Despite heightened consumer interest in cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), little is known about public perceptions regarding their medical use and potential for abuse, particularly relative to commonly used medications. Using data from 1,050 U.S. adult respondents from a national survey conducted in 2019, this study found that more than half of respondents perceived CBD, THC, hemp, and marijuana as having medical use. They also perceived the potential for abuse of CBD, THC, hemp, and marijuana as significantly less than potential for abuse of commonly prescribed anti-anxiety and pain medications. At the nexus of medical use and potential abuse, public perceptions classified CBD and hemp as similar to over-the-counter pain relief medications such as Advil and Tylenol and did not classify marijuana as a Schedule I substance. Slightly more than 20% of respondents reported having consumed CBD and/or THC. CBD was consumed more than THC to reduce pain while THC was consumed more than CBD for recreation. There were no differences in the types of medications they were replacing with CBD and THC.
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