The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Big Number: Most adults think marijuana can be good for health

Can marijuana be beneficial to your health? Most American adults — 81 percent — think so, according to new national survey results published online by Annals of Internal Medicine. The survey included responses from 9,003 adults considered a nationally representative sample. The believed benefits cited by the most people were managing pain (noted by 66 percent of participants), treating diseases such as multiple sclerosis and epilepsy (48 percent), and easing stress, anxiety and depression (47 percent). That said, 91 percent of respondents said they also believe that marijuana comes with risk, the most common being legal problems (cited by 52 percent), addiction (50 percent) and impaired memory (42 percent).

 The concern, though, is that people’s beliefs about the health benefits of marijuana are not necessarily in sync with accepted medical research, according to the experts who conducted the survey. For instance, they wrote, the effectiveness and safety of using marijuana to treat insomnia, anxiety and depression “have not been established, and possible harms exist.” They concluded that “the public may be underestimating [marijuana’s] long-term risks.” Because legalization of marijuana is spreading, with medicinal use now legal in 30 states and recreational use legal in nine, they stressed the need for additional research to more fully understand the health effects and safety of regular use of the drug.

— Linda Searing

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