UC San Diego Scientists Push For Regulations On Marijuana Advertising

A pile of dried cannabis buds is seen here, Aug. 31, 2017.

As the marijuana industry grows, so do marketing claims of health benefits from cannabis use. Now researchers at UC San Diego are warning against marijuana advertisements that boast health benefits, saying the claims are problematic and need to be independently verified.

In a recent column in the Journal of the American Medical Association, John Ayers, Ph.D. a computational epidemiologist at UC San Diego, calls on government agencies to regulate the branding practices of cannabis retailers. In the column, Ayers referenced the national marijuana brand, MedMen, which has locations in San Diego.

Health and medicine are implied in the name of this company, even though a majority of MedMen’s stores sell recreational marijuana. Billboards read, “Heal. It’s Legal.”

The company’s blog Ember: A Journal of Cannabis and Culture has an entire section dedicated to health, including a claim that marijuana 'can reduce anxiety, pain, and so much more,'" Ayers wrote. "The only health warnings included on the MedMen website are 'marijuana products impairs your ability to drive and operate machinery' and that MedMen 'can not guarantee the accuracy of any marijuana information provided' on its website."

"These claims are reckless because there's no substantial evidence showing that marijuana has any therapeutic benefit," Ayers said.

He joined Midday Edition Thursday to talk about why he thinks marketing regulation is an urgent priority.

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Theodore L. Caputi
Theodore L. Caputi
Economics & Health Researcher

My research interests include public health, health innovation, and health care.