Study: Reddit Became Key Platform for Cannabis Conversations Among Young People Amid Pandemic

A recent study published in the journal PLOS One highlights the significant role social media, particularly Reddit, played in facilitating conversations about cannabis use among young people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study focused on the subreddit r/saplings, a popular forum for cannabis-related discussions, to understand the nature of information sought and shared by its users and how these conversations evolved during the pandemic.

Researchers analyzed 213 randomly selected posts and 2,546 comments from four different time periods: before the pandemic, during the first wave, summer, and the following fall. The study revealed a substantial increase in the volume of posts and comments throughout these periods, indicating that Reddit became an increasingly important platform for youth socialization and information exchange about cannabis during the pandemic.

The qualitative content analysis identified three major themes in the posts: how to acquire cannabis, how to use cannabis, and the associated consequences. At the onset of the pandemic, discussions primarily revolved around “places to acquire” cannabis and “future use.” However, as the pandemic progressed into the summer months, the focus shifted towards the “consequences” of cannabis use, with “tolerance” becoming a prominent topic.

The study noted that nearly all information shared in the subreddit came from personal opinions and experiences, with comments being generally thorough and responsive. Despite this active engagement, the researchers expressed concerns about the potential spread of misinformation due to the lack of verifiable information being exchanged among users.

The findings suggest that young people viewed Reddit as a viable platform for cannabis-related discussions, yet the reliance on peer comments highlights the risk of misinformation. The researchers recommend interventions that provide clear and accurate cannabis-related information in accessible formats.

More information on this study can be found by clicking here.

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