Epidemiological Model for Examining Marijuana Use Over the Life Course

Published in: Epidemiology Research International, v. 2012, Article ID 520894, July 2012, p. 1-12

by Susan M. Paddock, Beau Kilmer, Jonathan P. Caulkins, Marika Booth, Rosalie Liccardo Pacula

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Trajectories of drug use are usually studied empirically by following over time persons sampled from either the general population (most often youth and young adults) or from heavy or problematic users (e.g., arrestees or those in treatment). The former, population-based samples, describe early career development, but miss the years of use that generate the greatest social costs. The latter, selected populations, help to summarize the most problematic use, but cannot easily explain how people become problem users nor are they representative of the population as a whole. This paper shows how microsimulation can synthesize both sorts of data within a single analytical framework, while retaining heterogeneous influences that can impact drug use decisions over the life course. The RAND Marijuana Microsimulation Model is constructed for marijuana use, validated, and then used to demonstrate how such models can be used to evaluate alternative policy options aimed at reducing use over the life course.

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