Regular marijuana consumers or those who are addicted to weed are more likely to have social and financial problems in the near future than those who use cannabis only in some cases or not at all, according to the new medical cannabis research.
The recent research published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science does not evidently prove this statement, but its findings demonstrate a closer interdependence than any other study has before. The paper was based on data gathered from 1,000 participants from New Zealand.
The participants of the study were defined as regular smokers if they consumed marijuana four times per week or more over the course of several years. The findings have shown that these participants quite often experienced problems with credit ratings, debt level, and cash flow; some of them did not even have money for food and rent.
In addition, heavy smokers also tended to exhibit antisocial behavior in the workplace, like arguing with co-workers and lying to their managers. Moreover, they were more inclined to express irritation and dissatisfaction in their personal life.
Regular marijuana consumers also ended up at a lower level of job specialty comparing to their parents who did not smoke cannabis. In contrast, those study participants who smoked weed irregularly appeared in a higher professional class than their parents.
These study findings are especially valuable because the researchers tried to control different confounding factors, like family history, class of origin, childhood behavior, participants' IQ, psychological problems, and motivation. For studying the influence of cannabis in this medical research, people consuming alcohol or other drugs were excluded from the study.
However, it is important to mention that the study results do not apply to new or occasional consumers of cannabis. Moreover, according to another large study, only 9 percent of marijuana users can potentially become addicted to weed. However, this number is also controversial, as some researchers argue that this level is higher, and others claim it is lower or not measured in the appropriate way.
According to Magdalena Cerdá, the author of this study, marijuana dependence is more linked to economic problems than alcohol abuse. Though the excessive use of cannabis and alcohol equally results in people's downward mobility and antisocial behavior, alcohol is undeniably more harmful to the people's health.
The New Zealand study participants showed the link between regular weed use and dependence at the level of 18%, which is higher than the United States' studies had revealed. Cerdá explains the difference in numbers with the fact that some people can smoke marijuana regularly without being addicted to it, while others become dependent without consuming heavily. Moreover, the U.S. numbers may increase with the legalization of marijuana in more American states, the researcher is sure.
However, not all studies agree with Cerdá's findings. For example, Wayne Hall, a researcher at the University of Queensland, argues that marijuana abuse is a marker of other risk factors leading to financial and social problems, like alcohol dependence is.
Another independent researcher Igor Grant from UC San Diego also controverts Cerdá's study. He says that not every person who began to use marijuana regularly became dependent on it, thus, there are probably some personality differences or psychological problems unrevealed yet that make people experience these problems.