Weed Safer than Cigarettes and Alcohol Says new Poll

Liz Filmer
28 Jun 2023

Americans consider weed to be considerably less dangerous than cigarettes, alcohol and opioids, according to a recent poll. They also say that cannabis is less addictive than each substance and less habit-forming than technology such as social media.

The survey of 2,201 adults between April 2020-22 by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) investigated public opinion on the dangers and addictive potential of six substances, plus technology.

38% of participants said they found cannabis "very or somewhat unsafe."

Regarding the other substances, 84% considered cigarettes unsafe, alcohol 64% per cent, prescription opioids 66%, non-prescription opioids 75% and vapes 76%. 

The only thing people considered safer than weed was technology, which only 23% of those surveyed described as being "very" or "somewhat" unsafe.

In response to another question, 64% believed cannabis could be addictive. However, that was a lower percentage than reported with each category "perceived dangers". Percentages are as follows:

cigarettes 87%
alcohol 84%
prescribed opioids 83%
non-prescribed opioids 74%
vapes 81%
technology 75%

APA is planning to launch a campaign to increase awareness around addiction. Initially, the campaign will focus on vaping, opioids, alcohol and, eventually, technology. There was no mention, however, of any plans to include cannabis in this nationwide awareness and education campaign.

A New York-specific survey that was released in March found that 77% of those surveyed considered alcohol use as a serious public health concern, while in contrast, only 46% said the same about cannabis consumption.

The findings of these surveys are primarily consistent with shifting public perceptions of alcohol and marijuana both nationally and internationally. Fewer people now view cannabis as a dangerous substance, and more states and countries are moving toward legalising the plant for medical and recreational purposes. Public education has so far played a big part in the public's increased awareness of how harmful alcohol can be.

This ties in with past reports and surveys which all tell us that, in many cases, people are using weed as an alternative to alcohol and in place of more addictive prescription medications.

In a separate survey, around one in five people who swore off alcohol for "Dry January," this year said they were using cannabis as an alternative. In another poll released last year, more Americans admitted to openly smoking marijuana or eating cannabis-infused edibles than said they've smoked cigarettes in the past week.

Liz Filmer