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Tarang Parekh, PhD candidate in health services research in the Department of Health Administration and Policy (HAP), received a 2021 American Public Health Association (APHA) Career Enhancement Student Scholarship Award for his outstanding peer-reviewed abstract submission, which was selected for an oral presentation by the Disability Section abstract review committee. The virtual oral presentation occurred on Sunday, October 24, 2021.
The title of Parekh’s abstract is “Medical and Recreational Marijuana Use Among Adults with Disabilities in 2019.” Parekh collaborated on this research study with Gilbert Gimm, associate professor in HAP. Using a national sample of 79,000 adult participants from 2019 Behavioral Risk Factor and Surveillance System (BRFSS) data, Parekh found that adults with disabilities had a much higher prevalence (22.4% vs. 13.0%) of marijuana use compared to non-disabled adults. He also found that the likelihood of marijuana use was more than twice as high for adults with cognitive limitations compared to non-disabled adults.
“Tarang’s finding of cognitive disability as an important predictor of marijuana use is consistent with an earlier study publication in which we found that e-cigarette use was also more prevalent among adults with cognitive disabilities,” said Gimm. “This suggests more research is needed to focus on this important sub-population”.
Parekh also found that expanded recreational marijuana use policies in California were associated with increased marijuana use among adults with disabilities compared to states that only had medical marijuana legalization. “Given Virginia’s legalization of marijuana for recreational use in 2021, it will be important to examine future marijuana use in Virginia and track health outcomes for adults with disabilities,” said Parekh.