UK researchers came to the conclusion following their analysis of more than three decades worth of death records on more than 50,000 Swedish military recruits.
Dr Stanley Zammit of the department of psychological medicine at Cardiff University School of Medicine and colleagues had previously found a link between cannabis use and schizophrenia while looking at the same group of 50,087 men drafted into the Swedish military in 1969-1970.
Nearly all were 18 to 20 years old at the time and in that first analysis, the researchers had also found a “much less consistent and overall weaker” relationship between cannabis use and depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and suicide.
To investigate further, Dr Zammit and his team identified suicides among the recruits over the next 33 years in Sweden’s National Cause of Death Registry. During that time, there were 600 suicides or deaths from unknown causes.
At the time they were drafted, about one in 10 of the men admitted to ever using cannabis. These men were 62% more likely to have killed themselves during the follow-up period than men who had never used marijuana.
However, once the researchers adjusted for factors that could influence both cannabis use and suicide risk, such as behavior problems in childhood, psychological adjustment, psychiatric diagnoses, drinking, smoking, and parental drug use, the increased risk of suicide associated with marijuana disappeared.
As with all these studies, they are nice to have, but a little bit of common sense can bring you to the same conclusion. If marijuana use led to increased suicides, don’t you think there would be a whole lot fewer aging baby boomers around these days?
When I was a youngster, I faced a crossroads where I could decide between continuing in school band or committing to playing football. “What should I do, Dad,” I asked my father, “I really like being in band and I’m pretty good at it. But I love playing football, too, and I think I could be a great tight-end someday. What should I do?”
“Well, son, I’ll tell you what. Go find yourself some stories from old men who made those choices. Go read about some musicians in their 60s, 70s, and 80s. Then go read stories about old football players.”
Turns out, there aren’t a whole lot of old football players in their 60s, 70s, and 80s to find stories about. The average life expectancy for an NFL player is 55 years old. Meanwhile, B.B. King is 85-years-old and is playing the Hard Rock in Florida this coming Groundhog Day.
The point is that when we look around these days, we don’t see a whole lot of elderly folks who’ve used alcohol, heroin, cocaine, tobacco, or meth all of their lives. But Willie Nelson is 77-years-old and has been smoking weed all the livelong day and the dope-smoking bra-burners and Vietnam-protesters of the 60s who still smoke a joint from time to time are now the majority of the AARP.