Watching Social Media for Cannabis Use

big-brotherUnder a grant from NIDA, Wright State University is going to develop software that will allow someone to monitor social media for Cannabis use and more.

According to the Description they explain that “Cannabis remains one of the most commonly used psychoactive substances in the U.S., and current changes in legalization policy indicate broadening acceptability. At the same time, substance abusers have sought similar, or more enhanced highs, through use of synthetic cannabinoids, new designer drugs with constantly changing chemical formulations that have been linked to adverse health effects and present significant challenges to public health.”

Remarkably it’s clear that NIDA assumes that Cannabis legalization leads to other drug use when so many studies in states that have legal cannabis shows the opposite.  Despite this apparently NIDA is determined to stay on top of this and maybe other things with the development of the software they are funding research into.

With it’s $461,000 funding from NIDA they purpose to  “Develop a comprehensive software platform, eDrugTrends, for semi-automated processing and visualization of thematic, sentiment, spatio-temporal, and social network dimensions of social media data (Twitter and Web forums) on cannabis and synthetic Cannabinoid use.”

Once the software is developed it’s very easy to put in whatever you want to have found out.  This could have chilling effects on all sorts of issues.  You will note that they want to use this software to Identify Key Influencers and explain them to be “Opinion Leaders”

Then they plan to “Deploy eDrugTrends to: a) Identify and compare trends in knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to cannabis and synthetic Cannabinoid use across U.S. regions with different cannabis legalization policies using Twitter and Web forum data. b) Analyze social network characteristics and identify key influencers (opinions leaders) in cannabis and synthetic cannabinoid-related discussions on Twitter.”

heat1Once deployed there will be no stopping this invasion into cyberspace of basically a search engine that monitors and gives visualization of what is trending.

The development of eDrugTrends will advance the field’s technological and methodological capabilities, and our deployment of the platform will inform the field on new trends regarding the use of cannabis, synthetic cannabinoids and other drugs. eDrugTrends will have high public health impact by providing a tool that can be used to inform more timely interventions and policy responses to changes in cannabis and synthetic Cannabinoid use and associated harms.”


They have already deployed the software and articles are appearing like the following in PubMed

“Those edibles hit hard”: Exploration of Twitter data on cannabis edibles in the U.S.

“Our findings suggest that Twitter data analysis is an important tool for epidemiological monitoring of emerging drug use practices and trends.”
“Although the majority of tweets conveyed positive attitudes about cannabis edibles, analysis of experiences expressed in negative tweets confirms the potential adverse effects of edibles and calls for educating edibles-naïve users, improving edibles labeling, and testing their THC content.”