New research that examined incidences of domestic violence supports the view that marijuana use by couples decreases the likelihood of intimate partner violence.
The study, based on tracking 634 couples, was conducted by researchers at the University at Buffalo. The findings appear in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.
Looking at couples over the first nine years of marriage, study author Philip H. Smith found:
- More frequent marijuana use by husbands and wives (two-to-three times per month or more often) predicted less frequent intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration by husbands.
- The husbands’ marijuana use also predicted less frequent IPV perpetration by wives.
- Couples in which both spouses used marijuana frequently reported the least frequent IPV perpetration.
“These findings suggest that marijuana use is predictive of lower levels of aggression towards one’s partner in the following year,” said co-researcher Kenneth Leonard. “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.”
Leonard noted that it was possible that – similar to a drinking partnership – couples who use marijuana together may share similar values and social circles, and it is this similarity that is responsible for reducing the likelihood of conflict.
“Although this study supports the perspective that marijuana does not increase, and may decrease, aggressive conflict,” he concluded, “we would like to see research replicating these findings… before drawing stronger conclusions.”
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