Marijuana Lowers Risk of Domestic Violence

The use of alcohol significantly increases one’s likelihood of becoming either a perpetrator or a victim of a violent act, including acts of intimate partner violence.

As for cannabis use — that’s a different story.

In fact, according to a just-published study in the journal Psychology and Addictive Behaviors, couples who use pot are particularly unlikely to engage in intimate partner violence.

Investigators at Yale University, Rutgers, and the University of Buffalo assessed over 600 couples to determine whether husbands’ and wives’ pot use was predictive of domestic abuse at any time during the first nine years of marriage. Researchers reported: “In fully adjusted models, we found that more frequent marijuana use by husbands and wives predicted less frequent IPV (intimate partner violence) perpetration by husbands. Husbands’ marijuana use also predicted less frequent IPV perpetration by wives. Moderation analyses demonstrated that couples in which both spouses used marijuana frequently reported the least frequent IPV perpetration.”

Although investigators did note an association between wives’ marijuana use and their propensity for violence, this correlation only existed among women who possessed a past history of violence prior to marriage.

Investigators concluded, “These findings suggest there may be an overall inverse association between marijuana use and IPV perpetration in newly married couples.”

Their findings were not especially surprising. According to a previous study, published in January in the journal Addictive Behaviors, alcohol consumption — but not cannabis use — is often a factor in intimate partner violence. In that study, investigators at the University of Tennessee and Florida State assessed whether alcohol intoxication and/or cannabis use by college-age men in a current dating relationship was associated with increased odds of physical, sexual, or psychological aggression toward their partner over a 90-day period.

They reported: “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 increased. The odds of psychological aggression increased on heavy alcohol use days only.”

By contrast, authors determined that “marijuana use days did not increase the odds of any type of aggression.”

Nonetheless, in 2013, the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) appropriated nearly $2 million in funding for a four-year study to assess whether marijuana use “results in affective, cognitive, or behavioral effects consistent with partner aggression.”

Commenting on the latest findings, Dr. Mitch Earleywine, professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Albany and the author of the book Understanding Marijuana, said, “I commend these authors for writing up these results. There was a time when investigators with these data might not have bothered to write it up for fear that it would never appear in print (because it contradicts federal anti-marijuana sentiment). Times have really changed.”

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