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R/THCO: A Rapid Netnographic Examination of THC-OAcetate

Carlton Bone
Portland State University

Co-authors: Upward Hemp Kitchen, LLC

The use of rapid online ethnographic assessment represents a novel exploration into the growing phenomenon of semi-synthetic cannabinoids. This research outlines the emergence of an online community dedicated to the consumption and distribution of the substance, THC-OAcetate.

The role of prosumers of these products as mediators of knowledge and substances is explored, to contextualize the nature of the broader growth of semi-synthetic cannabinoid markets. Observations about the perceived safety and potency of these substances are noted in the context of the overarching regulatory landscape in which these substances are emerging, with implications for their regulation discussed in the conclusion.

While the use of rapid ethnographic methodologies has been explored in design processes [Heinonen and Medberg 2018] and medical settings [Ackerman et al 2015], the utilization of online field sites and social media networks as subject communities reflect the more integrated technological approach known as netnography [Kozinets 2010]. As rapid ethnographic engagement is usually limited temporally, the utilization of digital networks of information and community allows for a more elaborate picture, especially when combined with other methods of “Time Deepening” [Millen 2000].

An important distinction between more traditional ethnography and the methods utilized for this research is that the researcher did not use data collected from personal engagements, interviews, or focus groups in order to avoid ethical complications that may arise from the author’s own embedded position as a cannabis industry stakeholder. The remainder of this section will explain the motivations behind site choice, and the background of the community is explored.

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