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John "Jack" Razumich
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Understanding the Criminal Justice System

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Marijuana, Violence, & Crime: Is There a Link?

Many of us have a stereotypical view of people who use marijuana as chill slackers. If you’ve seen the movie The Big Lebowski, you may think that pot smokers are like “the Dude” and “the Dude abides,” he doesn’t get violent. But research shows that the stoner movie stereotype doesn’t hold true in real life. Marijuana use may make you more violent and more likely to commit a crime. Researchers have long debated a link between marijuana use and violence. A 2016 Cambridge study titled “Continuity of cannabis use and violent offending over the life course” directly addressed this.

Cannabis and Violence

Past research has linked marijuana, increased aggression, delinquency, and psychological disorders, explaining that cannabis inhibits the part of the brain that controls impulsive behavior and self-control. Moreover, long-term marijuana use in teens can change brain development and increase the risk of schizophrenia or psychosis. However, it’s difficult for researchers to eliminate confounding variables that may affect marijuana research. Marijuana use may be linked to people with these behaviors or psychological disorders because of personality, socioeconomic status, family background, and education. Or people who commit crimes may be more likely to use pot, meaning marijuana and violence or crime may simply be associated rather than have a causal relationship.

In the Cambridge study, researchers followed 411 boys born around 1953 in working-class, urban neighborhoods of London. All the boys had two married parents, and 97% were white. Researchers considered many factors, including:

  • Antisocial traits,
  • Other drug use,
  • Alcohol use,
  • Cigarette smoking,
  • Mental illness, and
  • Family history.

Most of the study participants never used marijuana and never reported violent behavior. Thirty-eight percent of the participants admitted to using marijuana at least once in their lives, usually in their teens, and most stopped and never used it again. However, 20% of the participants who began using pot by age 18 continued to use it through their 30s or 40s.

One-fifth of the participants who used marijuana by 18 also reported violent behavior after they began using pot. Even when considering other factors in the statistical analysis for the study, cannabis use was the strongest predictor of violent convictions. The study’s authors suggested that marijuana use may alter neurological circuits that control impulsive, violent behavior in the prefrontal cortex.

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If you or someone you love faces criminal charges in Indiana, you need skilled legal help as soon as possible. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Razumich & Associates can help. Give us a call at 317-983-5333, email us at [email protected], or contact us through our website.

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