It goes without saying that people who use cannabis will have different opinions about the drug than people who do not. But you may be surprised to see how drastic the difference between the two can be.
Civilized teamed up with PSB Research to interview over 1,000 Americans and 600 Canadians, both cannabis users and non-users, about their thoughts on the drug and its effects. One of the questions we asked was whether people believed marijuana use impaired a person’s performance in a variety of tasks.
Unsurprisingly, cannabis users were less likely to believe that marijuana impaired their performance than non-users. For instance, 58 percent of non-cannabis users in the United States said they believed using marijuana impaired a person’s ability to drive. But only 38 percent of cannabis users said the same thing.
But the results from Canadian respondents was much different. 72 percent of non-cannabis users in Canada said they believe that using marijuana impairs driving ability, and even 52 percent of marijuana users agreed. So cannabis users in Canada had the same beliefs as non-users in the United States.
The connection between marijuana use and driving accidents is often thrown out by anti-legalization advocates. However, there’s actually very little scientific study on the subject to truly understand what effect cannabis use has on driving. One study from France found that people using marijuana and driving were 1.65 times more likely to cause a fatal car accident than a sober person. To put that in comparison, people who drink alcohol and drive are 17.8 times more likely to cause fatal accident than a sober person. So while there’s definitely an increased risk when smoking and driving, it’s not nearly as dangerous as drinking and driving.
The results for the other questions in the survey were more identical between the two countries. Around half of non-cannabis users believed marijuana affected critical thinking, concentration, motivation and productivity in both countries, while only around 30 percent of actual marijuana users in both countries felt the same.
Sex drive is the one area where there was very little disagreement among users and non-users in Canada and the United States. 19 percent of non-user Americans and 21 percent of non-user Canadians said they believe cannabis impairs a person's sex drive. Meanwhile 16 percent of marijuana users in both Canada and the U.S. felt the same. So while there were massive differences in terms of mental tasks (concentration, critical thinking, etc.), it seems everyone is in agreement on how marijuana affects some of our more intimate behaviors.
As more and more states in America and the entire country of Canada legalizes marijuana, the number of people using cannabis is also increasing. So over time some of the stigma associated with marijuana use will probably decrease among non-users. So perhaps in only a few short years, the gulf in opinions between users and non-users will get smaller as well, and people will agree on the drug’s many benefits.