Regular cannabis use leads to serious problems in later life

Young people who smoke cannabis regularly experience “more financial, work-related and relationship difficulties”, according to a long-term study.

The Dunedin Health and Development Study has followed almost 1,000 young people in New Zealand over a period of nearly 40 years.

It found that 18 to 38-year-olds who smoke the drug four times a week or more go on to experience serious issues in various areas of life.

Antisocial behaviour

According to the study, heavy cannabis users go on to work in less skilled jobs and earn less money.

The study also demonstrated a link between cannabis dependency and antisocial behaviour, such as stealing and domestic violence.

Lead researcher Magdalena Cerdá, from the University of California, described the results as ‘robust’.

She said: “Our study found that regular cannabis users experienced downward social mobility and more financial problems such as troubles with debt and cash flow than those who did not report such persistent use.

Worse than alcohol

“Regardless of how we looked at the relationship between persistent, regular cannabis use and economic and social problems, we got the same results.

“In fact, we found that cannabis dependence was worse than alcohol dependence in the case of financial difficulties, such as troubles with debt and cash flow, and food insecurity.

“Regular and persistent use of cannabis could also lead people to become involved with friends and social environments that discourage work-related achievement”.


Over nine million adults and almost a third of young people in Britain admit to having smoked cannabis in their lifetime.

Earlier this month the Liberal Democrat Party was criticised after it officially backed the legalisation of cannabis, following a vote at its spring conference.

Party members voted overwhelmingly for the controversial new policy, which would see cannabis sold over the counter.


Under the new policy, shops would be granted a licence to sell cannabis to over-18s in plain packaging with health warnings – similar to tobacco.

People would also be allowed to grow cannabis plants at home for personal use.