A new study with a modest sampling pool found that cannabis retail companies are not adhering to state restrictions on social media, and are targeting teens.
The study was published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs recently and online on January 19, and found that many recreational cannabis companies market their products in a way that appeals to children and teens, “flouting state regulations.” A press release was released the following day.
The study, “A Content Analysis of Cannabis Company Adherence to Marketing Requirements in Four States,” provided an analysis of social media posts from cannabis companies in a handful of legal states.
A team of researchers evaluated one year of publicly displayed posts on Facebook and Instagram by retail cannabis companies in four states—Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington—and evaluated if companies adhered to restrictions on social media.
Researchers looked for content that goes against restrictions, including branded promotions or discounts, modeling overconsumption, youth-focused messaging and health benefits. They also took a look at various state requirements.
They checked to see if companies displayed required warnings, including stating that cannabis is limited to people ages 21 and older, avoiding impaired driving and listing health risks.
But in the study, only 14 businesses were evaluated. Researchers evaluated 2,660 posts from those 14 businesses, to be exact.
“I had expected that cannabis companies were unlikely to fully adhere to existing guidelines,” said lead author Megan Moreno, M.D., M.S.Ed., M.P.H., division chief of general pediatrics and adolescent medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Some cannabis companies generated dozens of social media posts per day, and there is no current system in place to monitor or enforce these regulations. However, it