It’s never been easier to get marijuana in the U.S., especially now that almost 30 states have declared weed legal to consume. Proponents of cannabis products (and some studies) say it can help with migraines, pain management, and the effects of chemotherapy.
Weed might help you recover from workouts, and could even improve your workouts under the right circumstances. On the downside, it could damage your blood vessels, impact your short-term memory, or even—contrary to popular expectations—hinder your creativity.
Now we can add a new strike against marijuana: It might triple your risk of dying from hypertension—or high blood pressure—according to a new study from Georgia State University. Researchers analyzed data from more than 1,200 marijuana users at least 20 years old who had smoked for an average of 11 years, and who had been enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Pot smokers ended up 3.42 times more likely to die from high blood pressure, and that risk increased about by a factor of one for each year they smoked weed.
“Our results suggest a possible risk of hypertension mortality from marijuana use,” said Barbara A. Yankey, a Ph.D. student in the School of Public Health at Georgia State. “This is not surprising since marijuana is known to have a number of effects on the cardiovascular system. Marijuana stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, leading to increases in heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen demand. Emergency rooms have reported cases of angina and heart attacks after marijuana use.”
The study authors also mentioned that they found a higher estimated risk to the cardiovascular system for marijuana smoking than the risk known for cigarette smoking. “This indicates that marijuana use may carry even heavier consequences on the cardiovascular system than that already established for cigarette smoking,” said Yankey. “However, the number of smokers in our study was small, and this needs to be examined in a larger study. Needless to say, the detrimental effects of marijuana on brain function far exceed that of cigarette smoking.”
This increased strain on the cardiovascular system and blood pressure would seem to be more dependent upon how you decide to consume your weed since ingesting edibles and using safer vaporizing methods instead of burning a joint or smoking a bowl would eliminate inhaling smoke into your lungs. That said, like any drug, natural or not, the key is moderation and knowing your own limits (and the legal status within your state).