Today, we thought we’d share with you a cannabis scare story we came across this week. Not to in any way support the sentiments of those behind it, of course. But instead, to simply demonstrate how and why it is that these kinds of things sparked the kind of anti-pot propaganda we’d all prefer to see the back of.
A report was published in the press earlier this week which states outright that people who smoke cannabis are at least three times more likely to die from high blood pressure than those who don’t smoke pot. The study was carried out at the School of Public Health at Georgia State University, which apparently brought to light evidence that the risk of fatal hypertension is even greater for cannabis users than it is for those who smoke tobacco.
‘Steps are being taken towards legalisation and decriminalisation of marijuana in the United States, and rates of recreational marijuana may increase substantially as a result,’ said study lead author Barbara Yankey.
‘However, there is little research on the impact of marijuana use on cardiovascular and cerebrovascular mortality.’
For the purposes of the study, the medical records of approximately 1,200 people were observed during a six-year period between 2005 and 2011. When the data was pulled together, the researchers concluded that those who use cannabis were around 3.4 times more likely to die as a result of high blood pressure than those who never used cannabis.
‘Our results suggest a possible risk of hypertension mortality from marijuana use,’ Yankey said.
‘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.’
And she wasn’t done by a long shot when it came to warning of the apparent ‘dangers’ of cannabis use.
‘The detrimental effects of marijuana on brain function far exceed that of cigarette smoking,’ she continued.
‘Support for liberal marijuana use is partly due to claims that it is beneficial and possibly not harmful to health,’
‘With the impending increase in recreational marijuana use, it is important to establish whether any health benefits outweigh the potential health, social and economic risks.
‘If marijuana use is implicated in cardiovascular diseases and deaths, then it rests on the health community and policy makers to protect the public.’
Suffice to say, it all makes for rather worrying reading. At least, for those who take things at face value and do not bother to read between the lines.
The problem being that there is one inherent flaw in the study as a whole, which to a large extent invalidates its findings. That being, the researchers defined cannabis users as anyone who had ever tried cannabis in any form at any time during their life. In turn meaning that while the apparent cannabis usage group may have had a much higher risk of high blood pressure, it included those who may have tried cannabis once as a teenager and never touched it again, for example.
Hence, drawing direct links between cannabis use and potentially fatal high blood pressure in this instance is nonsensical.
Still, the one positive point the report does raise is the way in which it is vitally important that further research be carried out into the benefits and effects of cannabis. Which isn’t going to happen until lawmakers accept the fact that pot isn’t the danger to public health critics would like us all to believe.