Heavy, persistent pot use linked to economic and social problems at midlife

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Cannabis indica. Credit: Wikipedia

A research study that followed children from birth up to age 38 has found that people who smoked cannabis four or more days of the week over many years ended up in a lower social class than their parents, with lower-paying, less skilled and less prestigious jobs than those who were not regular cannabis smokers. These regular and persistent users also experienced more financial, work-related and relationship difficulties, which worsened as the number of years of regular cannabis use progressed.

The study, conducted by an international team of researchers led by Magdalena Cerdá at the University of California, Davis, Health System, and Avshalom Caspi and Terrie Moffitt at Duke University, appears online in the journal Clinical Psychological Science March 23.

"Our research does not support arguments for or against legalization," said Cerdá, first author of the study and an epidemiologist at the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program. "But it does show that cannabis was not safe for the long-term users tracked in our study."

"Our study found that regular cannabis users experienced downward social mobility and more financial problems such as troubles with debt and cash flow than those who did not report such persistent use," she said. "Regular long-term users also had more antisocial behaviors at work, such as stealing money or lying to get a job, and experienced more relationship problems, such as intimate partner violence and controlling abuse."

The comprehensive study is important because it addresses an array of potentially confounding factors not included in past studies assessing cannabis' long-term effects on users, and it raises awareness of the consequences that persistent cannabis use poses to families, communities and national social welfare systems.

Economic and social problems persisted in long-term, regular users of pot even after the authors accounted for other potential differences between regular cannabis users and other study participants, including socioeconomic problems in childhood, lower IQ, antisocial behavior and depression in adolescence, higher levels of impulsivity, lower motivation to achieve, criminal conviction of cannabis users, and abuse of alcohol and hard drugs.

"These findings did not arise because cannabis users were prosecuted and had a criminal record," said Caspi, a psychologist with dual appointments at Duke University and the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London. "Even among who were never convicted for a cannabis offense, we found that persistent and regular cannabis use was linked to economic and social problems."

Heavy alcohol vs. cannabis use

While both heavy alcohol and cannabis use were similarly associated with declines in social class, antisocial behaviors in the work place and relationship problems, the authors found that those dependent on cannabis experienced more financial difficulties, such as paying for basic living expenses and food, than those who were alcohol dependent.

"Cannabis may be safer than alcohol for your health, but not for your finances," said Moffitt, a psychologist with dual appointments at Duke University and the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London.

The study only addressed the economic and social consequences of cannabis use. In this domain, they found that cannabis did not appear to be safe and may be just as harmful as alcohol.

"Alcohol is still a bigger problem than cannabis because alcohol use is more prevalent than cannabis use," Cerdá said. "But, as the legalization of cannabis increases around the world, the economic and social burden posed by regular cannabis use could increase as well."

The authors assessed the frequency and duration of cannabis use among participants in the long-term Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study - a four-decade project maintained by the University of Otago that has been following the development of a group of 1,037 children born in 1972-1973 in Dunedin, New Zealand from birth to age 38. The Dunedin study includes participants who represent the full range of socioeconomic status and health in the general population and have had follow-up examinations at ages 3, 5, 9, 11, 13, 15, 18, 21, 26, 32 and, most recently, at 38.

For the current study, the authors included 947 participants who had completed at least three of the five adult cannabis assessments from ages 18 through 38. They measured both persistence of cannabis dependence, as defined by the total number of study periods out of five that the participant met criteria for cannabis dependence, and persistence of regular cannabis use as the total number of study periods out of five that a participant used cannabis for four or more days per week.

Eighteen percent, or 173 participants, were considered marijuana dependent in at least one wave of the study, and 15 percent (140 participants) fell into the regular cannabis use categories, in at least one wave of the study. Results were similar for persistent cannabis dependence and persistent regular cannabis use. (See attached summary of research methodology or the paper for more details.)


Explore further

Cannabis use leaves society searching for answers

More information: "Persistent cannabis dependence and alcohol dependence represent risks for midlife economic and social problems: A longitudinal cohort study," Magdalena Cerdá, et al. Clinical Psychological Science, online, March 23.
Journal information: Clinical Psychological Science

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Citation: Heavy, persistent pot use linked to economic and social problems at midlife (2016, March 23) retrieved 16 June 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-03-heavy-persistent-pot-linked-economic.html
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Mar 23, 2016
I suspect the main reason that Marijuana users are impacted negatively are the social and legal ramifications. Said laws that are based not medical or realistic science but on ethnic and social bias. Any study is subject to the authors preconceived ideas and can be manipulated to prove what the authors wish to believe not what actually is correct. In short this study is more of a political justification than scientific proof .

EET
Mar 23, 2016
I guess myself and friend that I know that smoke must be the exception to the rule. All of us make very good livings, have long term relationships without abuse, we seem to be pretty stable both financially and emotionally, I guess we're the weird ones. Really, these studies are so obviously skewed to get the desired results that they are useless.

Mar 23, 2016
I and many of my friends have been smoking marijuana regularly for over 40 years, with down times dodging DOT testing. We are all very successful and a couple have already retired comfortably and are happily imbibing witrhout fear of drug test. Moree of us will follow shortly. It is disgusting that the Woodstock generation are now entering thier late 60's and 70's and still allow these known myths and falsehood about pot to prevail. Come on you old codgers, speak the truth! Vote the way you know is right! How on earth can cannibus still be a schedule 1 narcotic with heroin and LSD? Thats absurd, then thow out these bogus studies, what hath alcohol and cigarettes wrought.

Mar 23, 2016
There have been a couple of periods in my life where I have hung around with the bohemian set. All ways ended bad for me. My opinion is that those who do this on a regular basis tend to be of what the research concludes. Apart from the work aspect. They never are working. Despite the claims of mellowing out and the hippy-trippy-peace thing, is all rubbish. They are not nice people. They live like children.

Mar 23, 2016
Marijuana has no defects as they want us to believe. Researchers are Paid and Told what and not what to say Period.I agree with all the Post above only 3 plus mine.Well when you Drink Alcohol and Smoke that Camel and go for a Drive,You are most likely going to have a wreck and Kill the Victims that you Run into.Alcohol and Cigarettes are Legalized and Taxed and the Government and States Make Very Good Revenue From These Two. Now with Marijuana it is way Safer when you are Driving because you are more Aware Of Your Driving,And it Should Also be Legalized and Taxed and Of Course Regulated as with Alcohol and Cigarettes.The Reason I say they don't is that all the Companies From Alcohol to Insurance along with the Pharmacies.Will Lose Millions of Dollars. Because People will be able to Acquire it, And a lot of People will be Buying for Their Medical Needs. And the Other Majority will no Longer be Purchasing Alcohol as often. Then the others will be home eating Camel Toe, After Pizza.!

Mar 23, 2016
To Crass: Your bad grammar says it all. I've been using Marijuana for over forty years, yet I seem to write better than anti-Marijuana bigots like YOU.

This article is nothing but a pack of lies.

Mar 23, 2016
ok so yea, of those that where studied/surveyed, most where probably in a lower economic class. so lets look at reasons: most good jobs require a ua test in order to get the job, if you get hurt on the job you take another ua and,, since thc stays in the system for a longer period then the effects do if you smoked the night before and get hurt you loose your job even though you may not be under the influence and then it goes on you work record. in some sates if you get caught with it you go to jail/prison and then you are more unlikely to get a good job, with good pay. most of these studies where prob done among the working class who where struggling as it was, since day after day i see successful people admitting they smoke cannabis . why all this fuss against a plant that compliments your own endocannaboid system? it makes no sense to me just legalize it and, quit demonizing a plant based on paranoid bias created by misinformation. end the lie already

Mar 23, 2016
Also I would like to say that our Jails and Prisons wouldn't be as crowded. And that means less Money Housing Inmates as with Ruining a lot of Peoples Lives for something that has been around dating back to the 1800s.Was legal then made illegal. And a lot of States are Legalizing it.So why not make it Legal in all 50 States and Regulate and Tax it already. People should have the Choice to or not to. Just as with Alcohol and Cigarettes.You want to then fine,If not then Fine again. Think of the Money that this does Raise and the States and Government could benefit from this.Our Deficit is out the roof and this could help bring it back in Reach.and all this from a non Drinker or Smoker either way. Camel or Marijuana. It is time to get with the Times. Worry more about the Hard Drugs.

Mar 23, 2016
Well yeah, since it is ILLEGAL, pot users would be more likely to have an arrest record, which can make landing a good job impossible, not to mention a UA is likely required to get and keep that job... Socially, with it being illegal, society generally is going to look down on it. Who wants to be associated with someone doing something illegal? Also, when I think back to my HS days. The majority of the kids that were potheads were from the non-popular, non-excelling crowd before they started smoking. In other words, people don't generally change, and the pot made no diff either way on those types. If you are using ANY substance to feel better on a daily basis, there is a much deeper issue than the substance itself. I read somewhere that 85% of schizophrenics smoke cigarettes. Does that mean that cigarettes cause schizophrenia? Of course not, but if you use the logic imposed by "studies" such as this then yes, yes it does...

Mar 23, 2016
Quoted: "These regular and persistent users also experienced more financial, work-related and relationship difficulties, which worsened as the number of years of regular cannabis use progressed."

This is prob correct, however when you take into perspective that a tweaker can get drug tested, and come back clean in 24 hours, and a pot user cannot. Yeah, I'd expect they would have problems that could be work-related. When the work place condemns people to lose their job from what they do on "personal" time is just outrageous. This article is one sided, misinformed, and lacking data.

Mar 23, 2016
Another misleading article, for one, people who experience mental health issues tend to self medicate, whether it be alcohol, pot or anything else they can get their hands on.So you have eighteen percent, or 173 participants, were considered marijuana dependent in at least one wave of the study and 15 percent (140 participants) fell into the regular cannabis use categories, in at least one wave of the study.

If marijuana is such a big bad destroyer of mankind why aren't the percentages higher? So a small percentage of people who are heavily medicating themselves are not doing as well as people who are not so blame the medication.

Meanwhile ignore those who properly use these substances and create laws to penalize them. You could come to the same conclusions by studying people who over eat.

I don't know anything that can't be used or abused, we don't go back to the horse and buggy because of car accidents.

Mar 23, 2016
Tojuliez77strip
To Crass: Your bad grammar says it all. I've been using Marijuana for over forty years, yet I seem to write better than anti-Marijuana bigots like YOU.

This article is nothing but a pack of lies.


You do the typical reefer mad recital by deflecting from the topic, playing grammer Notsi and insulting people. But now we're talking about you, which is what you crave. Weed hasn't made you a nice person at all if you spend your time on the Web defending it.

Mar 23, 2016
FINALLY this site allows comments.
Med express is the dumbest propaganda site I have ever seen. The very first line is your clue. Prestigious? Dude, if you had left that word out you MAY have gotten a bit further. Your anti-cannabis efforts are going to fail Ted, George, Don, whoever is paying for this.
This would be about the 100th anti weed story from these clowns I've seen in the past year or two and they are INSANE!
"a new study shows weed makes your pee pee fall off"
"studies show weed makes you a terrorist"
Yes, I made those up BUT that is indicative of the crazy crap they've been writing. This is a propaganda site, no doubt in my mind.
Sorry guys, the sky is NOT going to fall and your pharmaceutical kick backs will end. We are sick and tired of living in a world where alcoholics are calling potheads the scourge of the planet. We are headed to real world idiocracy and you guys are driving the bus.

Mar 23, 2016
More propaganda from the prohibitionist era no science just bullsh!t

Mar 23, 2016
I would ALSO like to add, I am 50 years old, run my own business and I've been using Cannabis for more than half of my life. In 2003 I started pain management with dr prescribed opiates. RUINED MY LIFE.
In 2011 I woke up in ICU from the drug interactions with opiates and benzos (again dr prescribed), took another 3 years to recover from that.....
The most dangerous aspect of cannabis is the LAW! FU go to blazes.

Mar 23, 2016
I laugh at the generic reefer mad recital posted here, as everywhere else, too: "We are all functioning members of society, all doctors and lawyers, earning six figures!!! CAPS LOCK ON!!! So many rich and famous people smoke, but alcohol and alcohol is alcohol or alcohol and alcohol or alcohol Big Pharma weed cures cancer"
Well, all those rich people most likely drink, too, its not proven that pot made them rich and famous, and it suggests that alcohol isn't the evil.
Stoners obsess over alcohol and are paranoid about the evil government out to get them. Thats not normal.
Whats also not normal - and no better behavior than yer average alcohol - is weed addicts signing their own names under work contracts promising their employers that they will come to work sober, and yet failing drug tests, all the time, which typically ends in termination.

So much for "never met a stoner who steals pencils"

Mar 23, 2016
Bobalou - A friend told me recently, "just be patient it will happen. Look at the gays, they got their rights by being patient"
No, gays got their rights (deservedly so) by not shutting the F up. So you're going to "hear" this more and more until this retarded, unjustified and inhumane law is repealed...
BTW, "NOTZI" is spelled with an A.

Mar 23, 2016
Evidence of reefer madness:
- copious punctuation "!!!!"
- use of CAPS LOCK
- obsession over alcohol
- generic deflection, red herrings, strawperson arguments
- ad hominem attacks, insults, profanity
- playing grammer Notsi
-posting fantasies "cannabis cures cancer"
- claiming to earn 6 figures
- recital a la "Big Pharma is tricksy! Big Pharma is FALSE!!!! gollum GOLLUM !!!"
- claiming the government is an evil fascist totalitarian police state until it legalizes weed, then doing a full 180 and throwing ones money at it without question
- justification, rationalization: the government will offer free education! healthcare! rehab! housing! Anyone who disagrees is a PROHIBITIONIST XTIAN ALCOHOLIC!!"
- skulking around the Web, defending ones addiction. Not even alcoholics do that.

Mar 23, 2016
I laugh at the generic reefer mad recital posted here,

Why do you keep repeating "reefer mad recital"? I can do that too watch...
puppy marmalade coastline.
You're either an alcoholic tired of potheads drawing attention to your problem OR (caps lock wink wink) you're one of those high and mighty "I've never done anything" people OR maybe you're a writer for this blog and you are paid to stir it up a bit. (this isn't paranoia, it is an observation over the sheer stupidity in your thoughts.)
We are commenting on this article you see, and it mentions lifestyle and finances so we do too. Do you get it now? But just to make sure...Pharmaceutical companies DO pay millions (hundreds of them) to keep cannabis illegal, so does liquor, textiles and a hundred or so others. It's documented, admitted and no one seems to care. Cannabis DOES cure certain types of cancers and they are finding more and more on a weekly basis.

Mar 23, 2016
exmauler
Bobalou - gays...shutting the F up.. retarded, unjustified and inhumane
BTW, "NOTZI" is spelled with an A.

See, just like I said: reefer madness reveals itself as users obsess, deflect, use profanity, !!! and CAPS. I deliberately spelled "grammer Notsi" wrong but that went right over your head, and you fell for it, playing the grammer Notsi.
But, hey, so you allegedly earn six figures, never had a problem anywhere. I don't smoke, and I earn 7 figures. So whats better?
And, again, what about all those bored and boring masses who think smoking magically makes them all kewl and shwag, and they manage to fail a drug test and get fired from McDonalds and sit at home more often than not?
There are countless thousands of them, and they don't all go on to be doctors, lawyers and rock star millionaires. They're just bored and boring and no amount of addiction to anything will ever change that.

Mar 23, 2016
..and before some of you attack me with generic reefer mad insults and call me a Prohibitionist, I'm everything but.
If I were in charge, I'd legalize all drugs, and with the countless endless trillion$ I'd garner in drug tax revenues from all the functioning doctors and lawyers that you are, I'd open hospitals that treat drug addicts exclusively.
Say an uninsured stoner has an accident with an evil alcoholic. They both get sent to their own special hospitals, where they are treated by a staff that is allowed to be on whatever drugs they do while on the job. Its all good.
And when its time to sue each other over $$$ they each deserve as Victims of an uncaring society, the attorneys, judge and jury are all high, too. This assures they'll be doing the best job they can. Everyone will win, because drugs raise ones IQ, make people smart and interesting.


Mar 23, 2016
Extremely evident that Bobalou has no marijuana knowledge. Reading his posts makes you feel sorry for him but laugh, at the same time. I first smoked in 1967. Worked for the federal government for over 30 years and am comfortably retired, all while smoking marijuana. It's excellent for pain management and other afflictions.

Mar 23, 2016
I don't know what conversation he's having. Dude, your grammar natzi joke is only going to work with some context added so FAIL ( see, caps again, I should do the whole thing in caps huh?)
I never even eluded to my salary so FAIL
Your rhetoric is almost text book so your arguments are moot...so MOOT
I have never known anyone that smokes to be "kewl" as you say so PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
And considering the fact that some Doctors are ignorant to cannabis truth (my wife's cancer doc has never heard of Marinol...[btw, in the 70's Nixon added cannabis to schedule 1 with no medicinal value but in the 80's FDA approved Marinol, a synthetic THC drug that is still sold today] ) FAIL
And since a lot of lawyers prosecute based on laws that have ZERO justification and we know that, I guess our understanding of the law is greater than yours and your lawyer buddies so...FAIL again.
You have been reading directly from uncle sam's propaganda book and we all know it.
More please.

Mar 23, 2016
..and before some of you attack me with generic reefer mad insults

BTW dude, it's REEFER MADNESS not reefer mad. Your favorite movie or are you trying to project the illusion that you know what you're talking about?

Mar 23, 2016
All this BS rhetoric aside BabaBooey, answer us this...
Do humans have the right to use cannabis if they so choose? That's the only question that matters. It all boils down to human rights. That doesn't mean you have to understand or approve, it just seems that all laws have justifiable reasons for being, i.e. we know why murder, arson, theft, etc are illegal but there is not one sentence, not one paper, study or legal opinion to justify prohibition. Read the speech made by Harry Anslinger and then understand that by supporting prohibition you are supporting a racist agenda unlike any other.
Now, I am sure you're going to attack the racist angle and if you do I will know that you did not read Anslinger's insane drivel. (or you'll ignore this to prove me wrong, no matter). Google The Devil Weed and Harry J Anslinger and then google Francis L Young. THEN come back here and explain to everyone why Cannabis is so bad.

Mar 23, 2016
To Crass: Your bad grammar says it all. I've been using Marijuana for over forty years, yet I seem to write better than anti-Marijuana bigots like YOU.

This article is nothing but a pack of lies.


If I am an anti-marijuana bigot, its through experience of meeting people like you who think its great and anyone who smokes this shit is great. The cool in crowd if you will. You are just as bigoted as I am. But in the opposite direction.

Little sensitive arent we. Need to see the dealer??

To all the others who have posted, I have never met people like you claim to be. That is functional and under the influence. Good for you.

rjk
Mar 23, 2016
The way the system is built, most will be of lower socio-economic class. Professionals and business owners are about 30% of the population. There is no need or room for anymore. The other 70% are constantly abused financially and socially.
Potheads who were born in the 30% of ability and intelligence do just fine. The other 70% don't. Had they never smoked pot, they usually would still be just where they are.
Society will never change until we admit there's no room at the top for everybody. That everyone has different abilities and that people in the 70% did something morally wrong to get there. Of course that makes them anti-social.

Mar 23, 2016
Anti-pot propaganda with a <1000 person sample set aside, All of the nations in the world are currently experiencing the largest income equality gap since the great depression. The odds of any current generation ending up worse than their entitled baby-boomer-we-should-take-everything-and-leave-nothing-for-the-kids parents are basically 95%. The effects of a college education are lessened by the watering down of degrees, the automation of the unskilled-but-previously-well-paid-workforce that most parents were involved in is now almost complete, and you can't make a living wage working at just about anything. I can barely pay my bills and I'm in the top 80th percentile of income earners in the US. It's not the 2 grand a year I spend on pot that's doing it, I can tell you that. It would be less if it was legal and cheaper, I hear some places in Washington it's as cheap as 30 dollars an ounce. That's less than a night's drinking for many people I know.

Mar 23, 2016
More anti-pot propaganda from the morons trying to brainwash the public.

Mar 23, 2016
@SciTechdude I live in Washington and have never seen it that cheap. The cheapest ounces I've, not black market but at a store, is $180.00 an ounce. That's fairly standard around here.

Mar 23, 2016
I seriously doubt they were able to control for the fact that cannabis is illegal everywhere except a few US states and the country of Uruguay. The fact that regular cannabis users are likely to have been busted at least once and likely have anti-authoritarian personalities makes this a chicken and egg problem.

Mar 23, 2016
lol - Reefer Madness rides again! - Any economic or "relationship" problems cannabis consumers have are ALL due to 80 years of the world's largest propaganda/demonization campaign. - This is just like the evil bigots who created and maintain this insane war on millions of good citizens to blame the effects of their vicious war on their unfortunate victims.

SAMHSA research determined more than 100 million Americans have consumed marijuana. That's near HALF the of-age population. There are an estimated 30 to 50 million current consumers. The vast majority consume moderately - on the weekends or less, and are successful, hard-working, respected members of their communities. They are from all walks of life and loved by the families they support.

Since we now know marijuana is less "addictive" than coffee, and far less harmful than alcohol, this is no surprise.

Marijuana is as American as apple pie - and healthier.

Mar 23, 2016
"A research study that followed children from birth up to age 38 has found that people who smoked cannabis four or more days of the week over many years ended up in a lower social class than their parents, with lower-paying, less skilled and less prestigious jobs than those who were not regular cannabis smokers."

Oh no let's not blame the DRUG testing (that no scientist will stake their career on) which prevents us from getting better jobs or moving up. So the only jobs people who smoke 4 or more times a week can get are the ones that typically don't drug test, ergo less prestigious job, less money, less skill, lower social class and yes sometimes having to steal because they can't get hired at a job that pays enough. But hey that's a problem for a lot of people who don't smoke weed. I'm not saying you can't be in a great job and still burn, but If anything ever happens and your tested...BAM! You lose everything, all because some ignorant people have hang ups over weed.

Mar 23, 2016
Oh no let's not blame the DRUG testing (that no scientist will stake their career on) which prevents us from getting better jobs or moving up.

Stop making sense, you're confusing the retards.

Mar 23, 2016
more bullshit,they never factored in a damn thing of medical conditions.or surroundings..things they have more of an impact than smoking weed.

Mar 23, 2016
This article is a rehash of a study done many years ago. No new information here at all. However the the author of this article neglected to include that the study was easily debunked by Ole Rogeberg of the Oslo Institute who used other factors and came up with the same 8% IQ drop. Look it up.

Mar 28, 2016
Who is happier? LOL, it's all individual and how we can make it work, or not.

If someone is going to smoke pot, for recreation or to hide or whatever the heck, they won't give a fig about being lower economic status than their parents. Won't even enter the consciousness.

So, if this research is meant to dissuade potheads, okay. Good Luck with that!

Mar 28, 2016
This article is some serious propaganda....not only are the figures skewed but the whole idea of pot use dictating social dynamics is absurd. Keep suppressing the most sacred plant on this planet to subdue spiritual growth...just keep in mind that the human brain has cannabinoid receptors for A REASON!

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