Supporters of the use of marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes have continually defended the plant as a safe “herb” that calms and soothes and can even help relieve people’s pain. However, new research has just been released that has shown that marijuana use may be correlated with greater risks to the heart and brain in young and even middle-aged adults.
Medical scientists in France published a study this past Tuesday in the Journal of The American Heart Association this past Friday that concluded that the plant may have a potentially harmful effect on the heart and even the brain. They also concluded that continued use may lead to severe heart problems and even death among adults who are young and middle-aged.
From 2006 to 2010, the French scientists conducting the study found 35 reports of patients who had dealt with heart problems following their use of marijuana. About 85 percent of the study participants were men with an average age of 34. In nine cases, the patient ended up dying.
In a different study that took place earlier this month, a group of scientists who studied young adults who casually used the plant found that marijuana use was not only correlated with greater heart risks in them, but also found clear abnormalities in their brains. Their brains were found distinctly different from those who did not use the drug.
The French study does not specify a specific level of marijuana use that is considered dangerous. However, the lead study author, Emilie Jouanjus, commented people think cannabis is harmless, but that her work does show that it can indeed lead to very serious complications in the cardiovascular system. She also said that she was surprised at the results of the study in regards to heart problems, with all of the participants except one being under the age of 50. She commented that she believes that this study only shows a little bit of what could be a potentially very dangerous risk, since most people who use marijuana greatly under-report their actual use of the drug.
Marijuana is currently the most commonly used illegal drug in the world, and medicinal marijuana use and a license for the personal growth of the plant is already legalized in 20 states across the United States. This research is being released in the midst of a debate about whether New York state should legalize marijuana as well, becoming the 21st state to do so. Many people maintain that marijuana is a good remedy for pain caused by diseases, sicknesses, and ailments such as chronic pain, epilepsy, chemotherapy effects from cancer, and glaucoma, but others are against it, arguing that it is a drug which causes devastating effects to the brain and heart. Most of these people’s arguments have been dismissed. This is because there was no substantial evidence to back up their claims apart from marijuana’s supposed effects on people’s behavior. However, with this new study saying that use of drug may be correlated with greater brain and heart risks in young adults, their claims may soon be substantiated.
By Laura Clark