About a dozen cardiologists are warning Americans to put down the lighter and give up smoking marijuana for good because of potential harm to your heart, lungs and blood vessels.
Although cannabis has therapeutic benefits for people dealing with muscle pains, nausea, opioid addiction and age-related diseases such as Parkinson’s, the American Heart Association said Wednesday that no known benefits exist for cardiovascular diseases, which it says involves many of the “concerning health implications” of the drug.
The group cites observational studies that have linked marijuana to increased risk of heart attacks, heart failure and heart rhythm disorder, while comparing the inhalation of cannabis smoke to that of a tobacco cigarette.
The report comes as marijuana use soars, especially among younger adults, and as its legality continues to make its way from illicit to legalized at the state level. However, many unknowns remain, such as the drug’s association with cancers and how differences in doses and delivery — smoking, vaping, eating, drinking — can mitigate potential harms.
“Overall, evidence is still inconclusive for cannabis use and adverse cardiovascular outcomes, resulting in an urgent need for carefully designed, prospective short- and long-term studies,” the doctors said in the report published in AHA journal Circulation. “Although small observational studies in older adults have reported improvement in affective symptoms such as depression and anxiety with cannabis use, the effects in adolescents and young adults are less clear.”
Study of marijuana has been limited because of its listing as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, meaning it’s illegal federally and labeled “as having no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” according to the group.