Does Cannabis Make People More Violent? – A New Study Says Yes

Today I am tackling the topic of cannabis violence, as has been reportedly noted as a risk factor to prolonged marijuana use. This claim was made in this article published in Drew Reports News.

Let’s delve into this further.

People who routinely smoke cannabis are nearly 3 times more likely to devote a violent offence as those who abstain from the drug, brand-new research has discovered.

Scientists involved in a landmark research study of almost 300,000 teenagers and young people think that over time, prolonged marijuana use exceptionally changes the brain, making the user less able to control their mood.

In addition, the research study discovered addicts may likewise experience withdrawal signs, making them irritable and vulnerable to snapping.

Psychiatrist Teacher Sir Robin Murray, a world-leading expert on the neurological effect of the drug, said the link in between marijuana usage and violence was a ‘neglected location’.

Commenting on the research study’s findings, he said: ‘This is not a surprise for those people who follow the clinical literature or see clients who greatly use marijuana.

‘ However, it may be a surprise to the many who think cannabis is a chill-out, anti-violence drug.’

https://www.drewreportsnews.com/2020/06/06/individuals-who-routinely-smoke-cannabis-are-almost-3-times-more-likely-to-be-violent/

To be perfectly honest, the first thing that comes to mind when I see read the first sentence is “Is that a drug correlation, or a class correlation?”. Marijuana is enjoyed by all classes, but the stresses (and how they manifest) are very different for each of them. For example, living in the suburbs or living in a more urbanized environment.

We will see where this goes, however.

Britain has been plagued by a succession of ruthless killings connected to marijuana recently.

In some of the cases, legal representatives have actually argued the criminals need to not be found guilty of murder due to the fact that they were experiencing psychosis, a psychological condition now comprehended to be exacerbated by smoking strong cannabis.

Among the killers was student Femi Nandap, who, in December 2015, stabbed public health professional Jeroen Ensink to death outside his home in North London.

Mr Ensink, 41, had actually popped out to publish cards revealing that his other half Nadja had given birth to their daughter.

Forensic psychiatrist Dr Samrat Sengupta, of Broadmoor Medical facility, informed the Old Bailey that the trainee’s heavy marijuana practice had activated a hereditary psychotic health problem.
Nandap, then 23, was given an indefinite hospital order after confessing murder on the grounds of lessened obligation.

Of course, we jump straight to Cannabis psychosis.

Ever since the Americans figured out that one of the easiest ways to demonize racial minorities was to prohibit marijuana (more on that in a later piece), every aspect of the marijuana marketplace was pushed underground. You know, like what happened when prohibition turned everyone onto Hooch and made that generation of gangsters filthy ritzy.

Either way, enriching criminal enterprises is only one consequence of drug prohibition. Another is the complete loss in the ability to control the quality of the products being sold in the marketplace. When it comes to other drugs (notably cocaine, and anything else that is fairly easy to alter), cutting agents are often a significant factor. For marijuana, though cutting and adultering can not ever entirely be eliminated as a factor (you just never know), such instances are much less likely due to the nature of the substance. There is no cutting anything else with marijuana that wouldn’t be relatively easily noticed.

Where quality control affects marijuana first off, is in the growing process. Grown indoors or outdoors, you can’t know what kinds of insecticides or herbicides were used on or near the plants (though, i’m sure that there is a taste factor). But more importantly, there are no restrictions (or incentives, really) to focus on less profitable strains of marijuana. That is, lower THC and higher (or more balanced) CBD strains that are more conducive to entry-level to intermediate users. Since the money is in ever more tolerant chronic cannabis users, the underground market caters exclusively to that.
Leaving new generations (or just new users in general) unknowingly jumping into the cannabis psychedelics pool at the deep end, at times without knowing that they are at risk for adverse mental effects.

Though the authorities love to sound the alarm about this NOW, the blame for these massive decades-long worldwide medical psychiatric experiments lies strictly at the foot of government officials. 

But, enough with the unintended consequences of past generational racism.

The researchers chose to take a look at 30 private research studies taking a look at the link in between marijuana usage and violence due to the fact that ‘the [scientific] literature has actually shown that cannabis usage may lead to violent behaviours and aggressiveness; however, this association has actually been irregular’– with some research studies revealing a relationship and others not.

The group from Montreal University in Canada found 26 of the 30 research studies revealed a propensity towards greater levels of violence amongst cannabis users.

When they pooled the outcomes– implying they were taking a look at a combined group of 296,815 teenagers and grownups under 30– they discovered users were more than two times as most likely (2.15 times) to have actually dedicated a violent offence as non-users.

Among ‘consistent heavy users’, the risk of violence was 2.81 times higher.
Writing in the American Journal Of Psychiatry, they said: ‘This research study recommends that cannabis usage appears to be a contributing consider the perpetration of violence.’

Even when accounting for different life scenarios which may mean marijuana users were most likely to grow up in violent surroundings, they concluded that ‘the effect stayed substantial’.

Pointing out neurological research study, they stated cannabis use throughout adolescence ‘might trigger degeneration of neural structures related to inhibition and sensation-seeking’, including: ‘Such neural deficits are anticipated to restrict one’s capability to reduce the urge to act out strongly and heighten the danger of establishing antisocial behaviours in their adult years.’

That is the end of the article. But it works, as we have something to work with.

It isn’t the first time that marijuana use has been linked to violent tendencies. There is no shortage of studies on the topic to be found. The problem I am finding with many of them, however, in in the methodologies. Not how they are carried out, per se. More, in how marijuana is regarded simply as one monolithic blanket substance.

I understand why. When it comes to things like cocaine, heroin, amphetamines and other such substances, it is what it is. However, considering the diversity which is applicable to the marijuana plant in terms of potency (diversity which is currently not applicable due to federal law restraints in most locations), I find it difficult to find many of these studies as truly credible.

Indeed, call it bold of a no-name blogger to throw shade on the body of research of likely hundreds of qualified individuals. But none the less, humans can (and do) make mistakes. Though we all seem to be conditioned by society to think that career choice or job title somehow renders our human frailties as unapplicable, you would be surprised what you learn when you stop assuming.

Take this exert from a blog post titled Marijuana Use May Increase Violent Behaviour (50-year study finds possible link between cannabis and later violence), published on phychologytoday.com in March of 2016:

The sticky problem in such studies is the existence of many confounding factors involved in interpreting the correlation.  It is very difficult to determine whether any statistical correlation between marijuana use and violent behavior represents a causal link or whether, instead, the two are associated through some other factor,s such as socioeconomic status, personality traits, or many other variables that are related to the propensity to use marijuana. 

Moreover, the causal relation between smoking pot and violent behavior could be in exactly the opposite direction.  That is, individuals who are involved in violence or who commit criminal offenses may also be people who are more open to using marijuana.  After all, marijuana is an illegal substance in most places, so people with antisocial personality traits and those with tendencies toward lawlessness may be the type of individuals inclined to be more open to obtaining and using the illegal substance. 

Not so, conclude neuroscientist Tabea Schoeler at Kings College London and her colleagues, “Together, the results of the present study provide support for a causal relationship between exposure to cannabis and subsequent violent outcomes across a major part of the lifespan.”  Let’s examine the evidence provided by this new study.

Before we go into the then-new study, I find myself asking the question . . . why “Not So”? On what exact basis is this hypothesis being grounded upon?

Let’s (hopefully) find out

What makes this new study more compelling than previous studies is that the researchers followed the same individuals for over 50 years from a young age to adulthood.  This is precisely what one needs to solve the chicken-or-egg riddle with respect to cannabis and violence:  Just look and see which one happens first.

The subjects were in the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development, comprised of 411 boys who were born around 1953 and living in working-class urban neighborhoods of London.  Ninety-seven percent of them were Caucasian, and all of them were raised in two-parent households.  The researchers took into consideration factors including antisocial traits as assessed by the Antisocial Personality Scale, alcohol use, other drug use, cigarette smoking, mental illnesses, and family history. 

Hers’s what they found:  Most of the participants never used cannabis and they were never reported to have violent behavior.  Thirty-eight percent of the participants did try cannabis at least once in their life.  Most of them experimented with cannabis in their teens, but then stopped using it.

However, 20% of the boys who started using pot by age 18 continued to use it through middle age (32-48 years).  One fifth of those who were pot smokers (22%) reported violent behavior that began after beginning to use cannabis, whereas only 0.3% reported violence before using weed.  Continued use of cannabis over the lifetime of the study was the strongest predictor of violent convictions, even when the other factors that contribute to violent behavior were considered in the statistical analysis. 

In conclusion, the results show that continued cannabis use is associated with a 7-fold greater odds for subsequent commission of violent crimes.  The level of risk is equivalent to the increased risk of lung cancer from smoking cigarettes over a similar duration (40 years). 

The authors suggest that impairments in neurological circuits controlling behavior may underlie impulsive, violent behavior, as a result of cannabis altering the normal neural functioning in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex.

 

It would seem that Tabea Schoeler answers the question, as there does seem to be a solid cohort of individuals seemingly afflicted by their prolonged cannabis use. But at the same time, I again find myself being confronted by the definition of cannabis. Though it is not considered (as it likely is view as unimportant), cannabis strength is VERY important in this picture. As is availability.

First of all, availability. Whilst having alcohol and tobacco under lock and key does not ensure that no minors will EVER procure such substances, the barrier helps.
And when it comes to the definition of cannabis, I have to wonder what the journey would have looked like in a world with more controlled cannabis production and retail. For example, if cannabinoids like CBD (which are often absent from modern strains) would play a role in this picture. Would we be finding that Cannabis = Violent Tendencies had we not forced generations of people into jumping into the deep end?

In closing, does cannabis ignite violent tendencies in people? It would appear that the answer is yes.

However, that comes across as a very problematic answer. A conclusion that appears to overlook an incredibly important detail.

 

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