Heavy Pot Use Tied to Midlife Social, Money Issues
But one marijuana advocate believes people who already have problems may often turn to the drug
By Steven Reinberg
WEDNESDAY, March 23, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Middle-aged adults who've smoked a lot of pot for a long time may find themselves with lower paying, less skilled and less prestigious jobs, a new study finds.
These people may also suffer more money problems and have more difficulties with both work and personal relationships than their non-marijuana-smoking peers, the researchers added.
Some specific problems longtime heavy pot users experience include antisocial behaviors at work, such as stealing money or lying to get a job, and intimate partner violence, the study authors said.
"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. She is an associate professor in the department of emergency medicine at the University of California, Davis.
But one marijuana proponent noted that the study doesn't prove that heavy pot smoking causes economic and social woes, only that it may be associated with these problems.
Cerda 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 worse than alcohol, she said.
"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, as marijuana becomes legal in more places, "the economic and social burden posed by regular cannabis use could increase," she suggested.
To trace the effect of marijuana over years of use, Cerda and her colleagues collected data on more than 1,000 children born in 1972-1973 in Dunedin, New Zealand. The study participants were followed for 40 years.