Couples who smoke marijuana experience less domestic violence and discord, a new study found.
Researchers studied data from 634 couples during the first nine years of their marriages, between 1996 and 2005. The couples were asked about their drug use, alcohol use, and acts of physical aggression.
The more often couples smoked up, the researchers found, the less likely they were to commit domestic violence. The study is the largest of its kind, and the fact that it covered nearly a decade’s worth of data gives it added weight.
“Couples in which both spouses used marijuana frequently reported the least frequent . . . perpetration” of domestic violence, researchers found.
The report was published by scientists at the University of Buffalo. Their findings held up even after controlling for demographics, behavioral problems, alcohol use, and other variables.
Authors of the new study said more research is needed into the effects of marijuana, including dependence, abuse, and withdrawal. Each of these behavioral states can impact how couples interact.
And some of the data is nearly 20 years old, raising questions about whether the findings would carry over to current newlyweds in light of what the study called “the trend toward marijuana decriminalization in the United States and potentially more positive attitudes toward its use.”
But the study is strong evidence for the belief that cannabis is a calming drug that soothes aggravation and rounds off violent edges.
“Marijuana may increase positive affect, which in turn could reduce the likelihood of conflict and aggression,” the authors wrote. But they also reported “chronic [marijuana] users exhibit blunted emotional reaction to threat stimuli, which may also decrease the likelihood of aggressive behavior.”
What makes the study even more significant is the source of some of the funding behind it: the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This federal anti-drug agency has long stood in the way of almost every attempt to study the benefits of cannabis.
NIDA has traditionally prevented research by prohibiting access to the only marijuana crop that’s legal at the federal level. This study marks a departure from that stance.
That could reflect a growing tolerance within the federal government for weed reform. President Obama said earlier this year that he believes pot is no more dangerous than alcohol.
And though various federal officials still vigorously oppose legalization, even some in anti-drug agencies are starting to loosen up a little. The DEA, for example, is drastically increasing the amount of weed grown at the NIDA farm for research, even though that agency’s chief publically rebuked the president for his comments.