Researchers studying cannabis face many challenges, including anti-cannabis stigma, restrictions that prevent them from conducting research and trouble measuring cannabis intake consistently.
That last issue is a particularly big concern. Here’s why: while one weekly cannabis user may describe themselves as a “regular cannabis user”, another weekly cannabis user may describe themselves as an “occasional cannabis user.” In short: the way we measure cannabis intake is subjective, and thus, researchers struggle to compare how much cannabis people use.
Thankfully, a team of researchers have developed a solution: the International Cannabis Toolkit (iCannToolKit). The iCannToolKit is the product of a collaboration between 25 researchers representing Europe, Australasia, North America, and South America. The researchers have vastly different fields (from epidemiology to economics), but all study cannabis. Their new toolkit will make cannabis research easier.
The iCannToolKit consists of a three-tiered pyramid that looks like this:
Each layer of the pyramid provides a way to measure cannabis intake. It includes:
- Universal measures = which includes three questions (“have you ever used cannabis?” “when did you last use cannabis?” and “in the past month, on how many days have you used cannabis?”)
- Detailed self-report measures = which are context-dependent but include more in-depth questions about cannabis use (like “how many grams of cannabis do you use daily?”)
- Biological measures = which include tests with a binary outcome (like the quantity of THC in a urine sample)
The higher the measure on the pyramid, the more it costs and the harder it is to implement.
Long-term, the iCannToolKit will radically change the world of cannabis research. As ACU’s Healthy Brain and Mind Research Centre’s Deputy Director, Dr Valentina Lorenzetti, put it:
We developed a simple tool so that anyone from any discipline – clinicians, public health experts, researchers, medical professionals, members of the public – and any part of the world, can measure cannabis use levels.
If you’d like to learn more about the iCannToolKit, read this report published in the journal Addiction.