Drug Warriors have long implied that marijuana causes violent behavior -- which explains why recent incidents such as the tragic killing of Kristine Kirk, who was shot to death by her husband after he'd consumed a marijuana edible, have been major talking points for opponents of pot legalization.
But now, new research offers evidence countering such theories. The study, on view below in its entirety, found that weed-smoking couples are less apt to engage in domestic violence.
The study's lead author is Philip H. Smith, a doctoral graduate at the University of Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions; he's currently an associate research scientist at Yale. Smith used data collected in part by lead investigator Kenneth Leonard, who directs UB's Research Institute on Addictions.
Note that the study, which first appeared online in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, was funded in part by the federal government via grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, respectively.
The scholarly bent of the paper is reflected in its professorial prose and frequent use of academic jargon. For instance, the term "domestic violence" is eschewed in favor of "Intimate Partner Violence," shorthanded as IPV, and there are plenty of passages like this one: "IPV was measured using the physical assault and injury subscales of the Conflict Tactics Scale-Revised (CTS-2) (Straus, Hamby, Boney-McCoy, & Sugarman, 1996)." But the rigorousness of the approach gives the results added heft. Note that the data was collected from a sizable pool of participants -- 634 couples -- and looked at incidents in their relationship over the first nine years of marriage.
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At the outset of the paper, the authors acknowledge that "research on the association between marijuana use and intimate partner violence...has generated inconsistent findings." But that wasn't true in this case. A University of Buffalo release cites these study highpoints:
• More frequent marijuana use by husbands and wives (two-to-three times per month or more often) predicted less frequent intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration by husbands.
• Husbands' marijuana use also predicted less frequent IPV perpetration by wives.
• Couples in which both spouses used marijuana frequently reported the least frequent IPV perpetration.
• The relationship between marijuana use and reduced partner violence was most evident among women who did not have histories of prior antisocial behavior.
The study doesn't present itself as definitive. While the data's scope and structure make it "strong in methodology relative to existing research on this topic," the authors acknowledge that "replication and elaboration of this finding is needed before drawing more substantive conclusions."
Nonetheless, they believe that the results have "potentially important public health implications" -- and should future research support their conclusions, it'd be tough to argue with their logic.
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Here's the study.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.