Why Cannabis Education is More Important Than Ever
In today’s increasingly digital world, it is unsurprising that 52% of people get their news from digital platforms. Within that, of the people aged 18-29, 42% get their news from social media exclusively (Shearer, 2021). In terms of cannabis education, this is vital to know. Cannabis research is an ever-evolving field because as more and more states legalize its use, the need for resources, information, testing, and more increases.
Because of cannabis’s federally illegal status, cannabis content, even educational content, is banned on popular apps like TikTok and impeded on others like Instagram and Facebook. With an American user base of around 80 million people (Wallaroo Media, 2022), TikTok can reach people far and wide. However, TikTok has strict guidelines on what can and cannot exist on its platform. When New York marijuana regulators started an educational advertising campaign to inform New Yorkers about where to purchase cannabis, where to legally use it, how to safely consume it, and more, they were met with harsh restrictions by TikTok’s platform (Jaeger, 2022).
Statistically speaking, nearly 43 percent of young adults consumed cannabis, one way or another, in 2021 (Searing, 2022). In fact, the CDC reports that 48.2 million Americans used it at least once in 2019 (2021). Here is the thing: with so many ways to use cannabis (smoking, vaporizing, ingesting, etc.), consumers should understand the basics, including the differences between each and their expected effects. However, cannabis’s federal status limits the amount of research and funding that can go its way. The CDC says there is not enough evidence to point to which method of consumption is the safest (2021), and by extension, it is hard to know the extent of the benefits and dangers of use, which further points to the need for more research and education.
Likewise, widespread marijuana consumption without education has led to almost “90% of (Canadian) cannabis users partaking in some kind of higher-risk consumption behavior, such as using high-potency products or smoking as the main way of consumption, which is considered high-risk because of its harmful effects on the respiratory system” (Najafizada et al., 2022). Najafizada et al. argue that the current Canadian educational approach (and American approach, because they are very similar) effectively lumps cannabis with other illicit substances and focuses on abstinence and potential harm, which is not enough (2022). The abstinence-only approach to drug education in the U.S. is inconsistent, with schools tailoring their drug education approach at will (Kumar et al., 2013). This has resulted in predominantly White/affluent schools having significantly more prevention programs than schools with predominantly African American, Hispanic, or less affluent populations (Kumar et al., 2013). Despite whatever prevention programs are in place, 38% of high school students still reported lifetime use of marijuana in 2019 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021).
Essentially, the existing drug education methods are not working. Additionally, when so many people get their information from social media, it is dangerous for platforms like TikTok to continue following this abstinence-only approach. Instead, certain scholars advocate for a lower-risk harm-reduction approach (Fischer et al., 2017). Fischer et al. propose promoting ten scientifically tested, lower-risk behaviors that help adults consume cannabis safely. Some of their suggestions are: use in moderation; the lower the THC levels, the better; and abstain from synthetic cannabinoid use when possible (2017).
By promoting such behaviors in educational settings, they argue that “cannabis use may be reduced by informed behavioral choices among users” (Fischer et al., 2017). If people know the dangers of reckless cannabis consumption and are encouraged to consume safely, there may be a decrease in cannabis-related health issues. The essential question is: how can anyone make informed decisions about their bodies without access to all the information? By switching to inclusive, science-based educational options for cannabis consumption, people will have the opportunity to make educated decisions.
As a cannabis testing lab network, we know the importance of safe practices. Our facilities across the United States test for microbiological contaminants, pesticides, terpenes, cannabinoid potency, heavy metals, and more; contact us today for all your cannabis testing needs.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, June 11). Frequently asked questions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 23, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/faqs.htm
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, June 8). Data and statistics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 23, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/data-statistics.htm
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, September 8). Teens. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 23, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/health-effects/teens.html
Fischer, B., Russell, C., Sabioni, P., van den Brink, W., Foll, B., Hall, W., Rehm, J., & Room, R. (2017, August). Lower-risk cannabis use guidelines: A comprehensive update of evidence and recommendations. American Journal of Public Health. Retrieved September 23, 2022, from https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.2017.303818
Jaeger, K. (2022, May 26). New York marijuana regulators ask TikTok to stop banning cannabis education advertising. Marijuana Moment. Retrieved September 23, 2022, from https://www.marijuanamoment.net/new-york-marijuana-regulators-ask-tiktok-to-stop-banning-cannabis-education-advertising/
Kumar, R., O’Malley, P. M., Johnston, L. D., & Laetz, V. B. (2013, December). Alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use prevention programs in U.S. schools: A descriptive summary. Prevention science : the official journal of the Society for Prevention Research. Retrieved September 23, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3706520/
Najafizada, M., Petersen, B. K., Donnan, J., Bishop, L., & Brennan, S. (2022, May 3). Cannabis education should aim to normalize - not prevent - safe and legal use. The Conversation. Retrieved September 23, 2022, from https://theconversation.com/cannabis-education-should-aim-to-normalize-not-prevent-safe-and-legal-use-153966
Searing, L. (2022, September 1). Nearly 43 percent of young adults used marijuana in 2021. The Washington Post. Retrieved September 23, 2022, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2022/09/06/marijuana-young-adults/
Shearer, E. (2021, January 12). More than eight-in-ten Americans get news from Digital Devices. Pew Research Center. Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/01/12/more-than-eight-in-ten-americans-get-news-from-digital-devices/
Tiktok statistics - everything you need to know [aug 2022 update]. Wallaroo Media. (2022, August 13). Retrieved September 23, 2022, from https://wallaroomedia.com/blog/social-media/tiktok-statistics/