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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU: Youth Are Engaging with Cannabis Brands on Social Media

The American legal cannabis market is set to surpass $12 billion by the end of 2019. But as states legalize non-medical marijuana, they are facing regulation challenges quite different from the early days of alcohol and tobacco marketing: Social media allows cannabis brands to reach a new level of engagement and interaction with youth.

Now, a new study co-authored by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers finds that one in three youth in states with legal recreational cannabis engage with cannabis brands on social media.

Published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, the study also shows that this engagement goes hand-in-hand with use: Adolescents who liked or followed marijuana marketing on social media were five times more likely to have used marijuana over the past year compared to those who did not, and adolescents who reported a favorite brand were eight times more likely.

“It is clear that the current methods of protecting youth are not working,” says lead author Ms. Pamela Trangenstein, who led the study analysis while a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Health Law, Policy & Management at BUSPH. “When 45 percent of youth report being online almost constantly, exposure to marijuana marketing in social media may put their health and futures at risk.”

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