“Retweet to Pass the Blunt”: Analyzing Geographic and Content Features of Cannabis-Related Tweeting Across the United States

Raminta Daniulaityte, Francois R. Lamy, G. Alan Smith, Ramzi W. Nahhas, Robert G. Carlson, Krishnaprasad Thirunarayan, Silvia S. Martins, Edward W. Boyer, Amit Sheth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Twitter data offer new possibilities for tracking health-related communications. This study is among the first to apply advanced information processing to identify geographic and content features of cannabis-related tweeting in the United States. Method: Tweets were collected using streaming Application Programming Interface (March–May 2016) and were processed by eDrugTrends to identify geo-location and classify content by source (personal communication, media, retail) and sentiment (positive, negative, neutral). States were grouped by cannabis legalization policies into “recreational,” “medical, less restric-tive,” “medical, more restrictive,” and “illegal.” Permutation tests were performed to analyze differences among four groups in adjusted percentages of all tweets, unique users, personal communications only, and positive-to-negative sentiment ratios. Results: About 30% of all 13,233,837 cannabis-related tweets had identifiable state-level geo-information. Among geolocated tweets, 76.2% were personal communications, 21.1% media, and 2.7% retail. About 71% of personal communication tweets expressed positive sentiment toward cannabis; 16% expressed negative sentiment. States in the recreational group had significantly greater average adjusted percentage of cannabis tweets (3.01%) compared with other groups. For personal communication tweets only, the recreational group (2.47%) was significantly greater than the medical, more restrictive (1.84%) and illegal (1.85%) groups. Similarly, the recreational group had significantly greater average positive-to-negative sentiment ratio (4.64) compared with the medical, more restrictive (4.15) and illegal (4.19) groups. Average adjusted percentages of unique users showed similar differences between recreational and other groups. Conclusions: States with less restrictive policies displayed greater cannabis-related tweeting and conveyed more positive sentiment. The study demonstrates the potential of Twitter data to become a valuable indicator of drug-related communications in the context of varying policy environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)910-915
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of studies on alcohol and drugs
Volume78
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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