Beware: Researchers To Begin Tracking Stoners Online

With a little funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the researchers in the Center for Interventions, Treatment, and Addictions Research and the Ohio Center of Excellence in Knowledge-enabled Computing at Wright State University are currently running a study called Trending: Social media analysis to monitor cannabis and synthetic cannabinoid use. They are developing a software platform called eDrugTrends to monitor and analyze trends in cannabis use on Twitter and web forums.

It started with a funding opportunity announcement by NIDA, NIDA RFA-CA-14-008. One of the proposed research areas was “observational research exploring the nature and extent of social media interactions that may inform understanding of the epidemiology, risk factors, attitudes, and behaviors” associated with drug use, with “monitor social media trends to understand the effects of changing federal, state, or local laws, regulations and policies on ATOD with a special interest in cannabis use” as a good example for such a project.

eDrugTrends is designed to identify trends in cannabinoid and synthetic cannabinoid use across regions of the US with different local laws using Twitter and web forums. It will also attempt to “identify key influencers” in conversations on Twitter.

They want eDrugTrends to “have high public health impact by providing a tool that can be used to inform more timely interventions and policy responses to changes in cannabis and synthetic cannabinoid use and associated harms.”

Research money and research grade cannabis has been wasted on “proving” that cannabis has an addictive potential, studying its “withdrawal symptoms,” and into developing a drug to treat those symptoms. They’ve gone as far as to say cannabis is as addictive as tobacco, and calling nation-wide cannabis use an “epidemic.” eDrugTrends is part of a strong trend in federal agencies and the pharmaceutical industry that seeks to find out who the pot-smokers are, brand them as drug addicts and sell them prescription drugs for their “withdrawal symptoms.”

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