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CANNABIS WIKI CONFERENCE & EXPO
CANNABIS WIKI CONFERENCE & EXPO
CANNABIS WIKI CONFERENCE & EXPO

Does cannabis content belong on TikTok?

Published Jun 17, 2022 01:00 p.m. ET
iStock / hapabapa

Practically all humans are on social media these days, with our youngest generations taking over certain platforms like Snapchat and TikTok to show off dance moves, tell funny jokes, and share cute videos, some of which can be incredibly educational and entertaining. Parents are, as they have always been, at odds over whether or not this is a good thing, and now that cannabis is being tossed into the mix, even those with no qualms against their children having such a strong online presence are questioning this new avenue of exposures impact on developing minds.

Even pro-pot parents aren't exactly celebrating this topic being added to their children's TikTok feed, and some researchers are working towards solidifying those concerns with worrisome headlines, such as "Most cannabis use on TikTok is positive" as if that's somehow a bad thing. The truth is they're not entirely wrong, as is proven by a recent study on the subject, at least when it comes to the high opinions of cannabis content creators on the platform.

The research

The new research published in the Drug and Alcohol Review looked at cannabis-related content on several social media platforms, including TikTok, and they did find that most videos depicted cannabis use in a positive light. Using a sample of more than 800 videos found using 9 of the most popular plant-inspired hashtags, they identified 7 key themes, including:

Warning (2.7%)

Creativity (5.4%)

Informative How-to (7.5%)

Lifestyle Acceptability (24.6%)

Experiences (42.9%)

Humor/Entertainment (71.7%)

Experiences, Humor/Entertainment, and Lifestyle Acceptability videos seemed to portray cannabis in a positive light, and they were watched far more often (417 million views) than neutral depictions (331 million views), while those considered to be negative garnered only 28 million views. However, it is also important to note that out of all of these samples, only 50 showed actual cannabis use.

Is cannabis content on TikTok problematic?

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CANNABIS WIKI CONFERENCE & EXPO
CANNABIS WIKI CONFERENCE & EXPO
CANNABIS WIKI CONFERENCE & EXPO

Media outlets all over have latched onto this study as proof that there's too much cannabis content on TikTok while promoting a change in rules that could limit or eliminate its existence altogether. Some point to the fact that users' ages aren't verified before watching – a requirement of all cannabis websites – and that you don't even need an account to view the videos, making access incredibly easy, even for youth who aren't yet allowed to create a profile. That is all, of course, correct, but what these naysayers don't realize is how much good this kind of positive exposure can do for underage persons.

Why TikTok is good for young people who want to learn about cannabis

Cannabis subjects aren't inherently dangerous. In fact, we know that keeping young adults away from relevant information pertaining to even the most toxic products out there can cost lives. We teach our children about chemical symbols and how to identify alcoholic beverages, neither of which results in higher rates of accidental use, consumption, or handling. Online and even on TikTok, our young people are exposed to videos about cigarettes, fixing dangerous heavy machinery, and all sorts of other things that are often viewed as risky, and yet we continue to support and even encourage that content existing, so why does cannabis need to be treated differently?

The other key thing that no one is talking about is how much even silly videos on TikTok can teach our children in a matter of seconds, a simple motion that's going to do nothing but help to reverse the stigma that affects so many people including those who live where the plant and its products are legal. What our younger generations learn, or in some cases, unlearn from watching positive videos about cannabis is establishing a foundation for future consumers and patients to enjoy.

The problem isn't likely with the content that exists so much as it is about the lack of information covering subjects that might appease parents and caregivers more, such as the dangers of taking high doses, expert concerns surrounding cannabis use before the brain is fully developed, or the risks of smoking. Luckily, that's a much easier task to take on since creating content on this platform is free. Doctors, pediatricians, and other experts could balance the scales by creating educational resources geared more towards younger people.

When TikTok trends turn dangerous

Of course, we've all seen one simple video or challenge go wrong. The Tide pod challenge sent hundreds of youth to hospital, leaving many with scars and health problems that might never completely heal. Similarly, the road dancing challenge led to dire situations where teens and even adults were run over or in motor vehicle accidents. Technically, any platform is open to abuse by those who either enjoy or don't understand the dangerous precedence they're setting, and that responsibility falls on content creators.

The responsibility of cannabis content creators

TikTok is free, easy to access, and a fun way for both regular everyday people and content creators to express themselves, share views and experiences and build a following, and it's entirely reasonable for us to expect these creative minds to abide by simple, common-sense rules, especially when it comes to cannabis. Don't advocate for irresponsible use. Avoid glorifying or stretching the truth to make cannabis more appealing, and for the sake of everyone on the platform, be kind while always keeping in mind the fact your audience might not be of legal age to consume.

Tips and tricks for cannabis marketing on social media
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CANNABIS WIKI CONFERENCE & EXPO
CANNABIS WIKI CONFERENCE & EXPO
CANNABIS WIKI CONFERENCE & EXPO

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