UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Keeping up with the times: how national public health and governmental organizations communicate about cannabis on Twitter van Draanen, Jenna; Krishna, Tanvi; Tsang, Christie; Liu, Sam


Background: Public health and governmental organizations are expected to provide guidance to the public on emerging health issues in accessible formats. It is, therefore, important to examine how such organizations are discussing cannabis online and the information that is being provided to the public about this increasingly legal and available substance. Methods: This paper presents a concise thematic analysis of both the volume and content of cannabis-related health information from selected (n = 13) national-level public health and governmental organizations in Canada and the U.S. on Twitter. Results: There were eight themes identified in Tweets including 1) health-related topics; 2) legalization and legislation; 3) research on cannabis; 4) special populations; 5) driving and cannabis; 6) population issues; 7) medical cannabis, and 8) public health issues. The majority of cannabis-related Tweets from the organizations studied came from relatively few organizations and there were substantial differences between the topics covered by U.S. and Canadian organizations. The organizations studied provided limited information regarding how to use cannabis in ways that will minimize health-related harms. Conclusions: Authoritative organizations that deal with public health may consider designing timely social media communications with emerging cannabis-related information, to benefit a general public otherwise exposed to primarily pro-cannabis content on Twitter.

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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)