One of the biggest criticisms of marijuana historically, all the way back to the Reefer Madness days, has been regarding the potential physical and psychological side effects. And yet, because it has been federally illegal for so long, studying its medical efficacy and true long-term health effects has been difficult.
Marijuana’s legality (in those few states where it is legal, either recreationally or medically) has made significant progress since 1996, when Colorado first allowed medical marijuana use. And yet, federally, consideration of marijuana is at a standstill. Though the Obama Administration has, for the most part, looked the other way from legal state marijuana industries, there still has not been much progress on legalizing, decriminalizing or even rescheduling marijuana. Why? Partly because we don’t know if it’s really, truly safe. Long-term studies are needed that look at the many potential effects: lung function, blood pressure, BMI, etc.
…huh? There is a study like that?
Marijuana Study Shows Insignificant Health Effects of Long-Term Marijuana Use – With One Twist
A group of 10 researchers from all over the world – New Zealand, the University of California, and King’s College London (among others) recently published a study on marijuana use lasting 20 years. The study examined 1,037 adults from ages 18 to 38, with a retention rate of 95 percent of the subjects.
After controlling for several possible conflicting factors, including tobacco use, childhood health and socioeconomic status, guess what the researchers discovered? Long-term marijuana use did not cause any statistically significant effect on lung health, inflammation, BMI or metabolism. “Statistical significance,” in its most basic use, means a result that cannot be attributed to chance – so marijuana use only had negligible effects on a dozen different health metrics. Tobacco, predictably, did not fare nearly as well. It’s just one study, but it is interesting nonetheless.
The one health factor that did decrease significantly for marijuana users? Periodontal health. Yep – the worst effect that marijuana had in the long-term was gum disease. Brush your teeth and visit a dentist regularly, folks.