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Cannabis Public Education Survey Results

Earlier this year, we conducted a survey about access to cannabis public education, focusing on all 297 libraries in New Jersey. The results were elucidating...



In early 2023, Elucidation Strategies launched its Cannabis Community Conversation (CCC) program. Designed to harness a history-based approach to explore the topic of cannabis in an accessible way, CCC events are often hosted by libraries and other community-focused organizations who want to help people learn more about a topic that remains controversial and confusing for many.  


To understand more about the interest and barriers, we surveyed New Jersey libraries, conducting individual outreach to all 297 libraries in the state.  The 5-question survey results, which includes a wide variety of commentary, are elucidating!  ES recently shared its findings with the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission, as the survey results provide data and insight about something many in the cannabis industry already know; there is a crucial need for access to education, particularly historical context and cannabis facts.  


The results of the survey, which were submitted to the State in the form of written comments for the March 27th Social Equity Excise Fund (SEEF) hearing, are below.


Elucidation Strategies - Survey Report and Public Statement - CCC
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Survey Report - Cannabis public education and Cannabis Community Conversation (CCC) program 

Survey Audience:  New Jersey library directors


297 NJ libraries listed on the New Jersey Library Association website

18% return rate, 52 responses


Survey Results

Q1: Does your library host free education events and programs that help patrons explore topics that impact individuals and/or communities?

86% (44) yes

14% (7) no


Conclusion: The majority of NJ libraries host events/programs for patrons.  


Q2:  Do patrons request or take out materials regarding any aspect of cannabis?

58% (30) unsure

23% (12) no

19% (10) yes


Conclusion:  There is some accessing of materials. Similar amounts of libraries were able to answer with certainty, but more than half are uncertain.  


Q3: Generally speaking and assuming funding was not a factor, would your library be interested in hosting a Cannabis Community Conversation program for your patrons?

54% (28) unsure

35% (18) yes

12% (6) no


Conclusion:  There is interest and potential interest in hosting.  Only 12% actively asserted no. Based on comments (see below), it can be concluded that at least some of the no responses were driven by personal feelings regarding cannabis.  Also, uncertainty, based on comments (see below) is likely steeped in uncertainty about administrative/community response.  


Q4: What is the most significant barrier to bringing an educational program like the Cannabis Community Conversation event to your library?

41% (21) - interest

33% (17) - budget

21% (11) - space

21% (11) - other

16% (8) - personnel


Responses

  • Approval by my Board of Trustees

  • We are always looking for new programming and didn't think of cannabis education as a topic

  • None- We have hosted one popular session

  • Resistance from Administration

  • Angry responses from conservative patrons and politicians

  • Library staffing limited and staff member are assuming multiple roles in 2024.

  • If it is in any way encouraging it, I would not be interested

  • TEMPORARILY: facility under renovation/no space

  • See my additional comments (There's a culture war in which libraries and librarians are casualties. We're being accused of indoctrinating children, supporting marxism & communism, and are facing max burnout, bomb threats, we're losing funding and our jobs....and now you want us to be accused of pushing weed to children? Because thats's what will happen in conservative towns, if a library "partners" with you for "cannabais conversations." You want sales. I will not help you, particularly when libraries have everything to lose and nothing whatsover to gain, while you only get to make $$ on our backs.)

  • We have many visitors who are addicts; would not like to encourage further addictions

  • Not sure if members of the public would turn out for this.


Conclusion:  Interest and budget are the top cited barriers.  Based on the comments, interest is a complex factor.  


Q5: If you happen to know, are cannabis licensed operators allowed in your municipality? 

37% (19) unsure

35% (18) yes

28% (14) no


Conclusion: Libraries, anchor community centers, and their staff are often aware of municipality status and happenings, which is somewhat supported here.  


Q6:  Additional comments

  • This library is located in a small conservative town that doesn't take well to change. While I personally feel this would be a great program and event, I'm not sure our patrons would feel the same. I'm genuinely unsure how they but more specifically the Library Board of Trustees would feel about programming educating about Cannabis.

  • Our very small, minimally funded library has been unsuccessful in the past with paid, adult educational programs. We would love to have them, but do not get enough of a turn out to justify the expense.

  • Cannabis licensed operators are allowed in surrounding towns.

  • We have worked with Rise, a cannabis operator to run three different programs about cannabis for your community. The first two programs were well attended. The last program was not.

  • Our neighboring town, Harrison, is getting a cannabis licensed business soon and our community has been largely opposed to it.

  • https://ecode360.com/40157861

  • There's a culture war in which libraries and librarians are casualties. We're being accused of indoctrinating children, supporting marxism & communism, and are facing max burnout, bomb threats, we're losing funding and our jobs....and now you want us to be accused of pushing weed to children? Because thats's what will happen in conservative towns, if a library "partners" with you for "cannabais conversations." You want sales. I will not help you, particularly when libraries have everything to lose and nothing whatsover to gain, while you only get to make $$ on our backs.

  • This was a badly rolled out plan. You can walk down almost any urban street and smell cannabis. Is this good for our communities? For our children?


Conclusion: The comments shared provide insight about concerns, support, and individual perspective. It is interesting to think of the librarians themselves as a focus group of sorts in this instance. When applying demographic data about library personnel, we can apply insights about who is generally represented by these comments.  


Q7:  Contact information 

Answered: 19

Declined: 33


Additional written/verbal comments shared during survey outreach

-"Angela,

I don't have interest in completing the survey. I know of enough people who started with pot and ended up as drug addicts, several of whom OD'd.  And the thought of someone driving while stoned (and with drunk drivers) certainly takes the joy out of driving.  The only education that's relevant is education not to smoke pot."


- "Angela,

I don't know that we want to have that topic here.  We already have enough problem with drugs, we don't need to talk about it, like it's positive.  I get that's my personal opinion, and see that maybe we should cover both sides, but I'm just not sure that's the right thing to do." 


- "Hi Angela,

I'm not interested in doing a cannabis program here.  [Municipality] is a very conservative community and prohibits marjiuana dispensaries within the Township. Most of our patrons are seniors and parents.  I don't think this is the right environment for such a program."


- "Angela,

"That's absolutely not something that we're interested in at all at this time. That's not a fit for us in any way."  


- Note:  During outreach, ES founder Angela Speakman was hung up on twice and was aggressively scolded/questioned three times about her work in the cannabis space. She was also enthusiastically praised four times.  Anecdotally, there were often audible shifts after the topic of cannabis was stated on the phone.  Angela Speakman talked directly with approximately 10% of library staff for an involved amount of time (ranging from 5 minutes to 60 minutes) and reception varied significantly.  


Helpful Context

  • Initial Cannabis Community Conversation program outreach occurred in early 2023

  • CCC events are “public humanities-style” conversations in neutral, safe space that are  representative of community

  • Approximately 2 dozen libraries inquired to learn more in winter 2023, approximately half wanted to move forward, but no funding was available, note: two libraries specifically asked about history program for teens

  • Elucidation Strategies moved forward with booking education events in 2nd half of 2023, including CCC events at libraries

  • Participation and engagement in CCC events was elucidating, led to survey to glean data and additional insight

  • Individual survey outreach to all libraries conducted between 1/12/24 and 2/12/24

  • Survey was a 5-question anonymous-option tool, initially delivered via email, then followed-up with an immediate phone call

  • Note: the survey was designed with brevity in mind, as the shorter/easier the survey, the higher likelihood that it will be completed


About the Elucidation Strategies Cannabis Community Conversation program 



Often hosted in libraries and other community centers, CCCs are 90-minute interactive, history-focused discussions that explore different aspects of the topic of cannabis. The CCC format and the approach is designed by Angela Speakman, a public education facilitator and professor at Stockton University for the cannabis studies program.  A few noteworthy items about these public conversations:

  • The discussion topics are determined in real-time, by the CCC participants. 

  • The history-based approach allows for wide, fact-based exploration.  

  • This program is not intended to encourage or discourage consumption.  

  • Participants are provided helpful educational resources to encourage learning beyond the CCC.  

  • To date, 100% of participants have reported a wider understanding of cannabis at the conclusion of the program.  


Anyone interested in learning more about the Cannabis Community Conversation program is encouraged to contact Elucidation Strategies.


Contact Elucidation Strategies for more information about cannabis educational services.

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