News Behavioral/ Mental Health

Exploring marijuana advertising on Weedmaps, a popular online directory

The legalization of marijuana has become a trend in various states across the United States. As a result of looser marijuana policies, a whole new market for recreational marijuana retailers has developed in legalized states.

A look at marijuana state policy throughout the United States, as published by the Marijuana Policy Project.

The authors of this study sought to examine the online marijuana marketing practices on Weedmaps, a popular website for retailers. Retailers are able to utilize this online platform to advertise descriptions, prices, and photographs of their products, along with the listing of discounts and other promotions.

The authors utilized a three-phase evaluation of the marketing tactics of 146 recreational marijuana retailers in Colorado and Washington who advertised on Weedmaps. They specifically examined age restrictions, health claims, and the demographics of Weedmaps followers on social media.

By assessing these advertising practices, the authors provide new insight into the marijuana industry that may be beneficial in future policy making regarding marijuana-related advertising. Specifically, their findings indicate retailers’ online advertising often emphasizes unproven health benefits without also describing known harms of use. The study also has relevance for establishing a systematic and feasible approach for investigating the online advertising practices of the new growing industry.

Read the abstract of this study published on August 17, 2016 on SpringerLink.