New evidence from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health further illustrates the discrepancy in perceived harm associated with marijuana and heroin use. Published in a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the data indicate that only around one-third of individuals ages 12 and older perceived great risk of harm from weekly use of marijuana.
Conversely, the report states, 85.6% of survey respondents said they perceived great risk of harm from trying heroin. Also, 68.3% of respondents perceived great risk from consuming four or five alcohol drinks per day.
The report, Risk and Protective Factors and Estimates of Substance Use Initiation: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, states that adolescents ages 12 to 17 report much easier access to marijuana than to heroin. While less than 10% of adolescents said heroin would be easily attainable, 44.7% said marijuana would be either fairly easy or very easy to obtain.
The survey data indicate that there were 2.6 million new users of marijuana among people ages 12 and older in 2016, compared with 170,000 new users of heroin.