Just because marijuana is legal for recreational or medical use where you live doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe. In fact, one study suggests that people who use cannabis may be more likely to experience serious health problems than people who abstain.
Some people may perceive that cannabis has health benefits and is otherwise benign,” study lead author Nicholas Vozoris, MD, a respirologist and associate professor at the University of Toronto, said in a statement. .
“Our research highlights for those who use – or are considering – cannabis, that this behavior is associated with significant negative health outcomes,” Dr. Vozoris said.
Cannabis smoke can irritate the lungs and throat, cause airway inflammation and exacerbate chronic respiratory conditions, according to the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Marijuana has also been linked to impaired driving and a range of other health problems, including depression, anxiety, high blood pressure and heart attacks, according to NIDA.
At the same time, marijuana drugs are being used to treat a growing number of health problems, including nausea in cancer patients, lack of appetite in people with advanced AIDS, nerve pain and epilepsy, according to NIDA.
The fact that cannabis has certain health benefits has made it difficult to communicate potential risks to users, Vozoris said.
“Unlike tobacco, there is some uncertainty or controversy regarding the adverse health effects of cannabis,” he said.
For the new study, researchers looked at health outcome data from nearly 4,800 people aged 12 to 65 who said they had used cannabis in the past year, as well as more than 10,000 people who said they had never tried the drug or used it. only once over a year ago.
The main objective was to assess whether cannabis was associated with more emergency room visits for respiratory problems. But cannabis users were no more likely than others to go to the emergency room or be hospitalized for respiratory problems.
And marijuana users were also no more likely to die prematurely from any cause during the one-year study period, according to results published in BMJ Open Respiratory Research.
However, the study found other signs that cannabis can lead to health problems. Marijuana users were 22% more likely to visit the emergency room or be hospitalized during the study period.
Within a year of using cannabis, 1 in 25 people who try the drug will visit the emergency department or be admitted to hospital, according to the analysis.
Acute trauma and serious injury were the most common reasons cannabis users visited the emergency room or hospital, accounting for 15% of these cases. Respiratory problems still accounted for 14% of cases.
The study was not a controlled experiment designed to prove if or how cannabis could directly cause specific health problems. Researchers also lacked data on how much cannabis people might have consumed, how often they indulged in it, or whether they smoked the drug or used it in another form.
Even so, the results suggest that recreational cannabis may be more harmful than many users realize, the study team concludes.
“Our research results confirm that health professionals and the government should discourage recreational cannabis use in the general population,” Vozoris said.