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Cannabis ads have little influence on consumption

Sara Tiradossi

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Exposure to cannabis ads does not increase the use of the plant, according to a new study funded by National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The objective of the study, published this week in the American Journal of Public Health, was to assess exposure to cannabis advertising in Oregon after the start of retail cannabis sales in October 2015. The survey involved around 4,000 Oregon adults aged 18 years old and older in November 2015 and April to May 2016, and more than half of them (54.8%) reported seeing cannabis ads in the past month.

These adults reported they most frequently saw storefront (74.5%), street side (66.5%), and billboard (55.8%) advertising. Exposure did not significantly differ by participant’s age or cannabis use, but was higher among those living in counties with retail sales (56.5%) than in counties without (32.5%).

Results of the study found people who do not use cannabis and those aged 18 to 24 were as exposed to advertising as other groups, following the start of retail sales.

“Exposure to any marijuana advertising in the past month did not significantly differ by participant gender, race/ethnicity, highest level of education completed, home ownership, residence in a metro area, or marijuana use,” the study reported.

Among people who saw a cannabis ad within the past 30 days, 53 percent said they have never consumed cannabis, 54.9 percent described themselves as former users or had “experimented” with the drug and 57.6 percent are current users.

In addition to the findings about commercial advertising exposure, the study looked at exposure to “marijuana health risk messages” and mentioned how cannabis dispensaries can actually provide educational information about the possible risks of cannabis use that might not otherwise reach potential consumers.

“Our study found limited exposure to marijuana health risk messages among adults in Oregon,” the Oregon public health experts, wrote. “Nearly 5 times as many adults overall reported near daily exposure to marijuana advertising (7.4%) compared with health risk messages (1.5%). However, during the time of this study the only health risk messages being broadly implemented were 3 posters required at the point of sale about preventing child poisonings, use during pregnancy, and impaired driving.”

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Cannabis ads have little influence on consumption