Prevention Science

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 127–137 | Cite as

Exposure to and Content of Marijuana Product Reviews

  • Patricia A. Cavazos-Rehg
  • Melissa J. Krauss
  • Shaina J. Sowles
  • Gabrielle M. Murphy
  • Laura J. Bierut


Many individuals now seek out product reviews in order to make an informed decision prior to making a purchase. In this study, we investigate consumers’ exposure to and content within product reviews about marijuana because of their potential to shape marijuana purchasing decisions. The terms “weed review,” “marijuana review,” and “cannabis review” were searched on YouTube on June 10–11, 2015; the team viewed and coded the content of 83 product review videos about marijuana. In addition, we surveyed young adult (18–34 years old) current (past month) marijuana users (n = 742) from across the USA online to assess exposure to product reviews about marijuana and associations with socio-demographic characteristics and marijuana use behaviors. In our content analysis of videos, we observed that the reviewers tended to consume marijuana during the video and often shared personal, favorable experiences towards the marijuana they ingested (e.g., became as high as possible or experienced positive effects on physical and mental health). Most videos normalized marijuana use and could be easily accessed by underage youth. About one third (34%) of the survey participants viewed/sought a product review about marijuana in the past 30 days. In a multivariable logistic regression model, living in a state where recreational use is legal or using multiple forms of marijuana was associated with increased odds of viewing/seeking marijuana reviews. Prevention messages should counter product reviews about marijuana that tend to normalize and promote marijuana use given that they are more readily viewed by individuals who are increasingly susceptible to marijuana’s potential harms.


Social networking Internet advertising Substance abuse and addiction 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health [R01DA032843, R01DA039455] and the Washington University Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences grant [UL1 TR000448] from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).

Conflict of Interest

Dr. Bierut is listed as an inventor on Issued US 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 conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

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.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study 1. Study 2 was reviewed by the Washington University Human Research Protection Office and granted a non-human determination. Therefore, consent was not needed for this study.


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia A. Cavazos-Rehg
    • 1
  • Melissa J. Krauss
    • 1
  • Shaina J. Sowles
    • 1
  • Gabrielle M. Murphy
    • 1
  • Laura J. Bierut
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryWashington University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA

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