Table of Contents
Epidemiology Research International
Volume 2012, Article ID 520894, 12 pages
Research Article

An Epidemiological Model for Examining Marijuana Use over the Life Course

1RAND Drug Policy Research Center, RAND Corporation, 1776 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA, 90401, USA
2Carnegie Mellon University, Heinz School, 1652 King James Dr., Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890, USA

Received 29 February 2012; Accepted 13 May 2012

Academic Editor: Jacek A. Kopec

Copyright © 2012 Susan M. Paddock et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Trajectories of drug use are usually studied empirically by following over time persons sampled from either the general population (most often youth and young adults) or from heavy or problematic users (e.g., arrestees or those in treatment). The former, population-based samples, describe early career development, but miss the years of use that generate the greatest social costs. The latter, selected populations, help to summarize the most problematic use, but cannot easily explain how people become problem users nor are they representative of the population as a whole. This paper shows how microsimulation can synthesize both sorts of data within a single analytical framework, while retaining heterogeneous influences that can impact drug use decisions over the life course. The RAND Marijuana Microsimulation Model is constructed for marijuana use, validated, and then used to demonstrate how such models can be used to evaluate alternative policy options aimed at reducing use over the life course.