Science & Technology

Marijuana Users Less Likely to Engage In Domestic Violence



A team of researchers tracked domestic violence among 1990s newlyweds. One notable finding? In their first year of state-sanctioned coupledom, 37 percent of husbands admitted to some sort of physical aggression against their wives. Most of it was only "moderate" aggression, according to lead researcher Kenneth Leonard—things like pushing or slapping—yet this still seems like a surprisingly high amount. On the less surprising side of things, however: Pot-smoking wives and husbands were significantly less likely to lash out physically

The researchers' original hypothesis was that marijuana use would increase incidences of intimate partner violence (IPV) among married couples. To test this hypothesis, the team of Yale, University of Buffalo, and Rutgers researchers tracked 634 New York newlyweds for nine years. The results

  • more frequent marijuana use by husbands was linked to less violence from husbands
  • more frequent marijuana use by husbands was linked to less violence from wives
  • more frequent marijuana use by both husbands and wives was linked to less violence from husbands

The only group for which marijuana use was not linked to less violence perpetration was wives who had a history of pre-marriage partner violence. Couples in which both spouses reported consuming marijuana frequently had the lowest IPV rates.

Obviously this doesn't mean marijuana makes people less violent per se—maybe the types prone to pot-smoking are just inherently less violent individuals; or perhaps the types prone to partner violence are categorically less drawn to the drug. But it is interesting to contrast these stats with numbers on alcohol, which has frequently been linked to increased incidences of partner violence. In one recent study, published in the journal Addictive Behaviors in January 2014, researchers found that "on any alcohol use days, heavy alcohol use days (five or more standard drinks), and as the number of drinks increased on a given day, the odds of physical and sexual aggression perpetration" by college-age men in relationships increased. Alcohol was also linked to "psychological aggression," but "marijuana use days did not increase the odds of any type of aggression."

But studies showing little link between marijuana and aggression haven't phased the feds. As High Times points out, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) last year "appropriated nearly $2 million in funding for a four-year study to assess whether marijuana use" is linked with partner violence.