HealthDay News — Most US adults believe that marijuana has at least one benefit, according to a study published online July 24 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Salomeh Keyhani, MD, MPH, from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues conducted a probability-based online survey involving 16,280 U.S. adults to examine their views on the risks and benefits of marijuana use. 

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Overall, 55.3% of participants responded. The researchers found that 14.6% of U.S. adults reported using marijuana in the past year. About 81 and 17% of US adults believe that marijuana has at least 1 benefit and has no benefit, respectively. Pain management was cited as the most common benefit (66%), followed by treatment of diseases, including epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, and relief from anxiety, stress, and depression (48 and 47%, respectively). About 91 and 9% of U.S. adults believe that marijuana has at least one or no risks, respectively. The most common risks identified were legal problems, addiction, and impaired memory (51.8, 50, and 42%, respectively). Overall, 29.2% of US adults agreed that smoking marijuana prevents health problems. About 18 and 7.6% believe that exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke is somewhat or completely safe for adults and children, respectively; 7.3% believe marijuana use is somewhat or completely safe during pregnancy.

“Americans’ view of marijuana use is more favorable than existing evidence supports,” the authors write.

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