Researchers behind a first-of-its-kind study say their findings demonstrate significant harms to others can be caused by one's marijuana use, and they say like New Jersey should use this and future similar data to shape policies regarding pot sales and use.

In the study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 8.4% of respondents report "experiencing harm" because of someone else's marijuana use.

"The most common kind of harm was being harassed or bothered," said lead author William Kerr, of California-based Alcohol Research Group, at the Public Health Institute. "Family problems was the second-most common domain, followed by financial troubles."

ARG collaborated with RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, on the study, which took data from adults in Washington state, where recreational marijuana has been legal since 2012.

"Marijuana's not a completely harmless substance, and like alcohol, we need to pay attention to how it's regulated and sold," Kerr said. "This study demonstrates significant risks of harms to others from marijuana use and the need for further studies to better understand and quantify these impacts."

The authors consider the 8.4% as "substantial," but they note that alcohol-related secondhand harms are at least three times more likely to be reported than secondhand harms from marijuana.

Alcohol's secondhand harms are widely studied in the U.S. and abroad, but this is the first-ever study specifically of marijuana's secondhand harms, study authors say.

With the November 2020 election, New Jersey is now one of 15 states that have green-lighted recreational marijuana. Gov. Phil Murphy announced Friday that he and legislative leaders had reached a deal on rules outlining the state's marijuana market.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com

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