The study, conducted by Washington State University, found that male teens, particularly those who were on the younger side, were interested in using marijuana in the future, believing cannabis users to be more uninhibited in their sex lives.
“The messages adolescents and young adults are seeing are part of what is having impact, the type of appeal and the content, not just the fact that young people are seeing these messages on social media,” said the study’s lead author, Jessica Fitts Willoughby.
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The findings also show the impact of advertising and social media content that portrays marijuana in a positive light on adolescents as well as young adults, explained Willoughby.
Researchers surveyed two groups, one made up of around 300 participants between the ages of 15 and17 and another comprised of approximately 1,000 college-aged young adults. Groups were asked about their previous experiences with marijuana, social media usage, exposure to pro marijuana ads, their intentions to use marijuana in the future and their personal associations and assumptions between sex and marijuana.
The study found that the younger teens were the ones who believed there was a link between marijuana and good sex; the young adults weren’t swayed.
Regardless of age or gender, researchers found that participants who saw more pro-marijuana content on social media had greater intentions to use cannabis in the future.
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Researchers don’t have an explanation for these results, but most theorize that by the time teens are college-aged they likely have some sexual experience. This likely shapes their perceptions of sex and the relationship that it can have with marijuana.
When it comes to teenage women, there was no connection between positive marijuana ads and sex, though it did increase their intention to use marijuana in the future.