Marijuana use, risk perception, and consequences: is perceived risk congruent with reality?

Addict Behav. 2007 Dec;32(12):3026-33. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2007.07.009. Epub 2007 Aug 3.


The present study evaluates differences in risk perception related to marijuana use as a function of past use and, among those who report marijuana use, as a function of frequency of use and having experienced a consequence in the past. Participants were 725 incoming first year college students in a longitudinal study examining the efficacy of a marijuana prevention program. Analyses of cross-sectional data indicated that risk perception was greater among non-users of marijuana than for those who reported marijuana use (and, in turn, who were more likely to have actually experienced a drug-related consequence). Among marijuana users, risk perception was not influenced by the frequency of marijuana use nor was it influenced by the actual experience of a drug-related consequence. The findings suggest that for abstainers, perceived risk and the potential consequences of marijuana use may serve a protective role against the initiation of marijuana use. For those who use marijuana, intervention efforts utilizing motivation enhancement approaches could explore the discrepancy between perceived risks and actual experienced consequences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Abuse / prevention & control
  • Marijuana Abuse / psychology*
  • Peer Group
  • Perception / drug effects*
  • Perception / physiology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Environment
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Students / psychology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data