Americans who hold strong religious beliefs consume less cannabis than those who are less devout or non-believers, according to a new study conducted by Florida researchers. Cannabis consumption is up across nearly all demographic categories across the country, except for churchgoers.
“Our study confirms previous studies of recreational marijuana use,” said Amy Burdette, an associate professor of sociology at Florida State University. “However, I believe ours is the first to examine the association between religiosity and medical marijuana use.”
Burdette and her team’s findings were recently published in the Journal of Drug Issues. The study revealed that individuals who regularly attend church and report that religion is “very important in their daily decision making” are less likely to use marijuana recreationally and medically.
The study crunched the numbers from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Over the years, many other studies have examined on the connection between religion and drug use among adolescents, but Burdette says this is one of the first studies to focus on cannabis use among adults.
“We know various forms of substance use have increased among older adults as well, Burdette said. “So, we need to know what’s going on among people in their 30s, 40s and 50s in terms of their substance use.”
According to Florida State University News, the official campus information organ:
In the study, researchers examined three focal variables — religious salience, religious service attendance and self-rated health.
Levels of religious attendance ranged from never attending services to attending more than once a week. Researchers found with every level of increased attendance the odds of being a recreational marijuana user reduced by 13 percent. The study found the likelihood of recreational marijuana use decreased by 20 percent as religious salience levels increased.
One interesting caveat to the findings is that religious involvement was less effective in deterring marijuana use among sickly adults whether recreational or medically prescribed. So, when illness comes, even the devout believe you can’t “pray away” the pain. Cannabis is consumed more by religious patients.
“You have two big institutions coming against each other when you’re suffering and in poor health,” Burdette said. “You might have your pastor highly stigmatizing its use, saying ‘it’s bad, it’s a drug, you shouldn’t do this.’ While your doctor says, ‘try this, it could help your pain and suffering.’ ”
As religious identity fades in modern society, Burdette speculates that more and more people will seek help from a medical authority instead of a moral one.