The majority of people including public health researchers are in agreement that marijuana is generally less harmful than alcohol. Alcohol is the most liberally used drug or psychoactive substance since the earliest times. Even though it is a legal, booze causes just as many injurious effects, if not more, as most drugs, particularly including its ill-fated social effects.
The high rate of car accidents due to the consumption of alcohol keeps this substance at the forefront as a much more dreadful enemy of society than marijuana. Numerous studies have continually shown that alcohol consumption makes people more aggressive and is a contributing factor to nearly 40% of today’s violent crimes.
Since this has been determined, the attention now focuses on any possible connection between aggression and the use of marijuana. People who smoke marijuana are often quick to note its relaxing effects. This has even led to the development of stereotype, defining the typical pot smoker as a generally chilled out individual.
However, the current available data suggests that the link between aggression and marijuana use is a little bit complicated. This drug overall makes people more relaxed but it can also lead to increased levels of irritability, with possible panic and anxiety attacks. Some pot smokers can commit crimes when they lose their inhibitions or experience hallucinations. Several reports from Colorado are testament to the possibility of some of these effects.
In this regard, a Netherlands study that was published in the Journal of psychopharmacology sought to provide some answers through an interesting control experiment. The trial involved 20 heavy alcohol consumers, 21 heavy pot consumers and 20 control subjects (Non-heavy users of both drugs). For the purpose of the experiment, heavy alcohol users comprised of those who consume more than 3 drinks (men) and 2 drinks (women) per day while heavy marijuana users smoke at least thrice a week.
The researchers got the 20 heavy alcohol consumers to drink to the point where their blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.08, which happens to be the impairment threshold standard. For the heavy marijuana users, they employed a vaporizer to give them a pot dosage of 300 mg THC/Kg of each of the subjects’ body weight. As usual, the control subjects had the privilege of missing out on all the action as they had to remain sober.
The experiment subjects had to undergo a number of tests that were specifically designed to get them all riled up. They kicked off with the single category implicit association test. This test had them match words to pictures that depicted violent or aggressive activities such as kicking or punching. The words could either be negative or positive.
For the second test, the subjects took part in a computer game whose main gimmick was winning money by pressing certain buttons. The opponent in the game undermined the test subjects by taking the money from them. All the subjects were not aware that the opponent was AI controlled. The aggression of the subjects was measured before and after these tests.
The aggression test involved interviewing the subjects on how aggressive they were feeling at the time and rating the response on a 100 point aggression scale. A second separate control study was conducted a week later whereby the same test subject went through the entire process again. This time however, they were totally sober.
The results from this study are quite telling. The researchers discovered that the alcohol test group showed more aggression when they were drunk as compared to when they were not drunk. This observation was in high contrast to that of the marijuana group.
The marijuana test subjects were found to be actually less aggressive when high. These results encompass both the aggression level self-assessment ratings and the response to the two tests. The marijuana subjects were less aggressive to the AI adversary when high while the alcohol group exhibited the opposite.
These observations agree with other research. A 2014 study revealed that marijuana consumption and fewer domestic violence incidences were linked. Additionally, a notable test was administered to undergraduates in the 1980s. They were given various doses of marijuana and instructed to electrically shock individuals in a separate room. Interestingly, the higher the subjects were, the less likely they were to shock the other subjects.
As with any drug, marijuana can cause some adverse and unpredictable effects in people. However, this study adds evidences to the notion that marijuana use is not as hazardous as many people make it out to be.