Risks and Benefits of Marijuana Use: A National Survey of U.S. Adults

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Despite insufficient evidence regarding its risks and benefits, marijuana is increasingly available and is aggressively marketed to the public.


To understand the public's views on the risks and benefits of marijuana use.


Probability-based online survey.


United States, 2017.


16 280 U.S. adults.


Proportion of U.S. adults who agreed with a statement.


The response rate was 55.3% (n = 9003). Approximately 14.6% of U.S. adults reported using marijuana in the past year. About 81% of U.S. adults believe marijuana has at least 1 benefit, whereas 17% believe it has no benefit. The most common benefit cited was pain management (66%), followed by treatment of diseases, such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis (48%), and relief from anxiety, stress, and depression (47%). About 91% of U.S. adults believe marijuana has at least 1 risk, whereas 9% believe it has no risks. The most common risk identified by the public was legal problems (51.8%), followed by addiction (50%) and impaired memory (42%). Among U.S. adults, 29.2% agree that smoking marijuana prevents health problems. About 18% believe exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke is somewhat or completely safe for adults, whereas 7.6% indicated that it is somewhat or completely safe for children. Of the respondents, 7.3% agree that marijuana use is somewhat or completely safe during pregnancy. About 22.4% of U.S. adults believe that marijuana is not at all addictive.


Wording of the questions may have affected interpretation.


Americans' view of marijuana use is more favorable than existing evidence supports.

Primary Funding Source:

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

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