Long-term marijuana use is linked with lowered economic status
Articles / Blog
05-11-16 Category: Advocacy, Research, Substance Abuse

Long-term marijuana use

People who smoke pot four or more days a week drop in social class, earn less money and lead lives nowhere near as satisfying as their parents or their marijuana-abstaining peers. To be blunt, chronic cannabis use keeps users broke. This article examines the socioeconomic repercussions from the endless bong hit.

From birth to 38

Researchers from the University of California at Davis and Duke University followed over 1,000 children in Dunedin, New Zealand, from birth to age 38. The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study through the University of Otaga tracked children born in 1972 and 1973. Researchers interviewed subjects every few years beginning at age three. Of the original number, researchers included results from 947 participants.

Examining the lives of participants at age 38, researchers found those who self-identified as cannabis-dependent were less upwardly mobile than their parents. Over half of participants from middle-class backgrounds experienced downward mobility compared to 14 percent of study participants who never used cannabis. Researchers concede alcohol remains a bigger social problem than cannabis, but with respect to the impact both substances have on finances, cannabis takes more of a toll.

Study limitations

Researchers did not explore the lives of participants past age 38. They admit it is entirely possible participants may experience reversals of fortune as they move into middle age.

Additionally, researchers admit that the illegality of marijuana in New Zealand may have a role in their findings. Social attitudes about cannabis can also affect how habitual users see themselves. Criminal charges and social stigma can alter the trajectory of an individual’s life and career. The researchers acknowledge that a longitudinal study conducted in an environment where the drug is legal may yield different results.

By way of example, In January 2014, Colorado recently relaxed its laws on marijuana. It is now legal by state law for an adult to possess small amounts of the drug. Some estimates project over $1 billion in added revenue by the end of 2016. In its 2015 economic business outlook, Leeds Business School at the University of Colorado projected the state’s gross domestic product to grow at a rate faster than the national average. The study indicates numerous marijuana-related businesses have sprouted post-legalization. While it is true the study does not drill down to the level of individual productivity, it does make a compelling argument that marijuana legalization has resulted in increased earnings overall.

Additional drawbacks of long-term cannabis use

The Dunedin study found that beside its economic effects, cannabis dependence co-occurs with other drug dependence. Nearly 70 percent of study participants who identified as cannabis-dependent were also dependent on alcohol (compared to just over 26 percent of participants who were not cannabis-dependent). Over 11 percent of the cannabis-dependent participants were also hooked on hard drugs (compared to less than 1 percent of noncannabis dependent participants).

Sovereign Health Group of California treats individuals whose lives have been turned upside down from cannabis dependence and addiction. Marijuana abuse can make an addict’s life unmanageable. Our drug addiction treatment program addresses the physical addiction and the underlying causes that fuel it. Contact our 24/7 helpline for more information.

About the author:

Darren Fraser is a content writer for Sovereign Health Group. He worked two and half years as reporter and researcher for The Yomiuri Shimbun until they realized he did not read, speak or write Japanese and fired him. Undeterred, he channels his love of research into unearthing stories that provide hope to those dealing with addiction and mental illness. Darren loves the Montreal Canadiens hockey club and horror films and would prefer to enjoy these from the comforts of his family’s farm in Quebec. For more information about this media, contact the author at news@sovhealth.com.

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