alcohol_aggression
Alcohol makes you more aggressive, cannabis makes you less. Photo: Mindaugas Danys

Alcohol makes you more aggressive, cannabis makes you less. Photo: Mindaugas Danys

The two most popular drugs in this world are alcohol and cannabis. Alcohol is more addictive and toxic than cannabis. It impairs driving ability considerably more. It also makes people more aggressive, leading to its being a factor in 40 percent of violent crimes. Yet its cannabis that’s illegal. Everybody knows that alcohol makes you more aggressive while cannabis makes you less so, but now we have A Scientific Study that proves it. The research was published recently in the journal, Psychopharmacology.

So what was the study?

The study, entitled Subjective aggression during alcohol and cannabis intoxication before and after aggression exposure and conducted by the Dutch Maastricht University and the German Frankfurt University, was of 61 people. 20 were heavy users of alcohol, taking at least three drinks a day in the case of males and two for females. 21 were heavy users of marijuana, smoking at least thrice weekly. And 20 were controls, who used neither drug heavily, poor bastards.

The alcohol users were made drunk ? their blood alcohol content measured 0.08. The cannabis users were made high, given 300 micrograms of THC per kilo of body weight. The control group missed out on the fun stuff. None of these people had psychiatric problems or was pregnant. They were aged 18 to 28 years old.

These folks were given tests to measure aggression. The first was a single category implicit association test, where people matched words to photos depicting aggressive behaviour. The second saw subjects playing a computer game where they had been told they could win money by pressing buttons, against an adversary ? unbeknownst to them, computer-controlled ? who could take money from them. Before and after the tests, the subjects were asked how aggressive they felt on a scale of one to a hundred. The process was repeated a week later, sans intoxication.

All groups acted similarly when not under the influence of anything. The alcohol users acted more aggressively when drunk and the smokers less when stoned, measured both by their self assessments and test responses. This is not the first evidence of this nature. A 2014 study found that couples who used marijuana experienced less domestic violence. Another study in the 1980s had subjects administer electric shocks to what they were told were people in another room, with less zapping when people were stoned. Studies found the same with rodents and primates (Miczek and Barry 1977, Miczek 1978).

OK, cannabis can be bad

Cannabis is not entirely blameless. It can cause anxiety and paranoia, which can sometimes makes people more aggressive to the point of violence: you hear the occasional story about cannabis users harming themselves or others. These stories gain traction because they are so abnormal.

And finally …

Before a crowd of people in 2015, Washington, DC, police chief Cathy Lanier declared, ?Alcohol is a much bigger problem. Marijuana smokers are not going to attack and kill a cop. They just want to get a bag of chips and relax.?

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