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Medical cannabis contaminates concerns: A qualitative content analysis of Reddit posts

Gabriel Spandau
University of Florida

Co-Authors: Jamie Loizzo1, Hannah Fechtel1, Brian Pearson1, James Charles Bunch1, Nicole Stedman1
1University of Florida

An online Reddit community, FLmedicaltrees, began in 2017 as a space for Florida medical cannabis patients to discuss laws, doctors, treatment, and products. The community has more than 54,000 members and several daily posts. Contaminated medical cannabis product is a hot button issue within FLmedicaltrees. The researchers used qualitative content analysis methods to examine patients’ posts about contaminated cannabis products.

Research Questions

  • What are medical cannabis patients\’ experiences with contaminated products?
  • What are patients’ knowledge levels of contaminates found in medical cannabis products?
  • What are patients’ feelings towards the current state of the medical cannabis program in Florida?
  • What changes do patients want to see made to the Florida medical cannabis program?

The lead researcher used specific key words (mold, contaminate, fiber) to identify and collect 300 contaminant-related posts from date ranges 06/01/2022-06/04/2022. All posts that appeared during the search were pulled for review. The lead researcher screened posts for relevancy to the contamination research questions, excluding 202 and leaving a final sample of posts (n = 98). The three lead researchers then developed a coding framework that included deductive codes such as contamination concern, information seeking, providing information and added inductive codes as they emerged. The lead researcher was the primary coder for this study, coding all 98 posts and used constant comparison to maintain validity. Second and third researchers reviewed 20% of the coded posts and confirmed coding accuracy. After initial coding, codes were grouped into overlapping categories, and categories became themes.

Preliminary results include the following themes: 1) Patients experience multiple forms of contamination throughout different products purchased from medical cannabis dispensaries, 2) Patient knowledge level of contaminates appears to be low and this community is used to help find answers and second opinions, 3) Some patients expressed feelings of anxiety and worry about health, safety, and quality control, while others had a lack of concern, 4) Patients want changes regarding vertical integration, company accountability, state oversight, and home grow law.

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