Women are twice as likely to view marijuana use as “risky”

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez |

The fairer sex is wary of a fair amount of cannabis use, a new study says.

Researchers at Columbia University and John Hopkins University found women are nearly twice as likely to find regular cannabis use risky.

Additionally, low income, nonwhite women over 50 are more likely to find regular cannabis use risky, according to Medical News Today.

The study looked at surveys of over 600,000 people in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, from 2002-2012. It defined “low income” as making between $20,000-$50,000 a year. As to why women perceived marijuana use as risky, well, it has to do with their broader perceptions of drug use, the study’s author says.

“The sex differences in perceived risk of regular cannabis use observed in our study are consistent with reports from others showing male-female differences in perceived risk of substance use in general,” senior author Dr. Silvia Martins told Medical News Today.

So cannabis isn’t kosher because drugs in general aren’t kosher, in women’s eyes.

And though many San Franciscans may disagree with the study’s definition of “regular use” of marijuana, at once or twice a week, a little usage can clear the haze of negative perceptions.

Not surprisingly, the study found that those who have hit the pipe once or twice tended to view marijuana use as safer than their non-smoking counterparts. Younger and more affluent folks tended to view the good green as less risky, as well.

This ganja gap hasn’t gone unnoticed by national reform group NORML, which has specific groups targeting women’s perceptions of legalization efforts.

“From child protective service issues to treating menstrual cramps and other medical benefits, to cultural cliches – when it comes to this issue, women are major stakeholders, but many continue to have reservations,” NORML’s “women’s issues”(certainly an odd title) page reads. “With every poll that comes out, women are lagging in support by an average of five to ten percentage points behind men.”

And efforts like NORML’s may be working. At the very least, women’s perception of marijuana has changed since 2002, the study found.

Though the proportion of women who felt cannabis was risky remained stable over time, their perceived risk still dropped from 59% to 47% over the decade of the survey.

This is likely due to cannabis legalization, the study’s author said.

“The changing perception about marijuana risk may at least partially be explained by the increasing number of states that legalized medical marijuana during 2008 and after,” Dr. Martins told Medical News Today.

So if and when California legalizes, be ready for the women in the state to warm up to the idea of lighting up.

[h/t Medical News Today]

Illustration via the Norml Women’s Alliance Facebook page.