While researchers have generally indicated that substance abusers are at a higher risk of deciding to file for divorce, a new study finds a positive outcome of marijuana use. According to the study, those who do light up cannabis are less likely to have instances of domestic violence, one of the leading causes of broken homes across the country.
While that is hardly a pro-marriage endorsement for marijuana use, it does tend to cut down on a specific cause that leads to divorce forms. Huffington Post detailed the research in a recent article. Researchers from Yale University, University of Buffalo and Rutgers, “recruited 634 couples from 1996 to 1999 while they were applying for a marriage license in New York State,” the news site noted. “After an initial interview, the researchers followed the couples over the course of nine years using mail-in surveys to measure the effects of marijuana use on intimate partner violence (IPV).”
What They Found
To fully understand what they found, we’ll first have to define IPV. According to the study, it is “acts of physical aggression, such as slapping, hitting, beating and choking,” and it was gauged through a Q&A with the couples themselves over a one-year period.
More from HuffPo:
At the end of the first year, 37.1 percent of husbands had committed acts of domestic violence.
Marijuana use was measured by asking participants how often they used marijuana or hashish (defined as pot, weed, reefer, hash, hash oil or grass) in the last year. Participants were also asked about other drug use including alcohol, because, as the researchers explain the study, marijuana and alcohol are often used in conjunction.
What the researchers found surprised them: due to the fact that alcohol and other substances are known to increase domestic violence, they hypothesized that marijuana use would have the same effect. But that was not the case.
“More frequent marijuana use generally predicted less frequent IPV for both men and women over the first 9 years of marriage,” the researchers wrote. Not only that, couples who both used marijuana frequently — compared to one spouse using it more than the other — had the lowest risk for partner violence.
Why Marijuana Is Different
Researchers theorize that marijuana has a different effect than other substances because of “positive side effects” reducing conflict and aggression. They point out that previous research has found chronic marijuana use to dull emotional responses, which can easily morph in to behaviors that lead to domestic violence.
Again, it’s important to note that the research isn’t saying marijuana will reduce the odds of you or your spouse filing divorce papers at some point; just that you’re less likely to have a physically and/or emotionally abusive relationship.