More than 65% of the marijuana-related messages posted by adolescents on Twitter indicate a positive attitude toward marijuana use, and of the teens’ original tweets evaluated as part of a recent study, nearly 43% suggest personal use of the drug. Sharing these positive perceptions and acceptance of marijuana use on social media contributes to normalization of the behavior, according to the article published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.
In “Prevalence of Marijuana-Related Traffic on Twitter, 2012-2013: A Content Analysis,” Leah Thompson, Frederick Rivara, MD, MPH, and Jennifer Whitehill, PhD, University of Washington, Seattle, Amherst College, and University of Massachusetts Amherst, assessed and compared the marijuana-related content on Twitter during two 3-week periods: one before and one after the 2012 U.S. elections in which two states legalized recreational marijuana use. The authors focused on original Twitter messages posted by adolescents, reporting overwhelmingly positive comments on the medical and social benefits of marijuana, with little mention of its potential for causing harm.
“As marijuana legalization continues across the U.S., providing accurate information concerning its benefits and potential harm will become ever more important,” says Editor-in-Chief Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCB, BCN, Interactive Media Institute, San Diego, California. “Social media networks such as Twitter may be one of the key sources with which to disseminate this information to teens.”
Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Health Sciences under award number UL1TR000423 and the National Institute for Child Health and Development under award number T32HD057822. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
Prevalence of Marijuana-Related Traffic on Twitter, 2012–2013: A Content Analysis, Thompson Leah, Rivara Frederick P., and Whitehill Jennifer M., Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, doi:10.1089/cyber.2014.0620, published online 16 June 2015.