Regional Learning Collaboratives

Regional Learning Collaboratives

Ohio’s Regional Learning Collaboratives are designed to engage Ohio’s prevention professionals located within rural and Appalachian communities to offer guidance and support as they seek and obtain their Ohio Certified Prevention Specialist (OCPS) credentials. As a link within OCAM, coaches will assist with eliminating barriers, provide technical assistance and equip area professionals and community members with the necessary skills and knowledge to implement evidence-based prevention.

  • Assistance reaching your credentialing goals
  • Networking with other prevention professionals
  • Mobilizing community partnerships
  • Continuing education opportunities

Upcoming dates and locations:

September 18, 2017 10:00 am-2:30 pm
Ohio University Eastern Campus
45425 National Road, St. Clairsville, OH 43950

September 19, 2017 10:00 am-2:30 pm
Wood County Education Service Center
1867 Research Drive, Bowling Green, OH 43402

September 26, 2017 10:00 am-2:30 pm

Meridian Healthcare
527 North Meridian Road , Youngstown, OH 44509

To register any of these events go to: 

We will be having a working lunch.Lunch will be on your own. Laptops may be useful, but not required. CEUs pending.

For questions or more information contact Jennifer Benson at

OCAM was created to support the Ohio Strategic Prevention Framework Partnerships for Success State and Tribal Initiative (SPF-PFS) in the state of Ohio. Funding for the SPF-PFS is provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) and administered by OhioMHAS.

AP18 Registration Now Open

AP18 Registration Now OPEN!

Join colleagues and professionals from across  the globe at
AP18:  EVIDENCE TO ACTION Building an Evidence-Based Social Movement    

~ April 11-13, 2018 ~

Renaissance Arlington Capital view Hotel
Arlington, Virginia


Of special interest to advocates: The convening of AP18 will include a first-ever ADVOCATE INSTITUTE, a pre-conference session. The institute will run all day Tuesday, April 10th and the morning of Wednesday, April 11th. If you are an advocate working with a nonprofit organization or public health department, please plan to join us!

To register for the Advocate Institute, please CLICK HERE. The Alcohol Policy Conference series convenes researchers, community practitioners, public officials, faith partners and other concerned citizens primarily from North America. Building on the foundation of the first conference in 1981, this event will continue to emphasize the importance of moving from evidence to action in alcohol policy research, development, implementation, enforcement and evaluation.

The Showdown: Public Health vs. Vaping and Tobacco

This week in the Ohio Senate, the Senate Finance Committee heard testimony from the American Lung Association and American Heart Association and the vaping/tobacco lobbies on the cigarette/vaping tax that is being debated in the Finance Committee.  The lobbies do not like the cigarette/vaping tax as it will cost their consumers more money while the public health groups on this issue are presenting that an increased tax will mean less smokers and help replenish the nearly depleted tobacco cessation fund.

 The tobacco/vaping lobby argued that there has been no scientific evidence that vaping produces any negative health impacts and even argued that vaping will keep consumers away from the more dangerous cigarettes.  This was a big change – these lobbies taking it from a public health stance.  The American Lung Association and American Heart Association both stated that the FDA considered vaping products as tobacco products and should be considered as such.

The one piece that was striking, however, was that there was question from a Senator on the committee, asking if there was any science supporting that vapor products are as dangerous as tobacco.  I found this striking because there is very little research on either side.  The little research that there is seems to point to potential health dangers.  Why was the question not asked of the tobacco industry, “What research has there been to show that these products are not dangerous?”  It’s very interesting that public health is doubted, but a lobby that has lied to the public for a century is given a pass.

We can tie this to marijuana, as well, in the fact that legalization has happened in some states, yet the science of showing the health impacts is still in early stages.  The early science we have does not look good in regards to community harms and mental health and physical health impacts, but we have to prove it.  Perhaps we can be better as a society if we wait for these studies to be done before legalizing anything.

In our roles, we seem to be playing catch-up, being asked to answer the questions of health impacts while lobbies that prey upon the young, those communities with lower incomes and those susceptible to substance use disorders are not asked those same questions.

Perhaps one of our biggest opportunities would be to turn the question of health and safety to our legislators and ask what research they have to protect the health and safety of communities.  It should be asked to change the narrative of this conversation.

If you wondered, the budget was not passed and there is no sign of whether the tax will stay in or be taken out.  Those are decisions that have yet to be made by our Senate leaders.

Tony Coder
Drug Free Action Alliance

Slew of New Research Mounts on Failures of Marijuana Legalization: Pot Shops Linked to More Youth Use, More Crime, No Reductions in Drinking

Over the past several years, states that have legalized marijuana have suffered from a wide array of unintended consequences. States with legal marijuana continue to see a thriving black market, increases in youth drug use, a rise in fatal drugged driving crashes, and more.

As special interest groups march forward in their push to put profits ahead of health, the evidence regarding the harm caused by legalization continues to mount. Just this week, three new key pieces of information have emerged that should give politicians and regulators pause as they consider how to move forward. 

First, a key study published in the Journal of Primary Prevention examined the association between medical marijuana patients and licensed growers in Oregon.  According to the study, increases in youth marijuana use are associated with the proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries in the state:

“Results of multi-level analyses indicated significant positive associations between rates of marijuana patients and growers per 1000 population and the prevalence of past 30-day marijuana use, controlling for youth demographic characteristics. The marijuana patient and grower rates were also inversely associated with parental disapproval of marijuana use, which decreased from 2006 to 2015 and acted as a mediator. These findings suggest that a greater number of registered marijuana patients and growers per 1000 population in Oregon counties was associated with a higher prevalence of marijuana use among youth from 2006 to 2015, and that this relationship was partially attributable to perceived norms favorable towards marijuana use.”

Second, in a sign that does not bode well for the marijuana industry, an NIH-funded study out of Denver found that legal pot shops are linked to higher rates of property crime in surrounding areas. The study found that the density of marijuana businesses was positively related to property crime in nearby areas, as well as marijuana-specific crime. According to the lead author of the study Bridget Freisthler:

“Over time, as marijuana grows in popularity, densities of marijuana outlets may increase, resulting in higher crime…There are definitely negative public health consequences [of legalization], including increased crime.”

Third, a new analysis out of Canada notes that marijuana legalization will have a negligible effect – if any – on alcohol consumption, despite promises made by advocates of marijuana legalization that users will switch.  According to the Globe and Mail, analysts project a less than 1 percent change in alcohol sales.  As we’ve warned for years, the story includes an admission by an industry analyst that the profitability of this addictive industry relies on hooking users early:

“Analyst Vivien Azer of U.S.-based research firm Cowen and Company is anticipating the alcohol industry could be under substantial pressure over the next decade if young people continue to take a pass on drinking.

In a report released last month, Azer said just under 82 per cent of 18- to 29-year-olds in Ontario consumed alcohol in 2015, down 5.5 percentage points since 2008, while marijuana use has been steady at around 34 to 36 per cent.

‘Our focus on these younger consumers reflects our belief that the experimenter of today is the leading consumer of tomorrow,’ said the report by Azer who also covers Canopy Growth.”

Every week, more evidence comes out pointing to the serious health and safety harms that come with legalizing marijuana. Local pot shops are spurring more crime, marijuana industry special interests are openly targeting adolescents, and youth marijuana use is rising in areas with medical marijuana businesses as more kids perceive pot as safe. It’s time for our elected officials to stop and ask if we’re moving in the right direction on marijuana. We can be ‘smart on crime’ by reforming our nation’s criminal justice system without commercializing a drug we know to be harmful.

  For more information, please visit

Alcohol Awareness Month: Be aware – Mary Haag, PreventionFIRST!

Dear Friends,
I have been surprised of late, by news of a couple of extended family members who needed liver transplants. Both are baby boomers, one has died.
I remember overhearing in the gym locker room, an older man describing his shock when his wife was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, the prognosis fatal. “She would only have one drink every evening.”
Lately, we continue to hear of young adults who “binge drink” and bear the immediate consequences of alcohol intoxication – death, or causing harm to others. In March, I was disappointed to see the media reporting on “Green Beer Day” daily leading up to St. Patrick’s Day.
In all cases, it is likely that none were “alcoholics”. But all were examples of over consumption. Our society fails to recognize the fact that alcohol is a toxin. It doesn’t matter what type of alcohol one consumes. What matters is exposure to the toxin.
During Alcohol Awareness month, let us all take a step back and remember the short term and long term consequences that come from the misuse of alcohol products. Make an effort this month to assess your own level of use, talk with your kids about the harms of underage alcohol use, and understand why we have the age-limit laws we do and the low risking drinking guidelines designed to keep us more safe & more healthy.

Mary F. Haag

President/CEO PreventionFIRST!

Ohio’s Tony Coder Joins SAM

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) today announced the addition of Tony Coder (Director of State and Local Affairs).

image-3-1-17-at-9-06-amState/Local Affairs Director

“I’m thrilled to gain new team members that bring the passion and expertise necessary to make inroads against the next profit-hungry, addictive industry – Big Marijuana – in 2017 and the years to come.” said SAM President and CEO Kevin A. Sabet.

Director of State and Local Affairs Tony Coder comes to SAM from the Drug Free Action Alliance where he was the policy director for behavioral health issues for the agency. He was appointed to the Ohio Medical Marijuana Committee in 2016 by Governor John Kasich. In 2015, Coder led the grassroots organizational efforts against the marijuana legalization initiative in Ohio, which was soundly defeated by a 64-36 margin. Previously, he worked as the Project Director for Ohio’s First Lady Hope Taft on drug prevention issues and also served as the Legislative Director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services where he was the chief lobbyist for the agency under Governor Ted Strickland. Coder will be the main liaison to SAM’s more than three-dozen affiliates and the central contact for all state and local campaigns related to marijuana policy. 

Marijuana – which has skyrocketed in average potency over the past decades – is addictive and harmful to the human brain, especially when used by adolescents. In states that have already legalized the drug, there has been an increase in drugged driving crashes and youth marijuana use. These states have seen a black market that continues to thrive, sustained marijuana arrest rates, and a consistent rise in alcohol sales. 

SAM is always recruiting new talent – for more details or to submit your resume, please email To support SAM’s efforts and help us grow in the coming years, click here . 


Call for Workshop Proposals: 2017 Annual OPEC Conference – June 26-28

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) Office of Prevention and Wellness is now accepting proposals to present at the 2017 Ohio Promoting Wellness and Recovery (OPEC) conference.

This year’s conference will be held June 26-28 at Miami University in Oxford and feature six subject matter tracks: Early Childhood Mental Health; adolescent/transition age youth treatment & recovery supports; prevention; collective impact; youth empowerment and cultural competency.

Workshop proposals must be submitted online by Feb. 24. Visit for more information.

Are you educating decision makers in Washington, your state capitol, or your hometown?

Download the Marijuana Education Toolkit to inform yourself and others! 

SAM’s Toolkit includes information about the health risks of marijuana, data showing links between marijuana use and other drugs, and a debrief of the latest on federal vs. states’ rights. You can use these educational briefs to inform not just lawmakers, but also community leaders, friends, and anyone else interested in this important subject.

For more information about marijuana use and its effects, visit

New Surgeon General’s Report Highlights Dangers of Marijuana Use

The new data confirms mounting body of scientific evidence highlighting problems with rising marijuana use; SAM Honorary Advisor Patrick Kennedy to speak as part of report’s official release

new report, released today by the office of the U.S. Surgeon General, adds to the mounting body of scientific evidence highlighting the dangers of marijuana use and emphasizing prevention as essential for protecting youth. It also stands as a further warning of the large impending public health costs of marijuana legalization policies, which permit the marijuana industry to profit from the patterns of heavy marijuana use that pose the greatest threat to public health and safety.

Among the report’s findings:

  • Long-term health consequences of marijuana use:  mental health problems, chronic cough, frequent respiratory infections, increased risk for cancer, and suppression of the immune system.
  • Other serious health-related issues stemming from marijuana use: breathing problems; increased risk of cancer of the head, neck, lungs, and respiratory tract; possible loss of IQ points when repeated use begins in adolescence; babies born with problems with attention, memory, and problem solving (when used by the mother during pregnancy).
  • Increased risk for traffic accidents:  Marijuana use “is linked to a roughly two-fold increase in accident risk.”
  • Increased risk of schizophrenia:  “[T]he use of marijuana, particularly marijuana with a high THC content, might contribute to schizophrenia in those who have specific genetic vulnerabilities.
  • Increased risk of addiction from high-potency marijuana available in legalized states:  “[C]oncern is growing that increasing use of marijuana extracts with extremely high amounts of THC could lead to higher rates of addiction among marijuana users.”
  • Permanent Loss of IQ:  “One study followed people from age 13 to 38 and found that those who began marijuana use in their teens and developed a persistent cannabis use disorder had up to an eight point drop in IQ, even if they stopped using in adulthood.” 

“Once again, the scientific community has spoken loud and clear on the numerous, and serious health risks of marijuana,” said Kevin Sabet, President of SAM. “The more we know about marijuana, the worse it appears for public health and safety. Policymakers, especially those in the incoming Presidential administration and Congress, should read this report closely and heed the advice of the scientific community.”

“In particular, the Surgeon General’s report underscores the serious problems with patterns of heavy marijuana use — the same patterns that furnish the pot industry with the vast majority of its revenues,” commented Jeffrey Zinsmeister, SAM’s Executive Vice President. “As we seek to avoid the mistakes we made with Big Tobacco, we should be aware that the pot industry profits off of the very types of marijuana use that most harm public health and safety.”

Alcohol Ads Do Not Belong In National Parks

65 organizations, including the ATOD Prevention Group, have united to inform the National Parks Service that national parks are no place for alcohol advertising. Additional efforts are needed to ensure that our message is spread far and wide.

Here are some sample tweets that you can use:

.@NatlParkService: Say ‘NO’ to alcohol commercialism in #nationalparks. #RespectOurParks

 .@NatlParkService: Allowing alcohol logos in parks disregards public health, puts youth at risk #RespectOurParks

 Alcohol ads do not belong in #nationalparks, 66 groups tell @NatlParkService #RespectOurParks

The letter to the National Park Service is available here: alcohol-coalition-letter-to-the-nps-10-26-16.

Please do your part to ensure that alcohol policies are not further eroded by short-sighted efforts.