Study: Persistent marijuana users experience downward socioeconomic mobility

An international team of researchers has released a study showing the negative effects of marijuana use on an individual's socioeconomic status:

[T]his study provides evidence that many persistent cannabis users experience downward socioeconomic mobility and a wide range of associated problems. Individuals with a longer history of cannabis dependence (or of regular cannabis use) were more likely to experience financial difficulties, including having troubles with debt and cash flow (such as defaulting on a credit card payment or missing a loan payment), difficulty paying basic expenses (such as food and rent), food insecurity, being on welfare, and having a lower consumer credit rating. Persistent cannabis dependence (and regular cannabis use) was also associated with antisocial behavior in the workplace and higher rates of intimate relationship conflict, including physical violence and controlling abuse. The results are consistent with findings from studies that have shown that cannabis was associated with reduced income and education, increased welfare dependence, crime, and lower relationship satisfaction.

The study also took specific aim at an erroneous New York Times editorial from January 2014, with the research group stating that "[c]annabis dependence was more strongly linked to financial difficulties than was alcohol dependence[.] ... This finding stands in contrast to popular and expert opinion [as expressed in the NYT editorial], which states that heavy alcohol use imposes more economic and social costs than does heavy cannabis use."

These results are yet more evidence that arguments for legalizing marijuana are founded on faulty assumptions and a failure to internalize societal costs of the drug's use.  While many legalization proponents point to modest tax revenues from the regulation of marijuana sales, a growing body of scientific studies points to negative externalities from the drug that will undoubtedly offset any government revenue streams.  As noted by the researchers, "[o]ur data indicate that persistent cannabis users constitute a burden on families, communities, and national social-welfare systems."

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