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Age Differences in Self-Reported Terpenes Consideration During Cannabis Purchase

Juan Cuesta
University of Miami

Co-Authors: Bria-Necole A Diggs1, Amrit Bara1, Domenick Maglione1, Ranya Marrakchi El Fellah1, Michelle Weiner2, Shari Kaplan3, Denise C Vidot1
1University of Miami, 2Nova Southeastern University, 3Cannected Wellness

Background: Terpenes, naturally occurring volatile compounds in plants, contribute to the aroma, flavor, and colors of cannabis. Research suggests that terpenes may enhance therapeutic potency of cannabis as part of the entourage effect. Cannabis industries often use terpenes for strain differentiation, yet their role in flavor and medicinal effects remains elusive to many consumers. This study aims to estimate the prevalence of cannabis consumers by age considering terpene content when purchasing cannabis for medical purposes.

Methods: Data are from the Cannabis Users and Terpenes Study, an anonymous electronically administered survey via REDCap designed to collect self-reported data on cannabis consumption patterns, reasons for use, and consideration of terpene content in their cannabis. Descriptive statistics and chi-square tests were conducted using SAS Analytics with a two-tailed alpha set to 0.05. A post-hoc analysis compared terpene consideration and age group category determined by the distribution of sample.

Results: Of total respondents (N= 2,599), mean age was 31.1 years (SD=14.3). More than half consumed cannabis for medicinal purposes (63.2%, N=1288), of which 55.8% purchased with a medical card while 44.2% self-medicated without a medical card. Almost half of participants (41.8%) did not consider the terpenes content when purchasing cannabis products, compared to 36.0% that did and 22.2% considered sometimes only. A significant association was found between age and considering terpenes when purchasing cannabis (p=0.01). There was a difference by age group in consideration of terpenes during cannabis purchase (44.2% of 18-to-35-year-olds, 42.3% of 36-to-52-year-olds, 37.5% of 53-to-69-year-olds, and 46.7% of respondents over 70 years of age). Among respondents considering terpene content when purchasing cannabis, 78.9% use terpenes for flavor, 67.8% for medical benefits, 70.4% to enhance their high, and 61.5% for a more natural high.

Conclusions: Participants over 35 years of age tend to factor terpenes into their cannabis purchases more often. Notably, a larger proportion of cannabis consumers used terpenes for their flavor and to enhance their high. Future research and age-appropriate education is required to address the needs of cannabis consumers regarding terpenes and their health advantages.