working with people fighting their way back from addiction, he realized he wanted to work with kids before they got involved in drugs and alcohol, which led him to his work in prevention. As a Vice Principal for a private elementary school, he launched an after-school program with an emphasis on promoting a family-oriented, drug-free philosophy. This gave him an understanding from an educator’s perspective that schools are looking for the best for their students. Ray was the Program Specialist for a very successful youth prevent

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