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Beyond the Bud: A Survey Study on Contamination Awareness, Experiences, and Perceptions among Medical Cannabis Patients

Gabriel Spandau
University of Florida

Co-Authors: Jamie Loizzo1, Nicole Stedman1, James Bunch1, Brian Pearson2
1University of Florida, 2Oregon State University

Background: The expansion of medical cannabis usage in the United States highlights the increasing importance of understanding patient perceptions and educational needs regarding these programs and products. In a recent investigation of a medical cannabis social media channel, our research team identified a prevalent concern among Florida’s medical cannabis patients regarding potential contaminants in their products. This concern is underscored by reports of various contaminants in a range of medical cannabis products available in Florida. Drawing from this preliminary social media analysis, and incorporating insights from studies on trust in social media and medication, we have designed and piloted a survey instrument.

RO1: Determine medical cannabis patient concern over contaminated medical cannabis products 
RO2: Describe medical cannabis patient perception and experience of contaminated medical cannabis products 
RO3: Determine medical cannabis patient trust and perception of current medical cannabis program regulation 
RO4: Determine medical cannabis patient knowledge of potential medical cannabis contaminants 

Methods: The survey instrument was developed by the Principal Investigator (PI) and the research team, drawing on insights from prior research conducted by our team and studies on trust in social media and medications. The PI distributed the survey to 22 medical cannabis patients and a panel of five experts with different research backgrounds related to cannabis, alcohol, public health, and policy. Following the completion and review of the survey, participants provided detailed feedback, which was subsequently analyzed by the PI to refine the survey items. Adjustments were made to the wording of questions, response options, and the inclusion of specific concepts and questions based on this feedback.

Results: The pilot testing indicated that the flow of questions was generally logical, with minor adjustments needed. The survey effectively addressed the main constructs of interest, although there was a recognized need to enhance the sections probing knowledge of potential contaminants and clarify certain response options.

Conclusion: Incorporating feedback from the pilot study and adhering to the research scope, we believe the revised survey instrument will effectively capture the targeted constructs. This tool is expected to provide valuable insights for medical cannabis researchers and inform considerations for the Florida medical cannabis program’s regulatory practices.