Regular use of marijuana has been tied to social and monetary issues during midlife.
A new study reveals: Middle-aged adults who’ve used marijuana for a long time may find themselves with lower paying, less skilled and less prestigious jobs.
These people may also suffer more money problems and have more difficulties with both work and personal relationships than their peers who did not use marijuana. Some specific problems longtime marijuana users experience are, among others, antisocial behaviors at work, such as stealing money or lying to get a job, and intimate partner violence.
The economic and social problems experienced by regular, persistent cannabis users are not due to other, pre-existing characteristics of cannabis users,” said lead researcher Magdalena Cerda.
To track the effect of marijuana use over the years, the researchers collected data on more than 1,000 children born in 1972-1973 in Dunedin, New Zealand. The study participants were followed for 40 years.
The researchers collected data on more than 900 of the participants who had at least three of five adult marijuana assessments from ages 18 through 38. Among these individuals, 18% were marijuana-dependent at at least one evaluation, and 15% were regular marijuana smokers at at least one assessment. The results in terms of social class, and work and relationship problems were the same for heavy users and those who were marijuana-dependent, the findings showed.
The study was published online in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.
Cerda who is an associate professor in the department of emergency medicine at the University of California, Davis said preventing regular marijuana use, and early treatment of people who are dependent on the drug, may reduce the burden that users pose to their families, communities and the social welfare system.
We need to be aware that persistent heavy cannabis use may have consequences for how well people do in life, how they perform and function at work and in relationships with others,” she said.
We also found that both cannabis and alcohol dependence similarly predicted declines in social class, antisocial behavior in the workplace and relationship conflict,” Cerda said.
In terms of financial troubles, marijuana was found to be worse than alcohol.
Participants who were dependent on cannabis experienced more financial difficulties than those who were dependent on alcohol. So, the idea that cannabis is somehow safer than alcohol was not supported in our study,” Cerda said.
For now, alcohol is a more common problem than marijuana, she said. However, if marijuana becomes legal in more places, economic and social harm related to regular cannabis use could increase.