Background: Despite insufficient evidence regarding its risks and benefits, marijuana is increasingly available and is aggressively marketed to the public.
Objective: To understand the public's views on the risks and benefits of marijuana use.
Design: Probability-based online survey.
Setting: United States, 2017.
Participants: 16 280 U.S. adults.
Measurements: Proportion of U.S. adults who agreed with a statement.
Results: 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.
Limitation: Wording of the questions may have affected interpretation.
Conclusion: Americans' view of marijuana use is more favorable than existing evidence supports.
Primary funding source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.