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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

University at Buffalo: Study Gives Failing Grade to Cannabis Users’ Knowledge of Risks

Researchers quizzed cannabis enthusiasts at a marijuana advocacy event about their beliefs on whether the drug is effective in treating certain medical conditions. The majority of the nearly 500 people surveyed failed the quiz, according to the best science available.

“There is a big discrepancy between what the empirical evidence is saying and what people believe,” said Dr. Daniel Kruger, lead author of the recently published study, and a research associate professor in the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions Department of Community Health and Health Behavior and research investigator with the Population Studies Center at University of Michigan. The research team included Dr. Jessica Kruger, clinical assistant professor at UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions.

Researchers surveyed nearly 500 participants at an annual marijuana advocacy event at the University of Michigan, asking about cannabis use and where respondents obtained their information about marijuana

Participants’ knowledge was compared with National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) conclusions regarding medical effectiveness and risk related to cannabis use.

For example, only 22 percent of respondents thought that cannabis use during pregnancy could be risky. The majority of respondents said cannabis was effective in treating cancer, depressive symptoms and epilepsy. NASEM’s assessment concludes there is limited evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids effectively reduce depressive symptoms, and no or insufficient evidence they work for cancer and epilepsy.

This knowledge gap is significant from a public health perspective, researchers say, noting a growing number of states have legalized —  or are considering legalizing — adult recreational marijuana use.

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