Are researchers getting the terms used to denote different types of recreational cannabis right?-a user perspective
Background: While current cannabis research has advanced our understanding into the effects of its individual components, there is a pressing need to identify simple terminology that is understood in the same way by researchers and users of cannabis. Current categorisation in research focuses on the two main cannabinoids: delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD); and two different species of cannabis: indica and sativa. Recreational cannabis has also been categorised by researchers as ‘skunk’ or ‘hash’. Focusing on individuals who use cannabis frequently, this study aimed to identify views on current terms used to denote different types of cannabis and to identify terms validated by participants. These views were extracted from responses of the Cannabis Experiences Questionnaire (CEQ), a widely used instrument in the literature.
Methods: We qualitatively analysed 236 free-text responses from Question 23 of the CEQ survey (using Iterative Categorisation) relating to categorization and consumption methods. Data was used from a previous study (Sami et al., Psychol Med 49:103-12, 2019), which recruited a convenience sample of 1231 participants aged 18 years and above who had previously used cannabis.
Results: Regarding type of cannabis used, specific strain names (n = 130), concentrates (n = 37), indica/sativa (n = 22) and THC/CBD terms (n = 22) were mentioned. Other terms used were hybrids (n = 10), origins of specific strains (n = 17), edibles (n = 8), and herbal cannabis (n = 7). Regarding problems with specific terms, participants were skeptical about terms such as skunk and super skunk (n = 78) preferring terms like THC/CBD, indica/sativa, specific marketed strains and references to preparation methods.
Conclusions: The results suggest a disparity between the common terms used by researchers in academia and those used by cannabis consumers. While there are advantages and limitations of using these terms to bridge views of researchers and individuals who use cannabis, this study underscores the importance of formally assessing chemical constituents rather than relying on self-report data and of incorporating cannabis user views on current terms used in research, potentially also incorporating descriptors of preparation and consumption methods.
Keywords: Cannabis; Cannabis terms; Skunk; Cannabis users; Iterative categorisation.