Teenagers who smoke marijuana only — and not tobacco as well — have a stronger social life, are more adept at sports and have equally as good grades as those who smoke weed and cigarettes, a Swiss study found.
Digital Journal — Flying in the face of the “apathetic pothead” theory, a study
of more than 5,000 youngsters in Switzerland concluded that teens who just smoked pot “were more socially driven and had no more psychosocial problems than those who had never taken” either cigarettes or weed.
Not only did marijuana smokers have better relationships with their peers than those who puff on both joints and cigs, but the authors offered another interesting nugget of information
: "Moreover, even though they are more likely to skip class, they have the same level of good grades; and although they have a worse relationship with their parents, they are not more likely to be depressed than abstainers."
The study, published in the November issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine
, also found that the marijuana-cigarette group tended to abuse alcohol, start using marijuana at an earlier age than the marijuana-only group, and were more likely to be living with both their parents.
The Swiss researchers didn’t offer any concrete reasons to why weed smokers fared better than previously thought, only mentioning that these people tend to be “sensation seekers.” While that explains the propensity to sports, it doesn’t explain the strong relationships and mental stability that run counter to Reefer Madness
hysteria. What the study does reinforce, though, is the logical belief that the properties of a plant like marijuana may not change behavior as much as environmental factors or personality traits. Also, the study highlights the distinction between drug use and drug abuse, as columnist Jacob Sullum points out
While early, heavy pot smoking (or drinking) is cause for concern, an occasional puff (or beer) does not portend disaster, and may in fact be associated with somewhat better social and academic outcomes.
Marijuana studies help the public better understand the nature of a substance often cloaked in mystery. Thanks to the governments in almost every country, marijuana is still considered the “devil weed” and rarely researched as thoroughly as lesser known drugs. The Swiss study is a step with the right intention, dispelling myths and underscoring the importance of knowing more about marijuana before vilifying it.