Marijuana does many magical things, not the least of which is make dubstep listenable. In Los Angeles, we use it pretty much legally for back pain, nausea and hot tubbing. But a new study from Germany says that, in U.S. states like California where marijuana has become medically legit, rates of suicide have gone down.
The researchers note that suicide is often triggered by “stressful life events.” And you know what can take away the pain? No. Not Enrique Iglesias. Stress! Or rather, chronic. Depending.
The academics note that “California includes anxiety as a qualifying condition” to obtain medical pot, “while Delaware and New Mexico both allow the use of medical marijuana for post traumatic stress disorder … ”
The Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in Bonn, with the help of American researchers such as Daniel I. Rees of the University of Colorado’s Department of Economics, recently published their findings in a paper called High on Life? Medical Marijuana Laws and Suicide (PDF):
Our results suggest that the passage of a medical marijuana law is associated with an almost 5 percent reduction in the total suicide rate, an 11 percent reduction in the suicide rate of 20- through 29-year-old males, and a 9 percent reduction in the suicide rate of 30- through 39-year-old males.
The study takes some wild guesses, and one of them is that maybe medical marijuana users are cutting out the alcohol, which can be depressive:
The strong association between alcohol consumption and suicide related outcomes found by previous researchers (Markowitz et al. 2003; Carpenter 2004; Sullivan et al. 2004; Rodriguez Andres 2005; Carpenter and Dobkin 2009) raises the possibility that medical marijuana laws reduce the risk of suicide by decreasing alcohol consumption.
The academics cite research on animals where there was “a potent anti-depressant effect” when they were injected with low doses of synthetic cannabinoid.
Of course this flies in the face of tons of research — not to mention what Dr. Drew Pinsky has said several times — that cannabis and depression go together like milk and cookies. And, it seems clear to us, the only solid argument to be made here is there might be a correlation between medical marijuana states and lower rates of suicides.
Hmm. National suicide rates have been decreasing across the board.
Researchers say they focused mostly on young men because most medical marijuana patients in states like Arizona, Colorado and Montana are males, and roughly half are under 40. Data on women, apparently, was weak. (Women are four times less likely to commit successful suicide in general).
The German study’s rosy conclusion:
… The legalization of medical marijuana leads to an improvement in the psychological well being of young adult males, an improvement that is reflected in fewer suicides.
Believe that. Or not.