Alcohol And Cocaine – But Not Cannabis – Linked To Violent Behavior, Study Says

Victoria, British Columbia: Cannabis use is not independently associated with causing violence, according to the results of a multivariate analysis to be published in the journal Addictive Behaviors.

Investigators at the University of Victoria, Centre for Addictions Research assessed how frequently subjects in a substance abuse treatment facility reported using cocaine, alcohol, and/or cannabis in the hours immediately prior to committing a violent act. Researchers also evaluated subjects’ personality for characteristics associated with violent behavior, such as risk-taking, impulsivity, and/or disrespect for the law.

Investigators concluded: “When analyses were conducted controlling for covariates, the frequency of alcohol and cocaine use was significantly related to violence, suggesting that pharmacological effects [of the drugs] may play a role in violence. Frequency of cannabis use, however, was not significantly related to violence when controlling for other factors.”

The study’s conclusions are similar to the findings of a pair of recent government reports refuting allegations that cannabis use triggers violent behavior. The first, published by the Canadian Senate in 2002, determined: “Cannabis use does not induce users to commit other forms of crime. Cannabis use does not increase aggressiveness or anti-social behavior.”

The second review, published by the British Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, reported: “Cannabis differs from alcohol in one major respect. It does not seem to increase risk-taking behavior. This means that cannabis rarely contributes to violence either to others or to oneself, whereas alcohol use is a major factor in deliberate self-harm, domestic accidents and violence.”

Most recently, a logistical regression analysis of approximately 900 trauma patients published in the Journal of TRAUMA Injury, Infection, and Critical Care, determined that the use of cannabis is not independently associated with either violent or non-violent injuries requiring hospitalization. By contrast, alcohol and cocaine use are associated with violence-related injuries, the study found.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at: Full text of the study, “Predicting violence among cocaine, cannabis, and alcohol treatment clients,” will appear in the journal Addictive Behaviors. Additional audio commentary regarding this study is available on the August 15, 2007 broadcast of the NORML Audio Stash at: