Study Rebuttal: It Is All About Cause And Effect
2 min

Study Rebuttal: It Is All About Cause And Effect

2 min

When it comes to cannabis, moderation is key. That is why it is no surprise to hear that over indulging in cannabis can cause problems later in life – like with most things. So what is the cause?

Recently, research found that those who use cannabis on a heavy and regular basis were much more likely to end up in a worse socioeconomic position later in life. Basically meaning those who hit the blunt all day every day were likely to have a bad job, less money, and less prestige when they hit middle age.

It is an interesting study, and one of the first to look at the more social aspects of cannabis use rather than ones of health. Of course, these findings are not gospel; there are many doctors, lawyers, architects, journalists, business owners, and other “prestigious” go-getters who all smoke pot on a regular basis, and who smoked heavily during their earlier years. However, the insight here is certainly fascinating.


Published in the in the journal Clinical Psychological Science[1], this research followed children throughout their lives all the way to the age of 38. It was found that those who smoked four or more days a week over a period of years were likely to end up in a lower social class than their parents. Ending up with lower paid, less skilled jobs than those who don't some, or smoke as much. They also were more likely to encounter work-related, financial and relationship problems.

It is worth noting, the study is quite subjective, and relies on the self-reported accounts of the participants.


While the results are unlikely to spur much enthusiasm from regular smokers, they do raise a lot of questions. While not necessarily wrong, they don’t really assess why – the underlying cause. It is possible to use cannabis and be completely functional – leading a “healthy” lifestyle. So, what could explain these results. There are more likely to be underlying issues here.

One is the illegal nature of cannabis. While the research states that even those without a criminal record still appeared to suffer, it does not account for the other factors influenced by the law, such as the social ramifications those perceived to go against it. For example, even in places where it is legal, there are few laws protecting cannabis users. It is easy to lose your job on the spot when an employer knows you smoke weed. It is also easy to be denied various financial applications, turned out of a house by a landlord, or become shunned by other, all because of the stigma that goes hand in hand with cannabis. While not everyone who ends up in a worse position has gone through this, there is no doubt that cannabis use, and being associated with it, puts up barriers.

Those who do end up in prison or with a criminal record will be even worse off, as having a criminal record makes it nearly impossible to find a decent job. The persecution of non-violent drug offenders has ruined the prospects of millions.

There is also the possibility that it is behaviour vulnerable to dependency that is to blame, more than marijuana itself. Maybe it is not the cannabis use, but the underlying need for a coping mechanism that is causing people to underachieve. Cannabis is not a physiologically addictive substance; any addiction caused through the use of cannabis is psychological dependence, and some are prone to it more than others. Relying on a substance to the point where it begins to define you – any substance – is unhealthy.

Fortunately, for the vast majority of cannabis users, it is not something that defines them. For any life to be healthy, it needs balance. Someone who gets drunk every day is going to have a hard time holding down a decent job, as well as maintaining healthy relationships with those around them. If cannabis becomes a coping mechanism, then no, its use will not be good in the long run; being defined by a substance, instead of enjoying it, is never a good thing. This research isn’t wrong, it just ignores the possibly cause and effect, simply finding a correlation between heavy cannabis use and an unbalanced life. Well, we say no shit.



Written by: Josh
Writer, psychonaut and cannabis aficionado, Josh is Zamnesia’s in-house expert. He spends his days nestled out in the countryside, delving into the hidden depths of all things psychoactive in nature.

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Luke Sumpter
Luke Sumpter
With a BSc (Hons) degree in Clinical Health Sciences and a passion for growing plants, Luke Sumpter has worked as a professional journalist and writer at the intersection of cannabis and science for the past 7 years.
We are not making medical claims. This article has been written for informational purposes only, and is based on research published by other externals sources.

External Resources:
  1. Persistent cannabis dependence and alcohol dependence represent risks for midlife economic and social problems: A longitudinal cohort study. - PubMed - NCBI -
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