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THURSDAY, Feb. 15, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Many believe alcohol poses a greater danger to health than marijuana, a new study out of Oregon suggests.
Researchers surveyed more than 1,900 adults in Oregon before that state legalized recreational marijuana use in 2015. The study found that 52.5 percent thought alcohol was more harmful to health than marijuana, while just 7.5 percent thought marijuana was more harmful than alcohol.
Younger adults were much more likely to believe that the potential health harms of alcohol were greater than those of marijuana.
"The findings surprised me somewhat," said study author Jane Allen, a research public health analyst at RTI International, a nonprofit research group based in North Carolina. "There is widespread acceptance of alcohol for adult recreational use, and in contrast, marijuana is classified at the federal level as a Schedule I drug.
"There seems to be a disconnect between the social and legal status of the substances and people's perceptions of harmfulness," she said in an RTI news release.
Allen described the study as "the first to measure perceptions of the relative harmfulness of marijuana and alcohol."
Other findings included:
- Nearly 58 percent of Democrats, 56 percent of Independents and 62 percent of those with no political affiliation considered alcohol more harmful than marijuana, compared with 31 percent of Republicans.
- Among people who used both substances, almost 68 percent believed alcohol was more harmful than marijuana. Among people who used neither substance, 48 percent considered alcohol the more harmful substance.
Recreational and medicinal use of marijuana is legal in nine states and Washington, D.C., and medicinal use alone is legal in 20 other states.
The study has been published online and will appear in the April issue of the journal Preventive Medicine.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: RTI International, news release, Feb. 7, 2018