Cannabidiol Knowledge, Perceptions, and Use Among Young Adults in 6 U.S. Metropolitan Areas

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Cannabis and cannabinoid research




cannabidiol; cannabinoids; prevention; public health policy; risk perceptions; young adults


Cannabidiol (CBD) has gained popularity in the United States, particularly among certain populations, including young adults. Thus, we examined (1) CBD product knowledge, perceptions, use, and use intentions among young adults and (2) correlates of use and use intentions. We analyzed data from a Fall 2020 survey regarding tobacco and other substance use among 2464 young adults in 6 U.S. cities (M=24.67; 57.4% female; 28.7% racial/ethnic minority). We used multinomial regression to identify correlates of use status (i.e., former [ever but no past 6 months] use vs. current [past 6 months] and never use, respectively), and linear regression to examine use intentions among never users. Around 51.4% reported ever use, and 32.0% reported current use. On average, participants perceived CBD as safe and effective for addressing pain, anxiety, and sleep (also prominent use motives: ∼40% to 60%, respectively). Use intentions were relatively high, particularly for edibles and topicals (also the most common use modes). Roughly one-fourth mistakenly believed that CBD products were required to be approved by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (24.9%), tested/proven safe (28.8%), and proven effective to be marketed for pain, anxiety, sleep, and so on. (27.2%). Compared to former users, never users perceived greater CBD-related risk (<0.001), less social acceptability (<0.001), and greater difficulty accessing CBD (=0.004); current users perceived more health benefits (<0.001). Among never users, greater use intentions were associated with greater perceived social acceptability (<0.001), health benefits (<0.001), and difficulty accessing CBD (=0.005). Given misperceptions about CBD, surveillance of young adults' knowledge, perceptions, and use of CBD is critical as its market expands.


Prevention and Community Health