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Stephen Lankenau, PhD

Stephen Lankenau

Professor and Director of the Medical Cannabis Research Center
Community Health and Prevention
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PhD, Sociology, University of Maryland
MA, Sociology, University of Maryland
BA, Sociology, University of Vermont


Dr. Stephen E. Lankenau is a sociologist who combines public health concerns and mixed methods to the study of substance use and health outcomes associated with use, including homelessness, HIV/AIDS, and overdose as well as healing and recovery.

He is director of Drexel's Medical Cannabis Research Center and is leading a patient registry study of medical cannabis patients in Pennsylvania to determine the impact of medical cannabis on qualifying medical conditions, e.g., chronic pain, PTSD, anxiety.

He is leading a five-year renewal study of medical and personal use of cannabis among young adults in Los Angeles to describe patterns of use and health behaviors. In total, the study period will extend from 2013 to 2024 (

Lastly, he is co-leading a five-year study to deploy a mobile phone application (UnityPhilly) to deliver naloxone to overdose events in real-time across Philadelphia (

He teaches graduate courses on proposal design, qualitative methods, and substance use.

Research Interests

  • Mental Health and Behavioral health
  • Substance Use
  • Urban Health


Conn, B.M., Brammer, W.A., Choi, S., Fedorova, E.V., Ataiants, J., Lankenau, S.E., & Wong, C.F. (2024). Mental and physical health-related cannabis motives mediate the relationship between childhood trauma and problematic cannabis use over time among emerging adult cannabis users. Substance Use and Misuse, 59(2), 193-207.

Fedorova, E.V., Mitchell, A., Finkelstein, M., Ataiants, J., Wong, C.F, Conn, B., & Lankenau, S.E. (2023). Pre-post cannabis legalization for adult use: A trend study of two cohorts of young adult cannabis users in Los Angeles. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 1-11.

Khalemsky, M., Khalemsky, A., Lankenau, S., Ataiants, J., Roth, A., Marcu, G., & Schwartz, D.G. (2023). Predictive dispatch of volunteer first responders: algorithm development and validation. JMIR Mhealth and Uhealth, 11:e41551.

DiGuiseppi, G. T., Fedorova, E. V., Conn, B., Lankenau, S. E., Davis, J. P., Ataiants, J., & Wong, C. F. (2023). Understanding changes in social cannabis use among young adults during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A social network analysis. Cannabis, 6(1): 20-33.

Khurana, S., Fedorova, E.V., Kaur, H., Mitchell, A., Kosdon, S., Ataiants, J., Conn, B., Wong, C.F., & Lankenau, S.E. (2022). “I feel validated”: Participation in a medical cannabis program in the context of legalized recreational use. Journal of Drug Issues, 52(4): 601–615.

See Dr. Lankenau's complete list of publications on Google Scholar