Monday, November 21, 2016

Chokshi's "How Much Weed Is in a Joint? Pot Experts Have a New Estimate"

Alright, stick with me. This article is about marijuana dosage and it provides good examples for how researchers go about quantifying their variables in order to properly study them. The article also highlights the importance of Subject Matter Experts in the process and how one research question can have many stakeholders.

As the title states, the main question raised by this article is "How much weed is in a joint?". Why is this so important? Researchers in medicine, addictions, developmental psychology, criminal justice, etc. are trying to determine how much pot a person is probably smoking when most drug use surveys measure marijuana use by the joint. How to use in a statistics class:

1) When you are surveying a person about their drug use, number of joints/week is a common estimate used by researchers and medical professionals. Wouldn't it be better to have actual grams of drugs as to better understand dosage? Wouldn't number of grams make for a more precise independent variable in clinical research? Such information would help us better understand what amount of marijuana should be measured by a pharmacist. What is the actual minimum dosage required to relieve symptoms? Or, maybe there are circumstances when number of joints is a reasonable form of measurement.

Why do we need to be so exacting when defining this variable? Well, if you are trying to track drug use habits, is it better to say one joint per day or give a estimate in grams? If you are trying to figure out medical dosing, is it better to measure per joint or per gram?

2) Psychometrically, how is a researcher going to go about gathering data in order to figure out the average size of a joint? In I/O psychology, you go to the Subject Matter Experts in order to test the concurrent validity of a hiring measure. Here, they describe two different studies that went straight to the SMEs . The author of the piece describe a very casual study by High Times magazine in which readers were questioned about the size of their joints. More exactingly, an article from Drug and Alcohol Dependency used a sample of individuals seeking treatment for marijuana dependency to estimate the amount of marijuana in a joint. They provided their SMEs with rolling papers and oregano and asked them to roll a joint, then assessed the content of the joint.

For class discussion: How might these two groups differ in their estimates? How might someone trying to stop using marijuana differ from someone who subscribes to a magazine for marijuana afficiandos?