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Study: Millennials are savvy about cannabis safety

October 11, 2017
Brennan Linsley
In this Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016 file photo, an employee arranges glass display containers of marijuana on shelves at a retail and medical cannabis dispensary in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
SOURCE: Brennan Linsley

Of all age groups, millennials smoke the most ganja. And those who live in Colorado -- where recreational cannabis has been legal since 2014 -- have navigated a legal cannabis market for longer than young adults in any other state. If you wanted to know what millennials think about legal marijuana, you’d go to Colorado.

That’s exactly what researchers from Georgia State University, City University of New York, and University of California, San Francisco, and others did. In a recent study published in the Journal of the Society for the Study of Addiction, interviewers asked 32 young adults between the ages of 18 and 26 about their marijuana beliefs, on topics like potency, addiction, and chemicals. They found this:

  • The participants thought combustion smoking, from a joint, for example, is more harmful than smoking from an e-cigarette, vaporizer, or consuming edibles. One participant, 21-year-old Hunter (a pseudonym) said, “I know that smoking anything isn’t good for you. Carbon monoxide, right? You look at your pipe or… your bong, and it’s super black and resined. Obviously, my lungs are like that too. I cough up a lot of sh*t all the time, and it kind of looks gnarly.”
  • Edibles and concentrates, the participants believed, are more harmful than smoking flower, citing the risk of overdosing on THC.
  • They also thought natural products are healthier than those with chemical additives -- for example, unprocessed plants vs. tobacco cigarettes.
  • And lastly, the millennials thought that smokers can be physiologically addicted to nicotine, but only psychologically or lifestyle dependent on marijuana. Owen (again, not his real name), age 20, said the addictive component of marijuana was the “euphoric feeling.”

The study, funded by the the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health, concluded that if anti-smoking messaging campaigns (think: the Truth Campaign, Tips for Former Smokers) wanted to be successful, they should try including perceptions of cannabis “relevant to the experiences of young people.”

In other words, if you want to talk marijuana with millennials, use their language.