University of Queensland (UQ) researchers have found the majority of videos featuring cannabis use on social media platform TikTok portray it in a positive light.
The team analysed 881 videos — with more than 417 million views — and discovered 54% conveyed a positive sentiment towards cannabis. Only 24 (2.7%) warned of the dangers associated with heavy use.
Co-author Dr Gary Chan, senior research fellow at UQ’s National Centre for Youth Substance Use Research, said: “We have seen an increase in the number of pro-cannabis groups that have started to pop up online.
“From the videos analysed in this research, we found a vast majority depicted cannabis use as humorous or entertaining.
“Around 42% of videos featured the creator discussing their personal cannabis use experiences and close to a quarter promoted the acceptability of using it socially or culturally.”
But lead author and PhD student Brienna Rutherford called for age restrictions or warning banners on publicly available videos depicting substance use.
She said while most of the content is created in countries where recreational cannabis use is legal, “when you’re seeing it from countries where it’s not legalised, it can influence those attitudes”.
More than one million young Australians use TikTok, according to the researchers.