The Role of Cannabis-Related Drug Cues on Behavioral Economic Demand

By Brandon Miller, 2022 awardee of an Innovative Student Research – Master’s Thesis Grant

Brandon Miller is a doctoral student in Michael Amlung’s behavioral economics and addiction neuroscience lab at the University of Kansas. His primary research interests involve common behavioral processes and contextual factors that influence consumption of psychoactive drugs. His research uses behavioral economics and behavior analysis to examine manipulatable factors that alter preference for drugs. An additional interest of his is in the applications of behavior analysis to behaviors observed in populations typically served by other human service fields, like clinical psychology.

This SABA grant will support his master’s thesis research study, which will be examining the role of cannabis-related drug cues on behavioral economic demand for cannabis and evaluating the effect of drug use context on cannabis demand. Although several studies have examined changes in demand as a function of cue exposure in the context of alcohol and tobacco, few studies to date have examined this question with cannabis. Likewise, although many studies have established that certain contexts affect alcohol demand—such as the need to dive—it is unclear whether context similarly impacts cannabis demand apart from a single study on job-related responsibilities.

This study will use a randomized mixed repeated-measures design in which demand will be assessed before and after participants view either high-resolution photos of cannabis (e.g., dried cannabis, paraphernalia) or neutral images (e.g., flowers, household objects). Participants will begin with an initial purchase task to determine baseline level of general cannabis demand, followed by three purchase tasks in the context of hypothetical cannabis use situations (i.e., typical scenario, prior to sleep, and prior to driving). Results from this study may inform clinical interventions by demonstrating conditions in which cannabis demand is increased, potentially contributing to excessive or risky use.

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