Scientists have begun mining social media to understand cannabis culture. In a new study that is set to be published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers collected data from over 2 million posts on Reddit to study cannabis consumption trends.
The researchers looked at posts made between 2010 and 2016 with the objective of finding out what forms of cannabis consumption are most popular among users, reports Marijuana Moment. They discovered that smoking is still king, but dabbing has been steadily growing in popularity over the years.
Additionally, the study also rated different forms of consumption on a scale of 1–10 based on their popularity among Redditors:
- Smoking: [6.8]
- Vaping: [6.7]
- Edibles: [7.2]
- Dabbing: [7.8]
- Butane hash oil: [7.2]
One final thing the researchers looked for was any adverse affects reported by the Redditors. They found that there was "very few adverse effects were reported," and the numbers didn't change much across products.
If you're a regular cannabis consumer, you may be thinking that none of these findings are all that surprising. But this kind of research is useful for tracking a community's evolution in real-time, without the kinds of issues associated trying to analyze past events.
"Analysis of social media data has been used to complement other epidemiologic methods as a strategy for understanding emerging trends in real time with limited social desirability or recall bias," the study authors noted.
Further, these kinds of findings have potential use as market research, helping businesses target their product offerings to current trends and even helping would-be cannabis consumers make informed decisions about how to get started.
"The frequent occurrence of the word 'first' for vaping, dabbing, and edibles indicate that many posters are using or considering using for the first time," wrote the study's authors. "With diverging medical and scientific opinions regarding the efficacy and safety of cannabis use, new and experienced cannabis users may be seeking out peer-generated information in online communities and social media about these newer forms of use."