Toke Up For A Better Marriage? New Research Suggests Marijuana Use Could Reduce Incidents Of Domestic Violence

Chuck Bednar for – Your Universe Online
In a finding that could forever alter our perception of bonding with our significant others, researchers from the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions and Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) have discovered fewer incidents of domestic violence among married couples who smoke pot together.
The study, which appears in the August online edition of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, looked at the marijuana use of both husbands and wives and predicted the number of frequent intimate partner violence (IPV) incidents perpetrated by husbands. They found that those who used pot at least two or three times per month frequently reported the least-frequent number of IPV incidents.
According to Taryn Hillin of the Huffington Post, the Buffalo researchers, along with colleagues from Yale and Rutgers, recruited 634 couples applying for marriage licenses in New York between 1996 and 1999. After an initial interview, the authors followed the couples over a nine-year period using mail-in surveys to measure marijuana’s impact on domestic violence.
For the purposes of the study, incidents of domestic violence or IPV were defined as acts of physical aggression, such as slapping, hitting, beating and choking, Hillin said. The study authors measured incidents by asking couples to report violence committed by them or toward them in the last year, and at the end of the first year, they found that 37.1 percent of all husbands had committed acts of domestic violence against their wives.
Marijuana use was measured by asking participants how often they used marijuana over the last year, she added. They also asked the participants about other drug use, including alcohol, which they noted is often used in conjunction with marijuana. They suspected that, since alcohol and other substance abuse have been known to increase IPV rate, the same would be true with pot use. However, that was not the case.
Over the course of the first nine years of marriage, the researchers found that more frequent marijuana use by husbands and wives predicted less frequent incidents of intimate partner violence perpetration by husbands, and that the male’s marijuana use also predicted less frequent IPV perpetration by wives. Couples in which both spouses frequently used pot reported the least frequent domestic violence perpetration, and the link was most evident in women who did not have histories of prior antisocial behavior.
“These findings suggest that marijuana use is predictive of lower levels of aggression towards one’s partner in the following year,” lead investigator Dr. Kenneth Leonard, director of the UB Research Institute on Addictions, said in a statement. “As in other survey studies of marijuana and partner violence, our study examines patterns of marijuana use and the occurrence of violence within a year period. It does not examine whether using marijuana on a given day reduces the likelihood of violence at that time.”
“Although this study supports the perspective that marijuana does not increase, and may decrease, aggressive conflict, we would like to see research replicating these findings, and research examining day-to-day marijuana and alcohol use and the likelihood to IPV on the same day before drawing stronger conclusions,” he added. “While couples who reported marijuana use also reported less marital aggression, previous research with these couples found that couples who smoked marijuana were not less likely to divorce.”
The authors emphasize that while the findings are predictive, they do not necessarily indicate that there is a causal relationship between the two behaviors, said Washington Post reporter Christopher Ingraham. It could simply be that smoking pot makes couples happy, and therefore less likely to fight, or it could be that chronic cannabis use decreases the likelihood of aggressive behavior.
Dr. Leonard and his colleagues note that their paper “does not address the potential impact of parental marijuana use on children in the family and other problems associated with daily marijuana use.” Furthermore, it also does not explore other areas of marijuana use, including abuse, dependence and withdrawal – all of which could impact how spouses interact with one another, Ingraham noted.
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