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Public knowledge, perceptions, and behavioral intention regarding medical cannabis in Belgium

  • Pav, Matthias
  • Haesaert, Geert
  • De Steur, Hans
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2024
Ghent University Institutional Archive
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Growing evidence on medical cannabis has moved its legislation forward in various countries, which has increased research on stakeholder reactions. While various studies looked at experts and users, research on public perceptions is scarce. This study aims to (1) examine the relationships between knowledge, perceptions, and behavioral intention toward medical cannabis, and (2) identify and profile key segments within the general public. An online survey was conducted among 656 respondents in Belgium. Findings showed that both subjective and objective knowledge are relatively poor, while risk/benefit perceptions and behavioral intention are much more positive. Subjective and objective knowledge as well as social trust have a positive influence on risk perceptions and a negative influence on benefit perceptions. In turn, risk and benefit perceptions are key determinants of behavioral intention, but in opposite directions. Furthermore, cluster analysis identified a cautious (23% of the sample), positive (50%), and enthusiastic cluster (27%). In terms of socio-demographic profile, older and highly educated people were significantly more represented in the latter two clusters. While our study demonstrated that cannabis is well accepted for medical purposes, research is needed to further validate the relationships between knowledge, perceptions, and (intended) behavior in different settings and policy contexts.

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