Regular Marijuana Use Linked to Economic and Social Problems

NewsWeek 23 March 2016
Family First Comment: This NZ study – reported worldwide – is ample warning not to decriminalise a harmful drug “”Regular long-term users also had more antisocial behaviors at work, such as stealing money or lying to get a job, and experienced more relationship problems, such as intimate partner violence and controlling abuse.”

People who smoke marijuana on a regular basis for years and those who are dependent on it are significantly more likely to have economic and social problems at midlife than those who use it only occasionally or not at all, new research shows. And the longer that people regularly smoke, the greater their chances of having these troubles.

The study does not prove that marijuana causes these problems, but it does go further than probably any other research has done before to demonstrate a strong link. The paper was compiled from information gathered on nearly 1,000 New Zealanders in the town of Dunedin, who were checked on and interviewed regularly from birth to the age of 38. It was published online March 23 in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.

People in the study who smoked regularly, defined as at least four times per week over the course of several years, had significantly more economic problems, such as high levels of debt, poorer credit ratings, limits on cash flow and even difficulty paying for food and rent, says study author Magdalena Cerdá, a researcher at the University of California, Davis.

Moreover, they also were more likely to exhibit antisocial tendencies in the workplace, including such things as lying and engaging in arguments with co-workers. And they were more like to have conflicts in their intimate relationships, she adds.

Heavy smokers also ended up in a lower “social class” than their parents, Cerdá says. (Social class was defined as level of job specialty, with professionals like doctors and lawyers at the top and unskilled laborers at the bottom.) Meanwhile, those who didn’t regularly smoke ended up in a higher social class than their parents. While noteworthy, the finding raises some philosophical questions about what “social class” really means and what the value of such distinctions are.

Unlike many studies, this paper tried to control for a wide variety of potentially confounding factors, such as ethnicity, social class of origin, family history of substance dependence, low childhood self-control, childhood IQ, adolescent psychological problems like depression and motivation level at age 18. The researchers also controlled for the use of alcohol and other drugs. When people using these substances were excluded and only those using solely marijuana were considered, the link held up, the study found.
READ MORE: http://www.newsweek.com/regular-marijuana-use-linked-economic-and-social-problems-440107

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