The emerging marijuana retail environment: Key lessons learned from tobacco and alcohol retail research

Carla J. Berg, Lisa Henriksen, Patricia A. Cavazos-Rehg, Regine Haardoerfer, Bridget Freisthler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The emerging retail market for recreational marijuana use warrants research and surveillance as such markets are established in more US states. This research can be informed by the existing literature regarding tobacco and alcohol, which highlights the impact of spatial access to tobacco and alcohol retailers and exposure to tobacco and alcohol marketing on smoking and drinking among youth and young adults. Prior research indicates that tobacco and alcohol retailers, as well as medical marijuana dispensaries, are disproportionately located in neighborhoods characterized by socioeconomic disadvantage and by higher proportions of racial/ethnic minorities and young adults. Moreover, retail marketing or point-of-sale practices may differentially target subpopulations and differ by neighborhood demography and local policy. This literature and the methods employed for studying the tobacco and alcohol market could inform research on the retail environment for marijuana, as current gaps exist. In particular, much of the existing literature involves cross-sectional research designs; longitudinal studies are needed. Moreover, standardized measures are needed for systematic monitoring of industry marketing practices and to conduct research examining neighborhood differences in exposure to retail marketing for marijuana and its contribution to use modality and frequency, alone and in combination with nicotine and alcohol. The use of standardized measures for tobacco and alcohol marketing have been critical to develop an evidence base from cross-sectional and longitudinal studies that document the impact of retail marketing on substance use by adolescents and adults. Similar research is needed to establish an evidence base to inform federal, state, and local regulations of marijuana.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-31
Number of pages6
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • Alcohol retail
  • Marijuana retail
  • Marijuana use
  • Substance use
  • Tobacco retail


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