Most Americans Who Don’t Use Marijuana Are Worried About Stigmas, Not Health Risks

Most Americans who don't consume cannabis are more worried about stigmas than the potential health risks or legal ramifications surrounding marijuana use, according to the 2018 Civilized Culture Poll. 

Civilized has partnered with PSB to conduct a survey of over 1,600 North American adults to explore modern cannabis culture. One thing we wanted to find out was why people are opposed to consuming cannabis. Most respondents told us that it's not the plant itself but the politics surrounding it that has turned them off of marijuana.

Our poll looked at three different kinds of stigmas.

  1. Being labeled as a 'pothead' or a 'stoner': These terms come with all sorts of negative connotations, such as laziness, being dimwitted and even having questionable morals. Of course we don't believe any of these things to be true for the majority of cannabis consumers, but these stereotypes persist. In fact, 16 percent of people who don't use marijuana said these labels influenced their decision to abstain from marijuana.
  2. Being a 'bad influence': Considering all of the negative stereotypes associated with marijuana use, it's no wonder that people are afraid of being labelled a bad influence. The fact of the matter is that plenty of people who use cannabis products lead perfectly healthy and happy lives, maybe even more so. Nevertheless, 16 percent of people who don't use marijuana said they were worried that weed might ruin their reputation.
  3. Being judged: Anyone who participates in a culture that is so actively demonized is liable to get some nasty looks from disapproving friends, family and acquaintances who buy into the misinformation floating around about marijuana (we're looking at you, 'gateway drug' theory). So it's no wonder that 8 percent of people who don't use marijuana said this was why they abstain.

In total, 40 percent of people who don't use cannabis say it's because of stigmas and stereotypes. That's almost double the amount that say they're worried about health risks (24 percent). 

The legalization movement has made a lot of gains over the years in terms of changing perceptions of marijuana, but it's clear that we still have a long way to go before society stops looking down on cannabis consumers.

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