Public Health and Safety

Marijuana & Risk: A new study on perceptions

An analysis of national data by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, “Joint perceptions of the risk and availability of Cannabis in the United States, 2002-2018” (Levy examines the influence that the perception of risk has upon the use rates of cannabis. Using national survey results from over 900,000 people, from 2002 – 2018, researchers reported that the perception of cannabis as being “low-risk” had doubled. For individuals that had a combined perception of “low-risk” and greater substance availability, past year cannabis use increased by 22 fold. Males, over 18 years of age, were more likely to view marijuana as both “low-risk” and more readily available. In contrast, researchers found that youth (12 – 17) had “minimal differences in perception” regardless of gender. 

The authors cite that the trends in perception by age offer insight into prevention efforts that solely focus on the risks associated to use and offer an opportunity to identify “priority groups” for intervention and educational efforts.   

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Photo: Unsplash / V. Babienko