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How Reddit’s r/trees Helped Scientists Make Marijuana Discoveries

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Reddit users subscribed to a popular marijuana forum are helping researchers identify trends and patterns in cannabis consumption.

A new peer-reviewed study, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, analyzed more than two million posts found on the site’s largest marijuana-related subreddit from 2010 to 2016. The research team made a series of discoveries, including a few that might seem obvious to regular consumers (e.g. dabbing is gaining in popularity, but users still largely favor smoking cannabis flower).

Nonetheless, the study contributes unique insights to the growing body of international cannabis research. Among research team’s key takeaways was just how high the average “ent” gets on five different forms of cannabis.

(Although researchers didn’t specify which subreddit the study examined, their description in the paper leaves little room for doubt that it was r/trees, where enthusiasts refer to themselves as “ents,” an homage to the tree-resembling Lord of the Rings characters; trees is a common slang term for cannabis.)

How high do Reddit users get on average from smoking, vaping, dabbing, taking edibles or using butane hash oils (BHO) like shatter?

Researchers sought to answer that question by looking for keywords and tracking the subreddit’s 1-10 “user-reported subjective highness” rating system. Though it’s admittedly not scientific, a redditor reporting a [2] would generally be considered to have a light buzz, whereas a [10] signifies a very potent experience.

Here is the average r/trees high for five forms of cannabis, on a scale of 1-10:

  • Smoking: [6.8]
  • Vaping: [6.7]
  • Edibles: [7.2]
  • Dabbing: [7.8]
  • Butane hash oil: [7.2]

So in terms of intensity of a high, the crowdsourced data puts dabbing at the top—which isn’t especially surprising since dabbing typically involves heating up and inhaling concentrated, high-THC cannabis extracts. Vaping appears to produce the least intense high on average.

(For the record, the researchers distinguished between dabbing and BHO products, which are commonly used to dab, because of differences in terminology; one is a method, the other refers to products.)

Of course, more people are getting into dabbing as more states have legalized marijuana in some form, giving many users a greater product selection. Dabbing also may be increasingly attractive, the study authors wrote, because “it requires fewer ‘hits’ and produces stronger effects.”

The new study of Reddit posts also examined adverse effects of cannabis consumption, such as anxiety, coughing, nausea, vomiting and memory problems.

In general, the researchers found that “very few adverse effects were reported,” and the study showed that “there were no statistically significant differences in adverse effect term occurrence across products,” based on the subreddit post analysis.

But since r/trees is an online community that generally celebrates cannabis and promotes legalization of the plant, it’s not entirely surprising that there weren’t a large number of posts focusing on potential negative affects of marijuana.

Accordingly, researchers also examined other keywords frequently included in Reddit posts, and found evidence that first-time cannabis consumers seek out r/trees and its resident ents as a source of good information about how to have a fun and safe experience.

“The frequent occurrence of the word ‘first’ for vaping, dabbing, and edibles indicate that many posters are using or considering using for the first time,” they wrote. “With diverging medical and scientific opinions regarding the efficacy and safety of cannabis use, new and experienced cannabis users may be seeking out peer-generated information in online communities and social media about these newer forms of use.”

Why this study matters

“Analysis of social media data has been used to complement other epidemiologic methods as a strategy for understanding emerging trends in real time with limited social desirability or recall bias,” the study authors noted. “Despite the limited ability to determine the representativeness of creators of social media content and thus inform generalizability, social media data analysis can uncover behaviors not captured in traditional surveillance and inform terminology and emerging behaviors that larger scale health surveys may wish to incorporate.”

And that’s exactly what this study did—leverage data from a unique and popular social media site to paint a different kind of informative picture of the emerging marijuana landscape.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Los Angeles-based associate editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

Culture

How Marijuana Ruined Ronald Reagan’s Valentine’s Day

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It was 38 years ago that marijuana soured an otherwise lovely Valentine’s Day for President Ronald Reagan.

What started as a serene evening—spent swapping gifts and kisses with his wife, Nancy—quickly devolved into a nightmare when the two settled in to watch the comedy film “9 to 5” starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton.

The movie was “funny,” Reagan wrote in a diary entry on February 14, 1981. But “one scene made me mad,” he steamed.

“A truly funny scene if the 3 gals had played getting drunk but no they had to get stoned on pot,” the Gipper, clearly more of a sipper than a toker, wrote.

“It was an endorsement of Pot smoking for any young person who sees the picture.”

lily tomlin Nine to Five GIF

Reagan had made his views on cannabis clear earlier, during his 1980 campaign, when he said marijuana was “probably the most dangerous drug in the United States.”

His wife later took up that torch and led the “Just Say No” campaign, which discouraged young people from experimenting with drugs by promoting sensationalized depictions of their effects.

And while that Valentine’s Day in 1981 was spoiled by the giggling trio of ladies smoking Maui Wowie in “9 to 5,” the Reagans went on to enjoy many more holidays together in drug-free matrimony.

Maury Povich Smoked A Marijuana Strain Named After His Wife, Journalist Connie Chung

Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Maury Povich Smoked A Marijuana Strain Named After His Wife, Journalist Connie Chung

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Maury Povich, host of one of America’s most popular and longest-running daytime TV talk shows, said on Thursday that he doesn’t regularly roll blunts at home, but he has smoked a marijuana strain named after his wife, the journalist Connie Chung.

Povich, in an appearance on the radio program Sway’s Universe, said that his spouse first heard about the Chung-branded cannabis variety from comedian Lewis Black, who was “doing a story on various marijuana as they became legal, I think, in the state of Washington.”

“Lewis called up my wife and said, ‘Connie, do you know that there is a strain of grass called the Connie Chung?'” Povich recounted. “You know we had to try that.”

So the couple traveled to Washington and indulged for themselves.

“It’s so legal, it’s like nothing.”

Also in the radio interview, Povich implied that smoking cannabis as a substitute makes it easier to smoke fewer cigarettes, which he eventually quit. And he talked about how he knew “a lot of athletes over the years” who used cannabis medicinally, and questioned why sports leagues don’t allow players to consume marijuana.

Chung herself got a kick out of her namesake strain and even gifted a sample of it to Andy Cohen on an episode of his Watch What Happens Live show last year.

“I’m very easy to grow, I require less attention and care, and I give good yield,” Chung said. “I’m perfect for daytime use when facing deadlines, need to be alert and imaginative.”

Mike Tyson And Joe Rogan Swap Stories About Psychedelics And Marijuana

Photo courtesy of Sway’s Universe.

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Mike Tyson And Joe Rogan Swap Stories About Psychedelics And Marijuana

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Former boxer Mike Tyson had a mind-blowing discussion with Joe Rogan about tripping on psychedelics and smoking marijuana on Thursday.

“I like who I am when I smoke. You know what I mean?” Tyson said in an appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. “Without weed I don’t like who I am sometimes. That’s just real.”

Rogan agreed.

“It makes me nicer,” he said. “It calms me down.”

Check out the video of Mike Tyson and Joe Rogan discussing drugs below:

Beyond cannabis, the two discussed using 5-MeO-DMT, a tryptamine that is found in the venom of a certain toad species, among other places in nature.

“I smoked this medicine—drug—whatever you want to call it, and I’ve never been the same,” Tyson said. “I look at life differently. I look at people differently.”

“The experience I can’t even express, really. Almost like dying and being reborn.”

Rogan said he had similar experiences with the drug.

“That’s what it felt like to me, too,” he said. “You stop existing.”

“It’s inconceivable,” Tyson added. “I just don’t have the words to explain it.”

Tyson, who is now an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry and has his own marijuana-focused podcast, said he’s been smoking weed since he was 10 years old.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Talks Marijuana And Psychedelics With Joe Rogan

Photo courtesy of Joe Rogan Experience.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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