Almost half of US adults endorse a form of marijuana as safe to use. These beliefs are not supported by existing evidence and raise the possibility of increasing use despite gaps in knowledge about marijuana’s health effects. While edible marijuana is perceived as the safest form of use by US adults, there is minimal data on the safety of any form of marijuana.7 While there is some limited evidence that cannabinoids are beneficial for the treatment of certain medical conditions (e.g., nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy or pain and spasticity of multiple sclerosis), data on risks is limited and outpaced by rapid commercialization and legalization. In addition, as marijuana is still classified as a schedule 1 drug, few trials have examined the safety and efficacy of cannabinoids. Existing trials generally use pharmaceutical forms with lower doses of THC, which are not representative of most commercial marijuana products on the market today.6 Therefore, there is little data available on the safety of products marketed to the public.
Our study has several limitations. Use of an online survey may limit generalizability; however, our study population was similar in baseline sociodemographic characteristics to the populations of other federal surveys and is representative of the adult US population.1 Additionally, we did not conduct reliability testing of the questions regarding opinions on forms of use, and the phrasing of the questions may have impacted interpretation by the respondents.
As more states legalize recreational use of marijuana, further research assessing the safety of marijuana across its various forms is necessary to inform state regulations and public policy.