Marijuana Smoking in Public Spaces 
in Los Angeles County:
Key Findings from the 2018-2019 Marijuana 
Public Smoking Initiative (MPSI) Surveys

Purpose & Objectives

Since the passage of California Proposition 64 (Adult Use of Marijuana Act) in 2016, many community residents – especially parents and business owners – have expressed concerns about marijuana smoking in public places in Los Angeles County (LAC). In response, LAC Department of Public Health Substance Abuse Prevention and Control (SAPC) implemented the countywide Marijuana Public Smoking Initiative (MPSI) to document the prevalence and issues of marijuana smoking in shared spaces (e.g., apartments, parks, businesses, and schools) across LAC and to engage community stakeholders in the development of data-driven community prevention strategies that prevent, reduce, eliminate, or identify alternatives to marijuana public smoking.

The MPSI Workgroup, which is led by SAPC Health Outcomes and Data Analytics (HODA) Unit in collaboration with the SAPC Community and Youth Engagement Unit and SAPC-contracted community prevention service providers, worked closely together to develop and conduct the MPSI survey to accomplish the following objectives:

Assessment: Document the prevalence of marijuana smoking in shared spaces (e.g., multi-unit housing, parks, business/schools, etc) since the passage of Proposition 64.

Capacity Building: Mobilize concerned community stakeholders to prioritize survey findings and capacity building by raising awareness and educating about the provisions of Proposition 64 including marijuana public smoking.

Planning and Implementation: Work collectively to develop and implement data-driven community prevention initiatives, strategies, and/or policies to prevent and reduce marijuana public smoking.

Evaluate the entire process (assessment, capacity building, planning, implementing) to identify other opportunities and measure impact.

Data Collection

Between October 2018 and July 2019, SAPC-contracted prevention providers administered brief interview surveys to a diverse sample of youth and adult community members across a variety of public places in LAC.

A total of 13,456 surveys were collected across different public locations, including apartments (6%), businesses (10%), parks (26%), schools (27%), community outreach events (22%), and other public locations (e.g., bus stops, community centers, and libraries, 9%) (Figure 1).

Surveys were collected across all 8 service planning areas (SPAs). Most surveys (25%) were collected in SPA 4, followed by SPA 3 (19%), and SPA 7 and SPA 2 (14%, respectively).

Note: "Other" includes SPA 1 (N=151, 1%) and SPA 5 (N=470, 4%). 


The majority of survey participants were female (55%), Latino (56%), between the ages of 26 to 64 (50%), and heterosexual (86%) (Figures 3-6).

Contact Us

This story was developed by the Health Outcomes and Data Analytics (HODA) Unit of the Substance Abuse Prevention and Control (SAPC) in the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. For information regarding this story, please contact Tina Kim, PhD at 

Updated 12/24/2019.