In our latest adventure in blunts here at L.A. Weekly, we’re taking a look at the research data around the way Backwoods trend across social media.

In particular, the #backwoods hashtag on Instagram.

While honeys are the main weapon of choice when compiling annual traditions like The 12 Strains of Christmas or The Strains of Summer, we love them all. Russian cream, more recently Wild Rum, or that time we first saw Black Russians down the street from the office, all magical in their own right.

Sometimes people would question this faith, “Why would you put some of the best weed in the world inside of a blunt?” Because if you can taste it through a woods you know it’s the goods. And according to the research, Instagram agrees.

How They Did It

A group of six researchers in the Department of Preventive Medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine produced the research. They thought the popularity of Instagram presented a unique opportunity to look at the way people interact with brands like Backwoods that “facilitate blunt making.” Love that. This included a look at the different flavors individually as well.

“Instagram offers a unique opportunity to examine blunt making as Instagram accounts will contain images reflective of behavior occurring without the prime of a researcher,” the researchers noted. That means they can find pictures of people rolling blunts without asking to help their research, and they’re not impacting the results.

They spent two weeks looking at the hashtag #backwoods. They set some basic guidelines to filter out all that hiker noise on the hashtag. Things they looked for specifically included another hashtag related to the activity like #blunts. Or if the post actually included the person rolling up or they were smoking in the post.

The Hikers Lost #Backwoods For Sure

Just over 72% of the images they looked at ended up being flagged for being blunt-related. The lion’s share of the posts had to do with flavor preference: “Among blunt images, 434 of 836 (51.9%) were coded as product flavor (i.e., a Backwoods pack with a brand-specific flavor was visible).”

One in ten photos featured someone in the act of smoking a blunt. Only a small fraction of the posts, 2.4%, featured somebody rolling one up.

In the end, Backwoods-related Instagram posts are very blunt-related.

“Continued monitoring and surveillance of blunt-related posts on Instagram is needed to inform policies and interventions that reduce the risk that youth may experiment with blunts. Specific policies could include restrictions on product features (e.g., flavors, perforated lines, attractive resealable foil pouches, sale as singles) that facilitate blunt making,” the researchers noted in their conclusions.

The Great Exotic Backwoods Election of 2022

California lawmakers moved forward with a plan to ban all flavored tobacco products in the state in 2020. But it didn’t go into effect on New Year’s Day after The California Coalition for Fairness challenged the plan.

The courts put the ban on hold to wait for the voters. You can your hands on all the Backwoods flavors available in North America.

California votes on the issue in 2022. Supporters of the repeal gathered 623,000+ signatures certified by the Secretary of State in January. According to Ballotpedia, through December 31, 2020, the campaign to reverse the ban had received $21.1 million. This includes $10.3 million from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and $9.8 million from Philip Morris USA.

So in theory, all our favorite Backwoods flavors might sneak in the door behind the menthol money. The ballot initiative failing results in a new illicit market.


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