Seeing is believing: How cannabis marketing exposure is associated with cannabis use attitudes and behavior in a permissive medical cannabis policy environment

Background and objectives:

Oklahoma has a fast-growing medical cannabis industry, showing a proliferation of industry marketing. While cannabis marketing exposure (CME) is a risk factor for cannabis use and positive attitudes about use, no studies have examined the impact of CME on attitudes and use behavior in a permissive cannabis policy environment, like Oklahoma.


N = 5428 Oklahoma adults ages 18 and older completed assessments of demographics, past 30-day cannabis use, and past 30-day exposure to each of four types of cannabis marketing: outdoor (billboards, signs), social media, print (magazines), and Internet. Regression models examined associations of CME with positive attitudes towards cannabis use, cannabis harm perceptions, interest in obtaining a medical cannabis license (among nonlicensed participants), and past 30-day cannabis use.


Three quarters (74.5%) reported any past 30-day CME. Outdoor CME was most prevalent (61.1%), followed by social media (46.5%), Internet (46.1%), and print (35.2%). Correlates of CME included younger age, higher educational attainment and income, and medical cannabis license. In adjusted regression models, past 30-day CME and number of sources of CME were associated with current cannabis use behavior, positive attitudes about cannabis, lower cannabis harm perceptions, and greater interest in obtaining a medical cannabis license. Similar associations between CME and positive attitudes about cannabis were shown among noncannabis users.

Discussion and conclusions:

Public health messaging should be employed to minimize the potential adverse impacts of CME.

Scientific significance:

No studies have examined correlates of CME in a rapidly growing and relatively unrestrained marketing environment.

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