Instagram is a highly visual social networking site whose audience continues to grow, especially among young adults. In the present study, we examine marijuana-related content on Instagram to better understand the varied types of marijuana-related social networking occurring on this popular social media platform. We collected 417,561 Instagram posts with marijuana-related hashtags from November 29 to December 12, 2014. We assessed content of a random sample (n = 5000) of these posts with marijuana-related hashtags. Approximately 2136 (43 %) were explicit about marijuana and further analyzed. Of the 2136 marijuana-related posts, images of marijuana were common (n = 1568). Among these 1568 marijuana images, traditional forms (i.e., buds/leaves) were the most common (63 %), followed by some novel forms of marijuana, including marijuana concentrates (20 %). Among the 568 posts that displayed marijuana being ingested, 20 % showed someone dabbing marijuana concentrates. Marijuana-related advertisements were also observed among the 2136 marijuana-related posts (9 %). Our findings signal the promotion of marijuana use in its traditional plant-based form; trendy and novel modes of marijuana ingestion were also endorsed. This content along with the explicit marketing of marijuana that we observed on Instagram have potential to influence social norms surrounding marijuana use.
KeywordsMarijuana Social media Substance use Cannabis Risk behavior
Compliance with Ethical Standards
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health [grant numbers R01DA032843 (PCR), R01DA039455 (PCR)].
Conflict of Interest
One of the authors, Dr. Bierut, is listed as an inventor on Issued U.S. Patent 8, 080, 371, “Markers for Addiction,” covering the use of certain SNPs in determining the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of addiction. All other authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
The Washington University Human Research Protection Office granted this study a non-human determination. Therefore, consent was not needed for this study.
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