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STEVE ELLIOTT

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It’s another example of “They needed a scientific study to figure that out?” Displaying a keen grasp of the obvious, a scientific team “discovered” that teens who listen to music containing references to marijuana are more likely to use the herb than their counterparts with less exposure to such lyrics.

The 2009 study, performed at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, is online in the journal Addiction.

“Based on an analysis of survey data from 959 ninth-graders, we found that students who listen to music with the most references to marijuana are almost twice as likely to have used the drug than their peers whose musical tastes favor songs less focused on substance use, even after controlling for confounding factors,” said Brian Primack, M.D., Ed.M., M.S. (Damn, with all those letters after his name, he must be right.)

Dr. Brian Primack: "...it may also be that those who smoke marijuana seek out music with lyrics related to marijuana." Bingo!
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Dr. Brian Primack: “…it may also be that those who smoke marijuana seek out music with lyrics related to marijuana.” Bingo!

“Interestingly, we also found that exposure to marijuana in music was not associated with other high-risk behaviors, such as excessive alcohol consumption,” said Primack, lead author of the study and assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at Pitt’s School of Medicine. “This suggests that there is a real link between the marijuana lyrics and marijuana use,” Dr. Primack said.

Hmm… Well, what it suggests to me is that there are two types of partying teenagers: the drunks and the stoners. It suggests that the stoners have their own music and culture, which is distinct from the music and culture of the drunks.

It suggests that there’s nothing unusual about any culture sharing its music and its worldviews, and that in a free marketplace of ideas, people — even young people — tend to seek out the ideas and cultures which suit them best.

To accurately estimate “marijuana exposure” in music, researchers used an “improved process” to calculate the exposure, which incorporated student reports of music exposure and favorite artists as well as “intensive content analysis” of the top 794 songs from 2005, 2006 and 2007 based on Billboard magazine’s year-end charts.

Researchers estimated that the average study participant listened to 21.8 hours of music per week and were exposed to an estimated 40 marijuana references in music per day.

Electric Wizard's Dopethrone [2000]: "Highly" recommended [Rotten Young Earth]
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Electric Wizard’s Dopethrone [2000]: “Highly” recommended
[Rotten Young Earth]

Let’s see, that’s cramming 40 mentions of pot into a three hours a day. That works out to cannabis being mentioned every 4.5 minutes, or in almost every song. Are these kids really listening to nothing but pot songs? Pity they didn’t list those “favorite artists”; I need to hear more of this stuff.

​Twelve percent of the students identified themselves as current marijuana users, with 32 percent identifying themselves as having previously tried the substance. Compared to those who cited a favorite artist with zero songs of cannabis references, students who identified a favorite artist with three or more songs with cannabis references had nearly double the odds of being current cannabis users.

Wait, you mean stoners are listening to Snoop Dogg, Pink Floyd, Cypress Hill, Grateful Dead, Bob Marley and Black Sabbath? Who knew?

Researchers say they controlled for such demographic variables as age, race, gender, parental education and school grades in analyzing the data.

“Although it may be that heavy exposure to music about marijuana causes marijuana smoking, it may also be that those who smoke marijuana seek out music with lyrics related to marijuana,” noted Dr. Primack.

Gee, you think? How much did this study cost, exactly?

“In either case,” Dr. Primack tells us, “these results may help us develop more effective programs on drug education. For example, media literacy programs may help young people more accurately analyze and evaluate the marijuana-related messages they are likely to hear in popular music.”

Co-authors of the study are Erika L. Douglas and Kevin L. Kraemer, both of the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Primack is supported with funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Maurice Falk Foundation.

 

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