Connection Between Cannabis Social Media Sites And Youth Weed Consumption, New Study Takes A Look

Washington State University researchers found young people see lots of positive cannabis messages on their social media sites.

“Youth, in particular, has really grown up bombarded with cannabis information compared to previous generations,” said Jessica Willoughby, first author of a study published in the journal Health Communication and an associate professor in WSU’s Murrow College of Communication. “We found that they were seeing more positive messages about using cannabis and a lot less about the risks.”

The study received partial funding through Washington State Initiative 502, which taxes the production, processing and wholesale as well as retail marijuana sales.

About The Study

According to a WSU press release made available to Benzinga: “These messages were also connected to the teens’ intentions to use cannabis, and for college students, with their actual use.”

Researchers, who surveyed 350 teens and 966 college students from across Washington state, found “over 80%, reported seeing pro-cannabis messages on social media, such as posts about being high or claims that marijuana is harmless,” per the study. Most of these pro-weed messages were spread by celebrities or through lyrics in songs.

Findings: The teens who reported seeing higher levels of positive messages were more likely to indicate an intention to use cannabis.

The study also showed that participants who reported seeing anti-cannabis messages saw them less often than pro-cannabis ones. Moreover, “among the youth who already held beliefs that cannabis use could cause negative outcomes, such as damaging their brain or doing worse in school, seeing anti-cannabis messages appeared to lower their intentions to use.” 

Cannabis Training In Health Classes At School 

Co-author Stacey Hust, a professor at WSU’s Murrow College of Communication, said parents may not understand that if their children are using social networking sites, they will probably see cannabis messages.

“We need to be getting training in schools at much younger ages. At the very least middle school and high school, health classes need to talk about cannabis and how it can be harmful to the developing brain,” Hust said.

Her colleague and co-author Willoughby agreed. “Prevention efforts can have an impact. Since youth are seeing more of that positive cannabis content, it’s worthwhile to put out more content highlighting the risks, especially to the young people like them.” 

Image Credits: and Bukhta Yurii on Shutterstock Edited By Benzinga

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