Cannabis Mobile Apps: A Content Analysis

  • Ramo D
  • Popova L
  • Grana R
  • et al.
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Abstract

Background: Mobile technology is pervasive and widely used to obtain information about drugs such as cannabis, especially in a climate of rapidly changing cannabis policy; yet the content of available cannabis apps is largely unknown. Understanding the resources available to those searching for cannabis apps will clarify how this technology is being used to reflect and influence cannabis use behavior. Objective: We investigated the content of 59 cannabis-related mobile apps for Apple and Android devices as of November 26, 2014. Methods: The Apple and Google Play app stores were searched using the terms “cannabis” and “marijuana.” Three trained coders classified the top 20 apps for each term and each store, using a coding guide. Apps were examined for the presence of 20 content codes derived by the researchers. Results: Total apps available for each search term were 124 for cannabis and 218 for marijuana in the Apple App Store, and 250 each for cannabis and marijuana on Google Play. The top 20 apps in each category in each store were coded for 59 independent apps (30 Apple, 29 Google Play). The three most common content areas were cannabis strain classification (33.9%), facts about cannabis (20.3%), and games (20.3%). In the Apple App Store, most apps were free (77%), all were rated “17+” years, and the average user rating was 3.9/5 stars. The most popular apps provided cannabis strain classifications (50%), dispensary information (27%), or general facts about cannabis (27%). Only one app (3%) provided information or resources related to cannabis abuse, addiction, or treatment. On Google Play, most apps were free (93%), rated “high maturity” (79%), and the average user rating was 4.1/5. The most popular app types offered games (28%), phone utilities (eg, wallpaper, clock; 21%) and cannabis food recipes (21%); no apps addressed abuse, addiction, or treatment. Conclusions: Cannabis apps are generally free and highly rated. Apps were most often informational (facts, strain classification), or recreational (games), likely reflecting and influencing the growing acceptance of cannabis for medical and recreational purposes. Apps addressing addiction or cessation were underrepresented in the most popular cannabis mobile apps. Differences among apps for Apple and Android platforms likely reflect differences in the population of users, developer choice, and platform regulations. [JMIR Mhealth Uhealth 2015;3(3):e81]

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APA

Ramo, D. E., Popova, L., Grana, R., Zhao, S., & Chavez, K. (2015). Cannabis Mobile Apps: A Content Analysis. JMIR MHealth and UHealth, 3(3), e81. https://doi.org/10.2196/mhealth.4405

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