The Cannabis/Marijuana Awareness & Prevention Toolkit

Using the Cannabis/Marijuana Awareness & Prevention Toolkit

The Cannabis Awareness & Prevention Toolkit is an educational resource that can be adapted to fit the individual needs of educators and students in all types of settings, including elementary, middle and high schools; community-based organizations; and health-related agencies.

Educators are encouraged to pick and choose which lessons will be most useful for their students and adapt activities to suit their needs. You will find that the PowerPoints, worksheets, and activities can all be altered as desired. Please also review the Crash Courses included in certain modules for more information for educators and parents, and please see the Resources section that provides additional information and websites that are relevant to educators, parents, youth, and others who are interested.

Goals of the Cannabis/Marijuana Awareness & Prevention Toolkit

1. learn basic information about all cannabis/marijuana products;

2. understand how their brain develops, and how cannabis/marijuana influences this development;

3. identify ways of how using cannabis/marijuana can interfere with the development of life skills all adolescents need to be learning now;

4. process how using cannabis/marijuana can get in the way of finding out what can bring them pleasure;

5. explore who they are and what they like, as alternatives to cannabis/marijuana use;

6. learn why and how some people (1 in 6 youth) can become addicted to cannabis/marijuana;

7. continue not to use cannabis for those who currently do not use cannabis/marijuana;

8. consider decreasing, delaying, or stopping the use of cannabis/marijuana for those who are current cannabis/marijuana users;

9. gain refusal skills to address peer pressure of experimentation and use of cannabis/marijuana.


Cannabis Awareness & Prevention Toolkit Content Overview

About the Cannabis/Marijuana Awareness & Prevention Toolkit

A Cannabis Prevention Toolkit.  That should be easy, right?  After all, cannabis is reefer madness, or spiritual enlightenment.

And therein lies the dilemma that was faced by our team in developing this Cannabis Awareness and Prevention Toolkit.  It is not a black and white story, but one of many grays. Cannabis use is very nuanced.

The overwhelming global success of our Tobacco Prevention Toolkit  was immediately, as in within minutes, followed by, “But we also desperately need a marijuana prevention toolkit.”

The Cannabis Awareness & Prevention Toolkit (CAPT) is a theory-based and evidence-informed educational resource created by educators and researchers aimed at preventing and delaying middle and high school students’ use of cannabis for those who do not use (80% of youth across the US), and to encourage those who are using (about 20%) to cut back and/or quit. 

As we began the task of building the CAPT we realized there were some really terrific materials, resources, websites, videos, and information sources already created by local public health departments and non-profit organizations.  But we also recognized that more was needed.

We began with some basic principles for the CAPT:

·  Address both the bad and the good of cannabis use

·  Take no stand on adult use or legalization

·  Scare tactics are ineffective

·  Youth learn best from honest, interactive activities

·  Information is power

·  Use of cannabis by youth during brain development can be harmful

Developing the CAPT was accomplished by partnering with key stakeholders in health education as well as psychologists, physicians, and scientists. We also conducted formative research to inform our curriculum and materials, including holding a series of focus groups with health educators, youth, and scientists to identify the most important content areas that need to be included, and to obtain the latest evidence to ensure that the information presented in our curriculum is accurate.

We also relied on our 10 years of experience in developing the Tobacco Prevention Toolkit, an online free educational resource aimed at preventing middle and high school students’ use of all tobacco products. That website went live in September 2016 and has been used by hundreds of educators throughout the US and globally and has reached over 300,000 youth so far.

We again sought to create a website that not only offered PowerPoints on as many cannabis-related topics as possible with great teaching notes, but also wanted to have many interactive activities to use for and with youth. We also collected many great websites, videos, and resources.  Youth need to not only be informed but involved in a fun and creative way to learn about cannabis so that they can make the best decisions.

We also took into consideration the explosion of states where legalized cannabis for recreational use is allowed for people 21 and over, and the energy going into the commerce around cannabis. Most young people will also know some successful adults in their lives who use cannabis and seem to have zero negative effect from using cannabis.  All this adds up to a very confusing and complicated time for youth. While we need more research on the short- and long-term physical and social harms associated with cannabis, we clearly have enough research to discuss and use in educational efforts.

As such, in this Cannabis Awareness & Prevention Toolkit we do not preach. We are as non-judgmental as possible, but we have judgements. We want youth to protect their brains at this critical time of brain development, and this includes not using cannabis.

Our goal is to focus on empowering adults who will be carrying on the education, conversations, and activities to teach about cannabis with youth. This conversation is difficult, as youth believe “everyone is using cannabis,” although only about 20% of their peers are actually using.  Not an easy task, but we hope to continue to work on ways to accomplish this task at hand.

We also seek your feedback.  Our Tobacco Prevention Toolkit became stronger and more successful as a direct result of feedback from people in the field using it.  Let us know your thoughts, feelings, and suggestions.


Pathway Foundation 

Pathway Society, Inc. exists to provide services that promote the development of individual, family and community wellness. This mission is accomplished through programs designed to provide a continuum of substance abuse and behavioral health services. The goal of these programs is to foster and promote healthy lifestyles.

CASA - Los Gatos 

CASA today is an alliance of parents of children from grades K-12, community organizations, schools, and local government leaders whose mission is “fostering healthy lifestyle choices that help young people resist alcohol and drugs.”

The Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute

The Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute is dedicated to understanding how the brain gives rise to mental life and behavior, both in health and in disease. Their research community draws from and informs multiple disciplines, including neuroscience, medicine, engineering, psychology, education and law.