Past research has shown that married couples who abuse alcohol or other substances are at a greater risk of divorce - one of the main reasons being that substance abuse leads to IPV. IPV stands for intimate partner violence and is defined as acts of physical aggression such as slapping, choking, beating, etc. However, a recent study published in the journal Psychology And Addictive Behaviour indicates that couples who use cannabis actually do the opposite, being less likely to engage in intimate partner violence.


The study was conducted by researchers from Yale University, Rutgers and the University of Buffalo. They recruited 634 volunteer couples in a three-year period, from 1996 to 1999, while they were applying for their marriage license in New York State. The couples needed to participate in an initial interview, and after that, they were monitored for nine years using mail-in surveys. The mail-in surveys were questionnaires measuring how often the couple used cannabis or other substances and how often the spouses engaged in the act of violence through the last year.

The study concludes that if one of the spouses uses cannabis more frequently, the perpetration of IPV acts by both spouses would be less frequent. At the lowest risk of partner violence were couples who both used cannabis frequently. Lead researcher Kenneth Leonard adds that the findings of this study count for a period of one year, meaning that the study doesn't examine the effect cannabis has on IPV on a given day.


To the average cannabis consumer these findings probably aren't a surprise due to the fact that cannabis is mostly used as a way to relax and unwind. However, it is known that alcohol and other substances cause domestic violence and that is why researchers hypothesized that cannabis would have the same effect. This latest study proves that hypothesis wrong.

Mr. Leonard suggests that spouses who use cannabis together have similar values and social circles which reduce the chance of conflict. The authors point out that another reason would be that chronic cannabis use blunts emotional reactions which decrease aggressive behaviour. Results aside, in 2013 the US National Institute on Drug Abuse appropriated nearly 2 million dollars for a four-year study that will assess whether cannabis use results in behaviour consistent with partner aggression. This and further research will hopefully deepen our understanding how cannabis affects our daily lives and psychology.

It should be noted that the authors of the research should be commended for writing up the results as there was a time where the researchers wouldn't have bothered due to cannabis legislation. We are living in exciting times where science helps.


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