Quebec public health experts warn that several promotions of non-medical cannabis visible on the Web by Quebecers can encourage its consumption.
The National Institute of Public Health (INSPQ) believes that these practices should be of concern to public health actors as cannabis consumption observed in Quebec and Canada has been increasing since 2018.
The analysis published by the INSPQ focused on the content published online by 55 players in the cannabis industry and in nearly 2,800 publications distributed on social networks, including those of the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC). Among other things, it reveals the existence of price promotions, associations between cannabis use and health benefits, and the display of characteristics attractive to young people.
The INSPQ believes that promotions often contain elements that may be attractive to young people and may give the impression that the product is less dangerous than it actually is.
Among social media posts, 80% include content specifically prohibited by law, such as the presence of people or associations of cannabis use to a lifestyle. And almost 60% of these publications contain elements that can encourage consumption, such as stylized packaging.
Associations between cannabis and aspects of everyday life are common. Cannabis is often presented as an essential component of the morning routine in the same way as coffee, for example. It is often made into an object of consumption to be integrated into the practice of sports or leisure activities.
The analysis also reveals that online content often includes elements associated with the nature or mention of natural or biological properties of cannabis. Cannabis is also often linked to feelings of relaxation or well-being, which may suggest that it is safe or less harmful than the use of alcohol or tobacco, particularly among young people.
On the other hand, edibles and liquid cannabis vaping extracts are promoted, while they may appeal to uninitiated audiences, among others. The INSPQ reports that these products are increasingly consumed, since they are attractive to young people and perceived as harmless.
The National Institute of Public Health has observed that the online promotion of other substances such as tobacco and alcohol is a factor associated with the increase in their consumption by the population. He therefore believes that cannabis promotions may have contributed to the increase in consumption observed in Quebec and Canada over the past five years.