1/3 of People with Chronic Pain Choose Cannabis

Despite some recent headlines that cannabis pain relief is a placebo, a new study has found that 1/3 of people with chronic pain choose cannabis for relief. The study, published in JAMA Network Open, surveyed over 1,700 adults. Over half of them said cannabis allows them to decrease the use of prescription opioids and other pain medications. Beyond pain relief, the adults surveyed also said cannabis helped them with mental health issues that usually accompany chronic pain. One of the […]

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Study Analyzes Cannabis Content on TikTok, Including Youth Concerns

A research study published in Drug and Alcohol Review found that cannabis consumption is mainly depicted as positive on TikTok. However, lead author on the study, Brienna Rutherford, explained the thought behind the study. 

“Social media is a big part of the modern world, with adolescents reporting that they spend an average of eight hours online every day,” said Rutherford, a PhD candidate with University of Queensland in Australia. “Despite this high volume of use, little is known about the potential risks exposure to social media content depicting substance use may have on viewers. However, before you can assess the effects of exposure, we need to know what content is out there and accessible.”

The study, entitled “Getting high for likes: Exploring cannabis-related content on TikTok,” establishes the intent of analyzing cannabis content on TikTok, which has over one billion users, one-third of which are under 14 years of age. An estimated 63% of users between ages 12-17 use TikTok daily.

Seven main categories were defined, including Humor/Entertainment (71.74%), Experiences (42.90%), Lifestyle Acceptability (24.63%), Informative/How-To (7.5%), Creativity (5.4%), and Warning (2.7%).

“‘Humour/Entertainment’ videos often used comedic skits or storytimes to portray cannabis use positively to viewers,” researchers wrote. “Videos frequently featured discussions of users’ personal cannabis ‘Experiences’ through storytimes, re-enactments, and videos taken during active use. ‘Lifestyle Acceptability’ was also promoted using hashtags associated with pro-cannabis use communities (e.g. #cannamom, #stonersoftiktok, #stonertok).”

Researchers estimate that 54.14% of videos (viewed collectively over 417 million times) were portrayed as positive. Also, most of the TikTok users on videos were Caucasian males between 25-50 years of age. Of the videos analyzed for this study, only 50 videos actually depicted consumption, such as smoking, vaping, or eating edibles).

“The main take-home point from this study is that there is a high number of cannabis-related videos on TikTok that are a) publicly accessible via links (even without accounts!), b) have no age restrictions or content warning banners, and c) are promoting use of cannabis to viewers,” Rutherford added. “While many countries are moving towards legalization, that doesn’t mean cannabis use is without risk and none of this content addresses the potential negative health consequences associated with use.”

Rutherford explained the next steps toward identifying the impact of cannabis-related videos on TikTok. “The next step is obviously to assess whether viewing this content has any impact on viewers’ attitudes, behaviors or risk/norms perceptions around substance use,” said Rutherford. “Exposure to text- or image-based substance use content on platforms like Facebook and Instagram have been shown to influence the likelihood of substance use, so it is likely that a more engaging platform and content type (such as TikTok’s short-form videos) may have an even larger influence.”

Researchers also concluded that TikTok takes extra precautions to warn viewers that a specific video contains cannabis. This is similarly done with violent videos, or videos that might portray false information. 

“TikTok has taken some additional steps to regulate the availability of substance related content by removing access to hashtags which explicitly reference substance use (e.g., #cannabis). However, the videos themselves remain accessible—they are just no longer stored under these hashtags,” Rutherford said. “Removing the content or hashtags may also not be an effective approach as creators subvert hashtag rules anyway (using numerical values instead of letters ‘#w33d’ to get around the explicit reference rules).”

Social media channels have become home to many unique cannabis creators, although many other services such as Facebook or Instagram have frequently banned users who create cannabis content. High profile content creators such as YouTuber Chrissy Harless, whose account once had 46,000 subscribers, was recently terminated without an explanation. 

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1 in 4 Americans Consume Cannabis, Study Shows

Americans have come a long way when it comes to cannabis legalization and consumption. In 1969, Gallup’s first poll on cannabis legalization found that only 12% of Americans favoured cannabis legalization (1). Public opinion on cannabis legalization and consumption has changed a lot since. Cannabis legalization is building more momentum in the US, and attitudes […]

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New Study Suggests No Connection Between Cannabis And Strokes

Strokes account for roughly 1 in every 20 deaths in the US annually. Some reports have suggested that there’s a link between cannabis and strokes but is the evidence there?

The new study, published May 7th, entitled “Association Between Recent Cannabis Use and Acute Ischemic Stroke” was headed up by Carmela San Luis and published on Neurology.org. It looked at the alleged connection between cannabis use and ischemic stroke, basically concluding there is none.

Previous studies have linked cannabis to strokes, like a 2018 study published in the International Journal of Stroke. That study found that the risk of ischemic stroke could be increased as much as 29 percent among the recreational cannabis community. While that study wasn’t the clearest in terms of findings, it did send shockwaves around many circles.

Dr. Bonni Goldstein, Medical Director at Canna-Centers Wellness & Education in California, said, “The studies that come out on the dangers of cannabis have many issues in terms of direct causation,” according to a Weedmaps report. “It is extremely difficult to separate out the vast number of variables that confound these types of studies,” she said.

For a start, risk of stroke is down to many factors, including health conditions and obesity. That 2018 also didn’t have clarity on risk connected to dosage. That means that a lot of factors and variables were excluded from the conclusions. For example, the study didn’t take into accounts factors such as alcohol, tobacco, or pharmaceutical drugs.

According to Goldstein, without those variables, the review is “not particularly useful.” As Goldstein pointed out, “The authors of this report state that they cannot establish causation between the risk of stroke and recreational cannabis use, and this is unfortunate because they are putting out a headline which is meant to scare people,” she said.

While there’s a lot of evidence around that cannabis and CBD help with a range of medical issues, there’s also some proof that cannabis isn’t great for those with specific heart issues. Doctors will often encourage patients to take low doses of cannabis, and lower doses of THC, and to take more CBD-dominant medications. There are no studies to date, concluding that cannabis is harmful to the heart. While it can increase blood pressure in some, that doesn’t mean it leads to heart attacks.

Another study published in 2017 in the American Heart Association Journal Stroke Issue, looked at nearly 50,000 men from Sweden and found no connection between cannabis and heart disease or strokes. And according to Goldstein, cannabis may even reduce stroke risk factors in some people.

“Interestingly, cannabinoids have been shown to be neuroprotective antioxidants which support the brain, and CBD has been shown to be protective against stroke,” she said. There’s evidence to back that up too, like this Swiss study from 2010 which concluded that CBD – a compound in cannabis, “exerts positive pharmacological effects in ischemic stroke and other chronic diseases.”

Goldstein also pointed out that the review connecting stroke with cannabis was not published in a peer-reviewed journal and goes against other research, which seems to conclude the exact opposite about cannabis. Researchers are even looking into cannabis compounds as a realistic option for targeted post-stroke inflammation treatment, meaning that cannabis could potentially be used to treat stroke victims.

A lot more research is needed to understand how cannabis and CBD interact with human health conditions, to ascertain whether they are effective or not.

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