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article imageStudy: Marijuana reduces rates of domestic violence in couples

By Nicole Weddington     Aug 29, 2014 in Politics
A recent study from the University of Buffalo demonstrates significantly lower rates of domestic violence in couples who use marijuana over their first nine years of marriage.
The authors conclude that, “there may be an overall inverse association between marijuana use and IPV [intimate partner violence] perpetration in newly married couples.” It’s a result they note persists even after controlling the data for alcohol abuse, preexisting behavioral issues, and other influencing factors.
The paper reports additional correlations beyond this gross reduction in the incidence of IPV in couples who smoke. The authors find that “husbands’ marijuana use” alone was predictive of less frequent IPV perpetration, and that “more frequent marijuana use by husbands and wives” together predicted less violent behavior on the part of the husbands.
The study is one of the first of its kind to examine data collected over a significant period of time — in this case, nine years. This allowed the authors to report a more careful analysis of the issue than has been possible in previous research.
Despite the positive findings, the authors are careful to emphasize that the results do not indicate a causal relationship between marijuana usage and reduced IPV. As it stands, the results are merely correlative.
Dr. Philip H. Smith, the lead author on the study, has said that studies, “replicating these findings” and researching “day-to-day marijuana and alcohol use and the likelihood of IPV on the same day” will be necessary before the team can draw “stronger conclusions”.
However, the results seem promising in the context of previous research, which has suggested that, contrary to marijuana myths, users might be less depressed than non-users and that alcohol usage correlates with domestic violence.
The paper is yet another example of the recent spike in research related to the effects of marijuana on biology and behavior. Increased legalization efforts in recent years have made clear the need for more, and better, marijuana-related research. Both the scientific community and the federal government have expressed this sentiment, and even the DEA has extended its support.
The Brookings Institute in Washington suggests that “regulators, like the lay public, will think more clearly about an issue when they are informed by a steady stream of relatively rigorous data and findings.” The claim is hard to dispute. The University of Buffalo received funding from the National Institute for Drug Abuse, which has traditionally had an obstructionist relationship with marijuana research.
Sweeping legalization efforts are not the only reason that such a steady stream of data and findings is important.
According to the Pew Research Center, roughly half of adults report having tried marijuana at least once, the “highest percentage ever.” The increasingly easy access to and growing interest in the drug have made the need for more accurate information more relevant than ever.
Thankfully, growing state and federal attention to matters of drug policy and the effects marijuana has on health and society seem to ensure such information will be increasingly available in the coming years.
More about marijuana legalization, Marijuana, Medical Marijuana
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