The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA

5082.0: Wednesday, November 13, 2002 - Table 5

Abstract #43705

Newspaper coverage of glaucoma and medical marijuana

Alec Ulasevich, PhD and Margarette Johnson. Research and Evaluation, Prospect Center/AIR, 10720 Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20901, 301-592-2156,

News media is identified as a powerful force in shaping both public and legislative agendas as well an important source of public health information. Understanding of how news media covers a particular public health issues allows public health practioners both to use media to disseminate information and to anticipate misinformation about public health issues. The present research analyzed the newspaper coverage of claims of medical marijuana as beneficial to treatment of glaucoma. The last five years of the Lexis-Nexis newspaper database was searched using key words “glaucoma” and “marijuana.” Each article was coded in terms of the themes or frames that characterized either pro-legalization or anti-legalization positions. In general, glaucoma was mentioned with cancer and HIV infections as conditions for which marijuana may have a therapeutic effect. In these articles, the pro-legalization arguments typically relied on personal testimonials or observational studies and were often framed as proverbial "little guys" fighting entrenched legal, medical or scientific establishments. The anti-legalization arguments typically cited lack of scientific proof, availability of proven medicines and legal barriers. Socially conservative groups were also cited arguing that marijuana is a dangerous intoxicant. However, articles that focused specifically on glaucoma were likely to cite scientific findings noted that large dosages of marijuana are necessary to achieve a minimal therapeutic effect. The findings of this media analysis are discussed in terms of persuasiveness and appeal of pro-legalization and anti-legalization arguments reported by the press

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Media, Marijuana

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

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The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA