Perceptions of cannabis health information labels among people who use cannabis in the U.S. and Canada

Adam R. Winstock, Michael T. Lynskey, Larissa J. Maier, Jason A. Ferris, Emma L. Davies*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The emergence of legal cannabis industries poses a new public health challenge. Health information labels are part of the public health strategy for tobacco and alcohol, but there is limited research on cannabis-related messaging. This study explored perceptions of cannabis health information labels among people who used cannabis in the last 12 months residing in the U.S. and Canada. Methods: The Global Drug Survey (GDS) is a large anonymous cross-sectional web-survey. In GDS2019, respondents were presented with six labels with cannabis-related health information (dependence; driving stoned; harms of smoking; harms to developing brain; lack of motivation; effects on memory), and asked if information was new, believed, would it change behavior, and about acceptability of having health labels on legal products. This paper includes 1,275 respondents from Canada and 2,224 from U.S. states where cannabis was legal at the time of the survey, and 5,230 from other U.S. states. Results: Few respondents said that the information was new (6.6-24.6%). Most said the information was believable (63.5-72.0%) other than for the dependence message (28.1% new, 56.8% believed), which was perceived to be the least likely to change behavior (10.2%). Driving stoned was the message perceived to be the most likely to change behavior (58.5%). Respondents living in Canada were less likely to say information was new and rated most messages more believable than those in the U.S. Respondents from legal U.S. states were less likely to say information was new compared to other states. Respondents who used cannabis daily rated acceptability of labels lower (27.8%) than those using 1-48 days (40.6%). Conclusions: Novel, believable information may be more effective at changing behavior. Regular consumers may be less susceptible to messages. Information focusing on safer use strategies and benefits of reducing use may be more acceptable and should be assessed in future research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102789
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2020


  • Cannabis
  • cannabis industry
  • health information labels


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