Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Michael Schwab


Community coalitions have had successful reductions in adolescent substance abuse, and the legalization of marijuana presents an opportunity for these coalitions to re-evaluate their current methods and messages for preventing adolescent marijuana usage. Using the theory of planned behavior, the purpose of this qualitative study was to determine how legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes affects the methods and messages of coalitions and how the coalition members perceive their efforts to reduce adolescent marijuana usage post-legalization in Colorado. Participants were obtained by recommendations from the executive director in each of four coalitions. A purposive sample of 12 coalition members was interviewed via telephone and recorded. Data from the transcripts were analyzed, coded, and repeated as necessary until themes arose. The major themes suggested that programs alone were inadequate to change adolescents' perception of marijuana, despite the current success of the methods and messages expressed by coalition members. Recommendations included continuing current programs despite legalization, partnering with marijuana retail shops, engaging youth through multiple tactics, developing relationships with youth, and improving parent education to help prevent adolescent marijuana usage. These themes could shape the development of programs that guide adolescents into making better choices, which could ultimately lead to positive social change.