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Brookline Public Health Releases 2023 Marijuana Landscape Assessment


Town Administrator Chas Carey and Director of Public Health & Human Services Sigalle Reiss announce the release of Brookline’s 2023 Marijuana Landscape Assessment, developed to help residents, business owners and government officials better understand the landscape and impact of marijuana in the Town of Brookline.

In November 2021, petitioners put forth Warrant Article 9 to the Brookline Town Meeting to establish a study committee to look at a variety of topics pertaining to marijuana and its impact on the town. Town Meeting opted not to pass the Article, but instead referred the issue to the Advisory Council on Public Health (ACPH), in collaboration with the Brookline Department of Public Health and Human Services (BDPHHS), to conduct a community-based study on public health impacts of marijuana. In 2022, the BDPHHS partnered with Health Resources in Action (HRiA), a non-profit public health organization, to conduct this assessment. HRiA gathered and synthesized quantitative and qualitative data to understand the influence and impacts of marijuana, with a focus on youth, and identify priority areas, address health disparities, and establish intervention strategies as it relates to marijuana and other substance use.

Town leaders will use the findings from this report to prioritize and plan public health activities to prevent youth marijuana use and support intervention and treatment for those in need. The report outlines recommendations considering the Social Drivers of Health (SDoH) as they relate to substance use, as well as the levels of prevention and intervention possible using a public health approach.

Examples of the 73-page report’s recommendations include:

  • Develop messaging for youth about how many of their peers are not using marijuana and other drugs. Address misperceptions that most Brookline youth are using marijuana, to encourage confidence in rejecting the social pressure to use marijuana.
  • Continue to provide safe spaces for youth to talk about mental health challenges and problematic substance use, where they can find support, rather than fear punishment or repercussions.
  • Provide parents / guardians with education and resources to talk with their children about the harms of marijuana and other substance use.

The full report and recommendations can be found here.

“The Department of Public Health and Human Services will use this data to inform and design prevention strategies to reduce substance us in Brookline,” Director Reiss said. “Having a data informed approach will allow the department to focus on effective strategies that increase protective factors and support Brookline youth to continue to make healthy choices and reduce substance use”

The Department of Public Health & Human Services contracted an external agency, Health Resources in Action, Inc. (HRiA), to conduct the assessment. HRiA is a Boston-based non-profit public health organization that provides research, evaluation, strategic planning and program support services around the country.