New research from the University of Buffalo found a strikingly low incidence of domestic violence in the marriages of couples who frequently smoked pot. The research paper was published this month in the medical journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. Surprisingly, the research was paid for with a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and a second grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The study is considered revealing, because the data that indicated an inverse relationship between incidences of domestic violence and frequency of pot smoking among married couples used strong methodology. The data was still striking even after the research team controlled demographic variables, alcohol abuse, and antisocial behavior. The Buffalo researchers administered regular questionnaires on many issues over a period of nine years. The study began in 1996 and, all together, 634 married couples were involved in the study.
According to WIVB, the researchers were initially trying to determine the relationship between marriages and drinking, but the questionnaire was detailed enough that the researchers found the unexpected inverse relationship between domestic violence and pot smoking.
Some parties opposed to the recreational use of marijuana have suggested that smoking pot or eating marijuana baked goods increases the likelihood of violence. The Inquisitrpreviously reported:
“Advocates for repealing laws legalizing marijuana usually bring up the shooting death of Kristine Kirk. Her husband shot her after lawfully consuming marijuana. What is not regularly mentioned in news reports though is that the police affidavit stated that her husband is believed to have also ingested prescription medication for his back pain.”
The findings from the University of Buffalo team indicate the argument that pot smoking makes a person violent is not a very valid argument. The research that went into any previous claims was largely based on cross-sectional data, according to The Washington Post. The University of Buffalo study is more significant and reliable because it’s one of the rare marijuana studies that used data collected over decades.
The researchers found the inverse relationship between domestic violence and pot smoking surprising. Ken Leonard, a lead researcher told WIVB:
“I think we were all surprised that [marijuana] led to that significant of a reduction in violence. Particularly when both the husband and wife reported frequent marijuana use that there were lower levels of both male partner aggression and female partner aggression.”
One important factor to consider is that while the link is statistically very strong, the link between domestic violence and frequent pot smoking is not necessarily causal. Although it’s possible that smoking pot makes people less prone to engage in domestic violence, the study’s authors suggested “marijuana may increase positive affect, which in turn could reduce the likelihood of conflict and aggression.” Another possible reason for the link between reduced incidences of domestic violence and frequent pot smoking is that people inclined to smoke pot may have a personality type that is less violent with or without the influence of smoking pot. What is clear though is the study’s findings:
“Couples in which both spouses used marijuana frequently reported the least frequent IPV [intimate partner violence] perpetration.”
In other good news about marijuana, states that have less restrictive laws are enjoying a 25 percent reduction in deaths from prescription painkillers. Between lower prescription painkiller deaths and less domestic violence, pot seems to be living up to the expectations of marijuana advocates across the nation.
[Cover photo via Marijuana News on Facebook]