Cannabis Companies Target Teens on Social Media, Study Claims

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 was surprising to see how the presence of guidelines made a difference between states.”

What the Findings Show

Discounts or promotions were found in approximately 35 percent of the posts, researchers said. “Overconsumption” was found in 12 percent percent of all posts. Content containing warnings, “despite being required,” researchers said, were evident in less than half of all posts.

The researchers noted that Washington State, for example, prohibits displaying branded products, such as T-shirts with a company logo. But they found that about one percent of the posts on social media from Washington state cannabis companies ignored this restriction.

The research team did admit that “in states without this regulation, these types of posts appeared between five and 10 times more frequently. So while regulation did not guarantee compliance, it seemed to have an impact on how often companies shared content that may or may not be restricted.”

“As a pediatrician, I know that marketing and advertisements have a strong influence on kids and teens,” said Moreno. “Previous studies have shown how alcohol and tobacco companies’ marketing is associated with youth using these products.”

She continued, “Parents should talk with their kids about how cannabis companies seek to influence them by using youth-friendly approaches, like using cartoon characters and memes.”

The study was picked up by FOX23 News and ABC10 in New York at the time of writing.

Both Facebook and Instagram fall under the Meta umbrella, and we can’t help but wonder if studies such as this impact Meta policy. “I don’t think the results of this study have any impact on Meta censoring cannabis brands because they justify their actions by saying cannabis is federally illegal in the U.S. and therefore not allowed anywhere in the world, even in countries where it’s federally legal, like Canada,” ADCANN CEO Cody Hicks told High Times. ADCANN provides cannabis marketing tools, such as how to restore an Instagram account if it’s been disabled because of cannabis.

We Have Questions

If legal cannabis companies are targeting teens, it doesn’t appear to be working. A separate, broad study published in the JAMA Pediatrics—using data from national and state Youth Risk Behavior Surveys from 1993 to 2017, researchers from Montana State University, University of Oregon, University of Colorado–Denver and San Diego State University—examined states that had legalized medical and adult use cannabis and the likelihood of teen use (during the past 30 days).

The study analyzed data from 27 states and the District of Columbia, and seven states where adult use of cannabis is legal, during a 25-year time period. Adult-use cannabis laws were associated with a eight percent decrease in the likelihood of teens trying cannabis, as well as a nine percent reduction in the odds of frequent cannabis use, the study found. They found medical cannabis laws had no significant effect on teen cannabis use.

Usually, headlines about children and cannabis tend to pop up around Halloween, yearly. Bias focused on the harm (or benefits) of cannabis abounds in both clinical and nonclinical cannabis-related research.

The post Cannabis Companies Target Teens on Social Media, Study Claims appeared first on High Times.

Instagram Targets Cannabis-Related Social Media Accounts

Photo-based social media giant Instagram regularly takes action against cannabis-related accounts for violating the terms of service (TOS). Often enough, the reason behind a ban is often unclear to the accounts that are affected—which leads to detrimental loss in engagement for up-and-coming cannabis businesses. 

Instagram has an estimated 1 billion monthly active users since its initial release back in 2010. Any disruption to a thriving Instagram account, especially for cannabis-related accounts, can have devastating effects from a marketing perspective. In most cases, a violation of the TOS can be walked back through a series of steps, as detailed by marketing expert Colin Bambury. Bambury has encountered Instagram suspensions numerous times and wrote up a guide on his website Adcann to help others get their accounts reinstated.

“Social media is an important tool for marketers in any space. It allows brands to create connections and communicate with current and potential consumers anytime, anywhere,” Bambury writes. “With COVID-era lockdowns, consumers are staying inside and scrolling through social platforms more than ever, increasing the importance of digital advertising and native content creation. The cannabis industry is no exception—with many brands, retailers, producers, and accessory purveyors utilizing platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Snapchat.”

Bambury lists that Instagram and Facebook’s policies around “drugs and drug-related products” include ads that don’t promote the sale or use of “illegal, prescription or recreational drugs,” avoiding the use of images related images such as bongs or rolling papers, avoiding any use of images of a recreational drug itself, and avoiding images specifically showcasing recreational or medical cannabis. 

“Although Facebook acknowledges that cannabis can be both ‘recreational’ and ‘medical,’ implying that the substance is regulated and has medicinal value, their official website continues to communicate a zero-tolerance policy on ‘marijuana,’” he wrote in regard to the company’s image policies. “This poses a large problem for cannabis producers, brands, retailers, accessory producers, and marketing agencies looking to connect with consumers.”

On Instagram specifically, same-topic competition can also prove to be a nuisance. “Instagram will frequently prioritize removing content that is reported—which means that ‘haters’ and unethical competitors can, unfortunately, conspire to potentially have your page taken down,” he added.

“Up until recently, that was the main cause of content and account removal. However, in late 2020, Instagram and Facebook made an observable change to their AI restricted content detection, as cannabis accounts and photos were targeted to the extreme. If you rack up enough posts that violate IG’s community guidelines, your account will likely be disabled,” Bambury concluded.

Unfortunately, even adhering to these rules and policies has resulted in banned accounts on Instagram and Facebook. In June, Cannaclusive’s Instagram account was banned for the first time since the creation of those accounts in 2017—with Director of National Projects and Social Media Kassia Graham expressing her confusion about why the account was banned in the first place. She told Yahoo! Finance that it might have been because of a post that garnered a large amount of popularity, or that maybe it was because they tagged other Instagram accounts that had recently run into issues with Instagram violations.

Maria Brasco, social media manager at MATTIO Communications shared that even implementing her own strict rules on what to avoid posting, there doesn’t seem to be any logic behind Instagram’s banning rules. “Accounts that err on the side of caution are being penalized, while their industry colleagues are blatantly ignoring the rules, and nothing happens,” she told High Times

There isn’t a clear solution in how to 100 percent protect a cannabis-related Instagram account right now. Until federal legalization opens up new doors for issues like this, bans will remain commonplace—but in the meantime, those who manage cannabis accounts will benefit from becoming familiar with the account recovery process.

The post Instagram Targets Cannabis-Related Social Media Accounts appeared first on High Times.

Cannabis Influencers Over 10k

Instagram has become a playground for digital creators to really stretch their legs, and while they are starting to censor some cannabis-related content, many accounts are thriving.

The post Cannabis Influencers Over 10k appeared first on Latest Cannabis News Today – Headlines, Videos & Stocks.

Small business Spotlight — Blunts & Beans

Blunts and Beans Created by a pair of Moms with a dream and a realisation of a niche unfulfilled these moms are doing their part to end the stigma surrounding cannabis and cannabis-related accessories.

The post Small business Spotlight — Blunts & Beans appeared first on Latest Cannabis News Today – Headlines, Videos & Stocks.

It’s official! We have a winner of the ARCannabis Cup

If you’re following the retailer ARCannabis on Instagram, you most likely know about the huge hype they created with their ARCannabis Cup. But how did they create all of this excitement? Who did the consumers crown as the champion of the ARCannabis Cup? And How successful was the tournament actually? To answer these questions, we […]

The post It’s official! We have a winner of the ARCannabis Cup appeared first on Latest Cannabis News Today – Headlines, Videos & Stocks.

ARCannabis hosts Vancouver’s first virtual cannabis cup

Who’s the greatest licensed producer on the market? That’s the question that the retailer ARCannabis wants to answer.  To do so, they launched their first virtual Cannabis Cup called “the ARCannabis Cup”. In this competition, they allow us, the consumers, to vote for our favourite producers on the recreational market. We talked to the ARCannabis Cup […]

The post ARCannabis hosts Vancouver’s first virtual cannabis cup appeared first on Latest Cannabis News Today – Headlines, Videos & Stocks.

5 Great Must-Have Apps For Musicians And Artists

Whether you’re on the SkyTrain and the perfect melody slips into your head, or get a message from The Based God asking for beats while you’re hiking (true story), the 21st-century musician is just a tap away from making their personal music goals possible virtually anywhere, thanks to the world of smartphone apps.  Like a […]

The post 5 Great Must-Have Apps For Musicians And Artists appeared first on Latest Cannabis News Today – Headlines, Videos & Stocks.

Extreme Dabbing: Fun or Frivolous?

With the tide of legal cannabis continuing to rise, so has
the popularity of hash oil concentrates and dabbing — accompanied by the trend
of concentrate aficionados using homemade videos to showcase their love for inhaling
slabs of oozing, golden THC extracts. The average dab is well below a half gram
(just a small pearl of the potent stuff), but stoners like those in the videos
have taken dabbing to an extreme. So now that taking a dab that weighs multiple
grams in one hit has become a trend in cannabis culture, we have to ask: Is it
effective? Is it worth it? And are people insane?

Social media, of course, is the avenue for sharing these moments of massive dabbing. For example, a Colorado artist who calls himself Visualfiber runs a group on Facebook that has over 6,000 members dedicated to dabbing and often features videos of people dabbing multiple grams at a time. After dabs became his preferred way to ingest cannabis, Visualfiber says taking hits of up to 6 grams at a time became a personal challenge.

“I started pushing myself to see how much I could dab,” he
says. “And if there was an audience, I would try to make it look fun.”

Unsurprisingly, many dab videos on the internet or dab
stunts at events are part of building a personal or professional brand. In his
case, Visualfiber usually includes his dab-related artwork in his videos
alongside his globbing and says that he uses his platform to help others with
questions about dabbing.

But what risks are these artists running in the name of fame? While it’s impossible to fatally overdose on cannabis (and these videos are certainly proof of that), dabbing all that hash at once isn’t without its drawbacks.

According to Regina Nelson, Ph.D., a medical cannabis specialist, author and a founder of eCS Therapy Center, larger dabs increase the chances of experiencing unpleasant side effects like drops in blood pressure, which can lead to fainting, paranoia and coughing fits.

“Other than for recreational shock effects, few people really dab large amounts,” she says. “Most people will take several days to a week or more to consume only one single gram of cannabis concentrate via small dabs.”

Especially for folks that do not regularly consume cannabis, a tiny dab is definitely the way to start off. It’s easy to take a second hit, but impossible to erase a first one that was too ambitious. Dabs take effect within moments of consumption, so taking it slow until finding the right level is easy and recommended.

Rig choice matters, too — especially when it comes to making sure that you’re not too wasteful in your quest for excess. Pick a rig that won’t easily clog, will cool the hit by filtering through water and will allow reuse of the excess hash. This residue, called reclaim, is still good useable material. While not as potent as the initial concentrate, a study done by Massachusetts-based MCR Labs showed that among four samples of reclaim, the residual THC percentage ranged from 23 percent to 58 percent.

The reclaim is decarboxylated, good for both dabbing and edibles. Even in legal states, concentrates are pricey because of the amount of material and processing expertise required to produce them, so the ability to reuse is important. Using a drop-down attachment to separate the nail from the rig and give the reclaim a dry place to collect is ideal, making it easy to harvest in an immediately useable form.

Ultimately, the goal of cannabis consumption should be to
have a positive experience medicinally or recreationally, not to try to impress
anyone. Even for experienced users, it’s important to know the body’s limits.
Since multiple-gram dabs involve taking many inhales in a row, Visualfiber
recommends stopping if it’s hard to take a full deep inhale or the cold sweats
start. Those are signs it is time to sit back and enjoy the high, rather than
pushing it further.

In the end, it is much more efficient to take many small
dabs than a single big one. So instead of 10 grams all at once, consider that
even though such a feat is possible, the potency of concentrates means that
little is actually needed to achieve a delightfully stoney result. Plus, less
hash consumed now means more hash left for later!

TELL US, have you
ever taken a multi-gram dab?

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

The post Extreme Dabbing: Fun or Frivolous? appeared first on Cannabis Now.