A long-term study of Swedish men finds that those who smoked marijuana at age 18, especially the heaviest users, were more likely to end up on the nation’s disability rolls by age 59.
It’s unclear whether the pot use in adolescence may have led to more severe substance abuse or was an early sign of psychiatric or social factors that contributed to later disability, the researchers caution.
“There is reason to believe that the associations found in our study develop over a long period of time and are intertwined with problems in the labor market, in the social security system, and with the individual,” said study leader Anna‐Karin Danielsson of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
Marijuana is one of the most commonly used illicit drugs in the world, with 77 million Europeans reporting having tried it in a recent study.
Pot use in the U.S. has been on the rise since 2007, possibly due in part to a perception of diminishing risks. Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the possession and use of recreational marijuana by adults in 2012.
Nonetheless, studies continue to link cannabis with a variety of psychiatric and health problems as well as adverse social consequences, Danielsson said. The research is limited, though, by short follow-up times and small study samples, she told Reuters Health in an email.