Marijuana studies: Dope-smoking domestic partners are peaceful; pot also linked to fewer overdoses

Cannabis is a much-studied topic

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Marijuana is a hot news topic. There continue to be spin-off stories about legalization in Colorado and Washington and about the growing medical use of cannabis. It seems like there are new studies out every week. Here are two that caught our eye to DecodeDC, and you could put the results in the pro-marijuana category.

Researchers from two studies released recently found that marijuana is benefiting Americans in some pretty unlikely ways.

At the University of Buffalo, researchers announced last week that domestic violence among married couples occurred far less frequently when the partners smoked marijuana. It makes some sense when you consider the drug’s mellowing quality.

But lead researcher Kenneth Leonard emphasized the social dynamic associated with marijuana rather than the drug itself. “It is possible, for example, that — similar to a drinking partnership — couples who use marijuana together may share similar values and social circles, and it is this similarity that is responsible for reducing the likelihood of conflict,” Leonard said.

The study looked at 643 couples during the first nine years of marriage. In relationships where either the husband or wife used marijuana two to three times per month or more, there were less frequent instances of domestic abuse. Not surprisingly, the same went for couples where both partners used the drug. The study concluded that the more often couples smoked marijuana, the less likely they were to engage in violence against one another. (It still makes you wonder if the mellowing effect isn’t having an impact. Rather than the more the merrier, it would seem to be the more the mellower.)

Further down the East Coast, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins University and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center announced that states that legalized medical marijuana faced fewer prescription pain medication overdoses. Specifically, they found that overdoses from prescription drugs were 25 percent lower in states that legalized medical marijuana than in states where the drug remains illegal.

The study suggests that people in states where medical marijuana is legal may be choosing to use cannabis instead of prescription opioids and are therefore less likely to overdose on prescription medicine.

“As our awareness of the addiction and overdose risks associated with use of opioid painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin grows,” said Colleen L. Barry, of JHU and senior author of the study, “ individuals with chronic pain and their medical providers may be opting to treat pain entirely or in part with medical marijuana, in states where this is legal.”

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