Long-term, frequent cannabis smokers are more likely to be less successful financially and have poorer relationships than those who do not partake on a regular basis, according to a new study.
An international team of researchers led by Magdalena Cerda at the University of California, Davis, Health System, and Avshalom Caspi and Terrie Moffitt at Duke University, conducted the study by following children from birth to age 38, according to Eureka Alert.
Those who smoked cannabis four or more times per week for many years were found to end up “in a lower social class than their parents, with lower-paying, less skilled and less prestigious jobs” than non-frequent smokers. They also experienced “more financial, work-related and relationship difficulties, which worsened as the number of years of regular cannabis use progressed.”
"Our research does not support arguments for or against cannabis legalization," said Cerda, 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,” she continued.
Regular cannabis smokers were found to exhibit antisocial behaviors at work, which included stealing money or lying to get a job, Cerda said. Their relationships were found to involve violence with their partners.
The study accounted for differences in 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, but still found that long-term users continually had economic and social problems.
"These findings did not arise because cannabis users were prosecuted and had a criminal record," researcher Caspi, a psychologist with dual appointments at Duke University and the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London, said. "Even among cannabis users who were never convicted for a cannabis offense, we found that persistent and regular cannabis use was linked to economic and social problems."
The research comes after four states -- Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington -- and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana, Governing notes. Nineteen other states allow marijuana to be used for medicinal purposes.
As the legalization of marijuana grows nationwide, Cerda warns that it may cause problems similar to those created by alcohol.
"Alcohol is still a bigger problem than cannabis because alcohol use is more prevalent than cannabis use," she said, according to Eureka Alert. "But, as the legalization of cannabis increases around the world, the economic and social burden posed by regular cannabis use could increase as well."