Study: Perceived Risk Of Marijuana Use Influenced By Gender, Age, Household Income

 Communications Director
March 12, 2015 12:00 PM

Baltimore, MD: Females are nearly twice as likely as males to perceive the regular use of marijuana as risky behavior, according findings published online ahead of print in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Investigators at John Hopkins University and Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health analyzed data from 614,579 participants in the 2002-2012 National Survey on Drug Use and correlated demographic characteristics with subjects' beliefs regarding marijuana's perceived risks.

Researchers reported that female subjects, non-whites, participants over the age of 50 and those with a family income between $20,000 and $49,000 were most likely to believe that cannabis posed a serious threat. By contrast, those least likely to perceive marijuana as risky were between the ages of 18 and 25, had completed high school and/or college and reported a total family income of $75,000 or more.

"The sex differences in perceived risk of regular cannabis use observed in our study are consistent with reports from others showing male-female differences in perceived risk of substance use in general," said Dr. Silvia Martins, a co-author of the study.

Among all respondents, those perceiving "great risk" from cannabis fell significantly in recent years, from 51 percent in 2002 to 40 percent in 2012. Among female respondents, 47 percent perceived cannabis use to be risky in 2012, down from 59 percent in 2002.

National polling data published by the Pew Research Center in 2013 reported that 57 percent of men and 48 percent of women were in favor of legalizing cannabis.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at:paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, "Perceived risk of regular cannabis use in the United States from 2002 to 2012: Differences by sex, age, and race/ethnicity," appears online in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.


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