COLUMBUS — As Ohio's medical marijuana program embarks on its second year, health care advocates are trying to better understand the prevalence of marijuana use, as well as its perceived safety.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal substance in the country, and the latest Ohio Health Issues Poll found nearly half of Ohio adults have a friend or family member who regularly uses the drug. Marcie Seidel, executive director of the Prevention Action Alliance, said the polling also asked opinions on the risk of self-harm among regular marijuana users.
"As they know more people that are using marijuana regularly, the perception of harm seems to be going down. People don't think it's a very harmful or even somewhat harmful substance," Seidel said. "Those are very interesting and important takeaways that we need to be monitoring over time."
Of the Ohio adults who said they know someone who regularly uses marijuana, 30 percent said they perceive it as harmful, compared with 60 percent of those who do not know someone who regularly uses the drug. The polling also found 8 in 10 Ohio adults have not sought information about medical marijuana, and just 2 percent had a written recommendation from their doctor for its use.
Seidel said the polling will be helpful as the state tracks the impact of the medical marijuana program. She added people need accurate data and facts so they can make good decisions about their health, and cautioned that there are many misconceptions about marijuana that are not based on research.
"Right now, marijuana is a booming business, and it's a business that people think that they're going to become very rich and it's going to be very lucrative," she said. "So there will be information out there that might be designed to increase that business instead of giving good facts."Marijuana is used by an estimated 44 million Americans age 12 and older each year, and more than 55,000 Ohioans purchased medical marijuana in 2019. Research and data is available online at PreventionActionAlliance.org/marijuana.