Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious and often fatal public health problem.
IPV includes psychological, physical, and sexual aggression. It presents through verbal and emotional profanity or cruelty, and acts of physical aggression such as slapping, hitting, beating and choking. Not surprisingly, victims of IPV experience numerous negative consequences including depression, anxiety, increased substance use, physical injuries, suicidal ideation, and in the most severe cases, death.
While research has found that substance abuse - particularly alcohol, is a primary risk factor and cause of IPV, - there is a growing body of research demonstrating that marijuana use is positively associated with both psychological, verbal, physical, and sexual IPV perpetration.
● A mother gets an Order of Protection against her son and evicts him from her house for the high level
of emotional and physical abuse inflicted on her when he smokes marijuana.
● A teenage girl's personality changes and she becomes violent and abusive to her boyfriend
when she smokes marijuana.
● Davie Dauzat, who beheaded his wife, was smoking pot with his wife before he killed her.
● Zachary Ham killed his girlfriend, and then committed suicide. THC was the only drug found in his
system when he murdered her.
● "At night my husband and I would smoke pot. It usually ended up with him beating up on me, or
tearing up the house. We had scene after scene in that living room… at age 30 I attempted suicide."
One major study found that even after controlling for alcohol use, antisocial personality symptoms, relationship satisfaction, and all known risk factors for IPV, findings demonstrated that marijuana use was positively and significantly associated with psychological, physical, and sexual IPV perpetration.
Another study showed a strong relationship between marijuana use and physical dating violence among teenagers and young adults. Findings suggest that marijuana use is associated with a 54% increase in the odds of PDV victimization, and a 45% increase in the odds of perpetration, and the marijuana use-dating violence link is strongest among adolescent girls.
Another study showed that consistent marijuana use in adolescence is a strong predictor of intimate partner violence for those who are both victims and perpetrators, independent of alcohol use and other factors. (These findings are consistent with prior studies, which have found that any marijuana use is predictive of victimization and physical assault by their intimate partners.)
Another study over a 50 year period found a causal link between cannabis and subsequent violent behavior as a direct result of changes in brain function that are caused by use over many years with the neuroscientists concluding "Together, the results of this study provide support for a causal relationship between exposure to cannabis and subsequent violent outcomes across a major part of the lifespan." They found that 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 life-time of the study was the strongest predictor of violent convictions, even when the other factors that contribute to violent behavior were considered.
Other researchers found that 53% of their sample of men arrested for domestic violence reported past year marijuana use.
Not surprisingly, use of marijuana - and especially simultaneous use of alcohol and marijuana produces greater impairment, disinhibition, and risk-taking. Drugs, including marijuana, can affect emotional lability including fear, anxiety, panic or paranoia, and can increase anger and rage. Of course marijuana can and does impair judgment and behavior.
(1) "Marijuana Use And Physical Dating Violence Among Adolescents and Emerging Adults: A Systematic Review And Meta-Analysis", Renee Johnson, Michael LaValley, Kristin E. Schneider, Rashelle J. Musci, Kayley Pettoruto, Emily F. Rothman, Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence May 2017, National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and the U.S. Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.
(2) "Marijuana Use Increases Violent Behavior", Tabea Schoeler (Neuroscientist - lead author), Psychology Today, March, 2016.
(3) "The Relationship Between Marijuana Use and Intimate Partner Violence in a Nationally Representative, Longitudinal Sample", Reingle,Staras, Jennings, Branchini, Maldonado-Molina, The Journal of Interpersonal Violence, May 2012.