Category: Addictive Behaviors
Recreational marijuana use is becoming legal in more States in America. Researchers need to improve our assessments of marijuana use to address some significant gaps in our methods. Most of the research on marijuana adopted many of the methods used in alcohol research, wherein 12 ounces of 5% ABV beer is equivalent to 5 ounces of wine is equivalent to 1.5 ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits. However, potency of marijuana varies widely by strain, method of administration, and crop. Researchers typically measure marijuana use be having participants self-report the number use episodes over some period of time (e.g., number of times or the number of days in the last 30 marijuana was used). They do not typically measure how the marijuana was ingested (e.g., smoked, digested, vaporized, dabbed) nor do they collect information on the potency of the marijuana being ingested. As such, researchers have no idea how much marijuana is actually being consumed nor the potency of that marijuana. This is problematic as it does not allow for accurate prediction of the intoxicating effects of marijuana use. One of the advantages of legalization is increased regulation of the retail market, including standardization of marijuana dose and amounts of marijuana, as well as requirements on reporting potency and strain-type. The research presented herein, with ongoing data collection, is designed to address gaps in our measurement, and thus our knowledge, of marijuana methods of administration, potency, and accuracy in self-reported amounts of marijuana being used. The research will lead to the development of new scales to measure these aspects of marijuana use by both self-report and behavioral task. This includes the development of new scales to measure both negative and positive consequences of marijuana use and to assess the use of protective behavioral strategies to control the intoxicating effects of marijuana. Data are being collected comparing the impact of methods of administration on positive and negative consequences experienced because of marijuana use and how using protective behavioral strategies is impacted by routes of administration. The psychometric properties of these new scales are being assessed in samples of college students and samples of consumers of marijuana at both marijuana dispensaries and in marijuana social spaces. It is hypothesized that the research will allow for the development of more psychometrically sound measurement of marijuana use, methods of administration, consequences, and protective behavioral strategies. This will allow for more accurate measurement of the impact of marijuana use on intoxication, consequences, and the development of cannabis use disorder. To date we have collected data from 500 individuals. We plan to collected data from another 400 individuals from the community samples in the next 3 months. All of this data will be presented with discussion of the impact of the new assessment tools on marijuana research.