Dr. Kevin P. Hill

Hartwick College 2017 Health Summit to Focus on Marijuana

March 30, 2017

Dr. Kevin P. Hill of Harvard University Medical School will present “Marijuana: The Unbiased Truth about Medical Use and Legalization” as the topic of the fifth annual Hartwick College Health Summit. Hill’s presentation will take place Saturday, April 8 from 1:30 – 4 p.m. in Johnstone Science Center, Room 202 on the College campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Refreshments will be served following the presentation, and Hill will join a panel discussion featuring local experts discussing the topic from 3 – 4 p.m.

In his presentation, Hill will discuss the pros and cons of marijuana, and address key questions around its use: Will this help those suffering from chronic pain and other ailments? If so, what are the downsides? Does legalization increase recreational use, and might it stem the use of opioids?

Hill is an addiction psychiatrist, and serves as director of the Substance Abuse Consultation Service of McLean Hospital’s Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Belmont, MA. He is also an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Hill graduated from Skidmore College and Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia before training in psychiatry at the Harvard Longwood Psychiatry Residency Training Program in Boston. Hill earned a master’s degree in Health Sciences from the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at Yale, and also completed the Partners Healthcare Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship Program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

He feels people try to paint marijuana with a broad brush.

“It’s easier to think of things as black or white, good or bad,” he said. “In the polarizing debate over marijuana, some pro-marijuana folks would like you to believe that marijuana is harmless. Some anti-marijuana advocates would like you to think you are doomed if you use marijuana. Neither is true. With marijuana, the truth lies in the middle. When a young person comes to see me for problems with marijuana, I need to figure out what are the perceived benefits of their use and weigh those benefits against the problems that may be resulting or worsened by their use. If I simply hammer them with reasons why they should not use marijuana, I probably won’t get anywhere with them and they are not likely to return. A sensible, balanced approach is best.”

“This year’s topic was selected due to the increase of medical marijuana being recommended by physicians, and the growing movement in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana use,” said Coordinator of Academic and Pre-Professional Advising Joseph Ficano, who is also a faculty advisor for the Health Summit.

“Regionally, Massachusetts has already legalized marijuana, and it is being considered by the legislature of Vermont,” he added. “It is reasonable to think that New York might soon consider it. Hartwick students are keen to explore the implications of marijuana use in public health and healthcare in general.”

The Health Summit is a project supported each year by the Pre-Health Club and Health Professions Advising Program in an effort to shed light on topics regarding health care and/or public health.

For more information on the Health Summit, contact Ficano at (607) 431-4564 or ficanoj@hartwick.edu.