Can Free Access to Weed-Vaping Videos Increase Consumption?
Australian researchers at the University of Queensland suggest that the lack of restrictions to YouTube videos that illustrate vaping cannabis as joyful could lead to increased cannabis consumption in adolescents.
According to Ph.D. student Carmen Lim, the study’s lead, 52% of the videos displaying risky behavior, such as vaping an entire cartridge of THC, did not have any age restrictions.
Researchers examined themes and metrics of 200 YouTube videos from 2016 to 2020, paying particular attention to the number of views, likes, dislikes, etc.
Six types of videos were the most prominent: advertisements, product reviews, contemplative videos, reflective videos, precautionary videos, videos of people engaged in potentially dangerous cannabis-related activities, and tutorials (the last two types attracting the largest number of viewers).
Lim marks that the increase in potency of cannabis over the last twenty years is concerning. The increasing number of young people consuming cannabis is alarming, especially considering the easy access to videos promoting such behavior.
According to Gary Chan, the study’s co-lead, only ¼ of the videos studied draws attention to the potential side-effects of vaping cannabis. Therefore, the idea is to put an age restriction on such videos.
Moreover, Washington State University found that frequent exposure to cannabis-related advertisements meant greater chances of weed consumption in adolescents aged 13–17.
On the other hand, Canadian statistics show that cannabis legalization is not significantly related to increased consumption (20% of young people aged 15–17 reported cannabis use over the past three months, compared to 10% examined after the legalization).
Lim and Chan hope that the study’s findings could help regulate access to cannabis-related videos through age restrictions.