October Can Shed Light on the Role of Drugs Like Pot in Domestic Violence
Few people dispute that alcohol contributes to domestic violence. They probably don’t flinch if you say methamphetamine is a cause. But they viciously attack anyone who blames the sacred marijuana plant.
A number of violent marijuana users have been in the news lately.
A 14-year-old boy who killed his father and injured three others at a South Carolina school came from a home with both domestic violence and pot. (A report shows his father had convictions for marijuana and domestic violence.) Perhaps Jesse Osborne’s attack on his dad and others is a reflection of the trauma his dad — a pot user — had inflicted upon him and his mother. Jesse had been asked to leave school for bringing a hatchet there.
Despite widespread denial among pot users, the following studies show a strong connection between marijuana and domestic violence. (October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.)
Effects of marijuana use on impulsivity and hostility in daily life, by Emily B. Ansell, Holly B. Laws, Michael J. Roche, Rajita Sinha, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 148 (2015) 136-142. January 6, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep. 2014.12.029/ (Study of 43 subject found marijuana, but not alcohol, use increased interpersonal hostility and impulsivity in daily life, day of use and next day, Smartphone assessments)
The Relationship Between Marijuana Use and Intimate Partner Violence in a Nationally Representative, Longitudinal Sample,” by Jennifer M. Reingle, Stephanie A.S. Staras, Wesley G. Jennings, Jennifer Branchini, Mildred M. Maldonado-Molina, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, May, 2012. (Consistent use of marijuana during adolescence was predictive of committing intimate partner violence in early adulthood and being a victim, 2 x more likely. Sample of 9,400)
Examining the relationship between marijuana use, medical marijuana dispensaries, and abusive and neglectful parenting, by Bridget Freishler, Paul J. Gruenewald, Jennifer Price Wolf, Child Abuse & Neglect (2015) http://dx.doi.org/10/1016/j.chiabu.2015.07/008/ (Telephone survey of 3,023 in California cities concludes current marijuana use correlates to child physical abuse but not neglect, abuse more widespread closer to dispensaries.)
Alcohol and drug disorders among physically abusive and neglectful parents in a community-based sample, by K Kelleher, M Chaffin, J Hollenberg, and E Fischer. American Journal of Public Health, 84 (10) pp. 1586–1590, (11,000 people with substance abuse problems: abuse-3x more likely, neglect-4x. Substance abuse is involved in 50-80% of child abuse according to this study.) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1615078/
Violent Behavior as Related to Marijuana and Other Drugs, by Albert Friedman, Kimberly Glassman, Arlene Terras, Journal of Addictive Diseases, Vol 20(1), 2001,pp. 49-72. (Marijuana users nearly as likely to engage in violent behaviors as crack users)
As a nation, we are turning a blind eye to the damage marijuana users may present to women and children. We need to stop underestimating the poor judgment and the warped sense of time that marijuana users have, which often combined with fires and hot cars, have been lethal.
The Need to Stop Multigenerational Violence and Substance Abuse
For groups advocating to stop violence against women, it’s recommended that “marijuana use should be considered as a target of early intimate partner violence intervention and treatment programming.” Treating problems at their source is best.
We also must do this to avoid child abuse, because studies show that “abused children are at special risk to become heavy pot users in adolescence. ” from Characteristics of Child Maltreatment and Adolescent marijuana Use: A Prospective Study, by Howard Dubowitz, Richard Thompson, Amelia M. Arria, Diana English, Richard Metzger and Jonathan Kotch, Child Maltreatment.
The Emerald Triangle of Northern California is a reflection of a society with widespread acceptance of marijuana use. There’s multi-generational drug abuse woven into to the culture, and with it comes addiction and violence.
Prevent Child Abuse America was formed in 1974 and has made little progress. We’ll only make progress if we make progress with “the war on drugs,” which Drug Policy Alliance mocks and calls a failure. The alternative is chronic drug abuse and family violence which gives the drug abusers their freedoms but at what cost? Consider some recent events in Pennsylvania: a man killed his 5-month old daughter while high on marijuana. In April, a mother who smoked throughout pregnancy smothered her three-week old daughter who died through asphyxiation. She admitted to smoking marijuana which made her fall asleep with the daughter in her arms.
A case that happened in West Virginia on October 3 is even more shocking. At 4:30 a.m., a mother awoke to find her baby covered in blood in the basement with her boyfriend. The man had sexually assaulted the baby who was brain dead. It turns out that both she and the boyfriend had smoked pot the previous night. Under the influence of both marijuana and alcohol, he had a psychotic break.
Instead of arguing that another drug or that alcohol creates more domestic violence, we need to acknowledge that all drug use in interconnected. Multi-substance abuse is the rule rather than an exception. Marijuana, however, is most likely to contribute to psychosis, as described above or in other brutal murders.