Exposure to Pro and Anti-Cannabis Social Media Messages and Teens’ and College Students’ Intentions to Use Cannabis

Content analyses have documented that posts about cannabis are increasingly common on social media. The relationship between the cannabis-related content to which teens and college students are exposed on social media and how such content may be associated with intentions to use and use of cannabis is less known, however. We conducted an online survey with teens (N = 350) who lived in Washington state using online survey panel participants in June 2018 and with college students (N = 966) in a Washington state-wide university system in February and March 2019. Participants in both samples reported seeing both pro-cannabis and anti-cannabis messages on social media platforms.

  • Exposure to pro-cannabis messages on social media was associated with an increased intention to use cannabis.
  • Exposure to anti-cannabis messages on social media was indirectly associated with decreased intentions to use cannabis through negative outcome beliefs of cannabis use and, among college students, through perceived norms.
  • Among college students specifically, exposure to pro-cannabis messages on social media was also associated with more frequent cannabis use.
  • Health communicators could focus anti-cannabis messaging on negative outcome beliefs among teens and college students as well as norms among college students to potentially influence constructs associated with intentions and use.

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