Content analysis of online product descriptions from cannabis retailers in six US states

Mary H. Luc, Samantha W. Tsang, Johannes Thrul, Ryan D. Kennedy, Meghan B. Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: As the purchase of cannabis becomes legalized in US states, cannabis marketing presents an unexplored regulatory landscape. Research examining other consumer products indicates marketing informs consumer product perceptions, use expectancies, and behavior. The current study examined how cannabis products are described on US cannabis retailer websites. Methods: We used the National Cannabis Industry Association website to identify 27 retailers, linked to brick-and-mortar locations in six states, who advertised cannabis flower products online, and thematically coded descriptions of each product sold (N=428). Results: Cannabis strain product descriptions fell into six categories: psychoactive effects, physical effects, social effects, sensory profile, therapeutic and curative claims, and negatives/warnings. Relaxation/stress relief (47.4%) and happiness (43.9%) were the most commonly described psychoactive effects, and relaxation/sedation was the most common physical effect (41.6%). Many products noted sensory characteristics, such as fruity (38.1%) or sweet (31.3%) taste/smell. A significant number of retailers claimed that strains could relieve pain and depression. Reports of potential side effects or warnings were less common. Conclusion: Online cannabis retailers are making potentially unsubstantiated product claims. Future work should examine the potential for these claims to inform consumer behavior. Regulations should ensure that cannabis labeling does not mislead consumers or promote unsafe use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102593
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Volume75
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2020

Fingerprint

Cannabis
Marketing
Happiness
Smell
Industry
Depression
Pain
Research

Keywords

  • Advertising
  • Cannabis
  • Marijuana
  • Marketing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy

Cite this

Content analysis of online product descriptions from cannabis retailers in six US states. / Luc, Mary H.; Tsang, Samantha W.; Thrul, Johannes; Kennedy, Ryan D.; Moran, Meghan B.

In: International Journal of Drug Policy, Vol. 75, 102593, 01.2020.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{09c2dd5a9db7404ca1037199a8154421,
title = "Content analysis of online product descriptions from cannabis retailers in six US states",
abstract = "Background: As the purchase of cannabis becomes legalized in US states, cannabis marketing presents an unexplored regulatory landscape. Research examining other consumer products indicates marketing informs consumer product perceptions, use expectancies, and behavior. The current study examined how cannabis products are described on US cannabis retailer websites. Methods: We used the National Cannabis Industry Association website to identify 27 retailers, linked to brick-and-mortar locations in six states, who advertised cannabis flower products online, and thematically coded descriptions of each product sold (N=428). Results: Cannabis strain product descriptions fell into six categories: psychoactive effects, physical effects, social effects, sensory profile, therapeutic and curative claims, and negatives/warnings. Relaxation/stress relief (47.4{\%}) and happiness (43.9{\%}) were the most commonly described psychoactive effects, and relaxation/sedation was the most common physical effect (41.6{\%}). Many products noted sensory characteristics, such as fruity (38.1{\%}) or sweet (31.3{\%}) taste/smell. A significant number of retailers claimed that strains could relieve pain and depression. Reports of potential side effects or warnings were less common. Conclusion: Online cannabis retailers are making potentially unsubstantiated product claims. Future work should examine the potential for these claims to inform consumer behavior. Regulations should ensure that cannabis labeling does not mislead consumers or promote unsafe use.",
keywords = "Advertising, Cannabis, Marijuana, Marketing",
author = "Luc, {Mary H.} and Tsang, {Samantha W.} and Johannes Thrul and Kennedy, {Ryan D.} and Moran, {Meghan B.}",
year = "2020",
month = "1",
doi = "10.1016/j.drugpo.2019.10.017",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "75",
journal = "International Journal of Drug Policy",
issn = "0955-3959",
publisher = "Elsevier",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Content analysis of online product descriptions from cannabis retailers in six US states

AU - Luc, Mary H.

AU - Tsang, Samantha W.

AU - Thrul, Johannes

AU - Kennedy, Ryan D.

AU - Moran, Meghan B.

PY - 2020/1

Y1 - 2020/1

N2 - Background: As the purchase of cannabis becomes legalized in US states, cannabis marketing presents an unexplored regulatory landscape. Research examining other consumer products indicates marketing informs consumer product perceptions, use expectancies, and behavior. The current study examined how cannabis products are described on US cannabis retailer websites. Methods: We used the National Cannabis Industry Association website to identify 27 retailers, linked to brick-and-mortar locations in six states, who advertised cannabis flower products online, and thematically coded descriptions of each product sold (N=428). Results: Cannabis strain product descriptions fell into six categories: psychoactive effects, physical effects, social effects, sensory profile, therapeutic and curative claims, and negatives/warnings. Relaxation/stress relief (47.4%) and happiness (43.9%) were the most commonly described psychoactive effects, and relaxation/sedation was the most common physical effect (41.6%). Many products noted sensory characteristics, such as fruity (38.1%) or sweet (31.3%) taste/smell. A significant number of retailers claimed that strains could relieve pain and depression. Reports of potential side effects or warnings were less common. Conclusion: Online cannabis retailers are making potentially unsubstantiated product claims. Future work should examine the potential for these claims to inform consumer behavior. Regulations should ensure that cannabis labeling does not mislead consumers or promote unsafe use.

AB - Background: As the purchase of cannabis becomes legalized in US states, cannabis marketing presents an unexplored regulatory landscape. Research examining other consumer products indicates marketing informs consumer product perceptions, use expectancies, and behavior. The current study examined how cannabis products are described on US cannabis retailer websites. Methods: We used the National Cannabis Industry Association website to identify 27 retailers, linked to brick-and-mortar locations in six states, who advertised cannabis flower products online, and thematically coded descriptions of each product sold (N=428). Results: Cannabis strain product descriptions fell into six categories: psychoactive effects, physical effects, social effects, sensory profile, therapeutic and curative claims, and negatives/warnings. Relaxation/stress relief (47.4%) and happiness (43.9%) were the most commonly described psychoactive effects, and relaxation/sedation was the most common physical effect (41.6%). Many products noted sensory characteristics, such as fruity (38.1%) or sweet (31.3%) taste/smell. A significant number of retailers claimed that strains could relieve pain and depression. Reports of potential side effects or warnings were less common. Conclusion: Online cannabis retailers are making potentially unsubstantiated product claims. Future work should examine the potential for these claims to inform consumer behavior. Regulations should ensure that cannabis labeling does not mislead consumers or promote unsafe use.

KW - Advertising

KW - Cannabis

KW - Marijuana

KW - Marketing

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85075747947&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85075747947&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.drugpo.2019.10.017

DO - 10.1016/j.drugpo.2019.10.017

M3 - Article

C2 - 31794923

AN - SCOPUS:85075747947

VL - 75

JO - International Journal of Drug Policy

JF - International Journal of Drug Policy

SN - 0955-3959

M1 - 102593

ER -