Is smoking pot safer than drinking?
That's the question that's dogged researchers for several decades running now. Hundreds of studies have been conducted over the years, approaching the question from various angles. But as Trace Dominguez reports in this DNews special, recent findings are pretty conclusive: From a long-term socioeconomic standpoint, marijuana is no safer than alcohol.
The study followed more than 1,000 people from birth to age 38, and was designed to compare longtime marijuana use with longtime alcohol use. It's important to note that the research focused on socioeconomic factors, rather than medical.
Not to harsh your buzz, but here goes:
According to the new study, from the University of California-Davis and Duke University: "People who smoked cannabis four or more days of the week over many years ended up in a lower social class than their parents, with lower-paying, less skilled and less prestigious jobs than those who were not regular cannabis smokers."
RELATED: Does Eating Pot Make You Higher Than Smoking It?
As with any study of this scale, quite a lot depends on how you define your terms.
For the purposes of the study, heavy cannabis users were defined as those who smoked up four or more days per week, over several years.
Then the researchers ran the numbers through a battery of factors to determine relative socioeconomic success. On the checklist, among other things: credit rating, debt, net worth, employment information, childhood IQ, even traffic violations. These guys thought of everything.
The interesting twist is that the study suggests a definite correlation between heavy marijuana use and an objective decline in socioeconomic status. After correcting for all the other variables they could think of, the researchers found that serious stoners do tend to experience downward class mobility.
As such, the study concludes that heavy use of pot does not cause less harm than heavy alcohol use – at least, when it comes to long-term social and economic well-being.
"Regardless of how we looked at the relationship between persistent, regular cannabis use and economic and social problems, we got the same results," writes lead author Magdalena Cerdá in the research summary.
National Library of Medicine: Racial and Social Class Differences in How Parents Respond to Inadequate Achievement: Consequences for Children's Future Achievement
Science Alert: Extensive twin study finds no link between marijuana use and IQ decline in teens
CBS: Seniors and marijuana