Dr. Freisthler is an expert in incorporating cutting edge spatial analysis methods through Geographic Information Systems (GIS), spatial statistics, and spatial econometrics in 1) understanding how health and social problems vary across geographic areas, such as neighborhoods, 2) identifying those areas in a community which are at risk for developing or already experiencing high levels of harms based on a growing understanding of neighborhood ecologies, and 3) examining how the location of services may further help or hinder the development of problems in neighborhood areas. She leads the Spatial Analysis Lab in the Department of Social Welfare (http://uclaspatialanalysislab.com ) and the Child Abuse and Neglect (CAN) Social Ecological Models Consortium. She is particularly interested in how the substance use environment (e.g., alcohol outlet and medical marijuana dispensaries) is related to a variety of harms, including crime and child maltreatment. She also studies how service availability and accessibility may reduce these harms in local areas.
Dr. Freisthler directs a study of medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles and Sacramento to understand how regulations designed to reduce densities of cannabis dispensaries affects crime and use and to determine whether types of medical cannabis users cluster in dispensaries within communities, and whether clustering is increased in areas with many dispensaries, leading to increased problems. This five year study is funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse grant R01-DA032715. More information can be found at http://www.uclamedicalmarijuanaresearch.com/