Medical and Physical Effects of Long-term Cannabis Use

Last year the National Academies of Sciences medicine and engineering released a comprehensive report on cannabis use. At almost 400 pages long, it reviewed both potential benefits and harms. Legalization has made a Canada weed dispensary for the legal distribution of cannabis. There are a lot of people online who talk about benefits let’s focus on the harms.


The greatest side effect of tobacco smoking is cancer so, it’s reasonable to start there with weed smoking. A 2005 systematic review in the International Journal of cancer, pooled the results of six case-control studies. No relation was found between smoking weed and cancer in lungs. Another 2015 systematic review pooled nine case-control studies and could find no link to head or neck cancers. Another meta-analysis of three case-control studies of testicular cancer found a statistically significant link between heavier pot smoking and one type of testicular cancer. But this evidence was judged to be limited because of limitations and the research all of which was from the 1990s.

There’s no evidence or not enough to say, of the link between pot use and esophageal cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, penile cancer, or bladder cancer. There is almost no evidence or not enough to say that pot has any effect on sperm or eggs that could increase the risk of cancer and any children of pot smokers. Using marijuana while pregnancy does pose risks, we’ll discuss in this article later.

Heart disease

Cigarettes are the main cause of heart disease but it isn’t clearly seen with cannabis smoking. Only two studies quantified the risks between marijuana use and heart attacks. First, stated no relationship at all and the other stated that pot smoking may be a trigger for a heart attack in the hour after smoking. But these results were based on 8-9 patients and may not be generalizable.

Lung function

It also makes sense to think about the risk of respiratory disease. A 2007 systematic review found that lung function actually improved in the short-term use of cannabis. But these benefits were completely overtaken by evidence that lung function may degrade with chronic use. Lung function, however, is a laboratory measure and not necessarily a clinical outcome and what we really care about is lung disease. Tobacco usages have side effects on the lung functions but no evidence is available to link weed smoking to asthma.

Impaired driving

Driving while impaired is a major cause of injury in death in the United States. Six systematic reviews were considered a fair or good quality by the National Academies, and the most recent one pulled three of the others. It contained evidence from 19 studies in 9 countries representing almost 230,000 participants. For people who reported marijuana use, or had THC detected through testing, the odds of being involved in a motor vehicle accident increased by 20 to 30 %, the study found. This is, of course, a relative increase and shouldn’t be confused with the overall percentage of getting in a car accident, which is much smaller.

Regardless, driving while impaired is a terrible idea although, we have good tests to determine if people are under the influence of alcohol, no such tests are currently available for marijuana making enforcement more difficult.

Pregnancy effects

Babies born to women, who smoke pot during pregnancy, are more likely to be underweight, delivered premature, and admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit, according to a 2016 systematic review. But there were no relation seen for changes in head circumference, birth length, or congenital malformations.

There’s limited evidence for pregnancy complications for mothers and there’s not enough evidence to come in on much else about babies and their outcomes.

Mental health

The most recent meta-analysis found that there’s a significant connection between heavy marijuana use and a diagnosis of psychosis, specifically schizophrenia. Another systematic review highlighted a potentially small but statistically significant link between marijuana uses in the development of the bipolar disorder. Heavy users of pot are also more likely to say they have suicidal thoughts.

What makes this complicated is that, it’s hard to establish the arrow of causality, are people who smoke pot more likely to develop mental health problems or a people with mental health problems more likely to smoke pot? There is the same concern while discussing the relationship between using pot and other substances. Some people see marijuana as a gateway drug, leading to other substance user abuse. But others and a lot of research see this only as a correlation, in which people who are likely to use or abuse substances are more likely to use pot as well.

Secondhand smoke

Many countries like Canada have legalized the cannabis for general use. Now weed smoker feel freed from secrecy and they smoke more in public and this really is matter of concern about secondhand smoke. People can buy weed online in Canada from online dispensary Canada which gives them easy access to Bruce Banner Strain and other similar products. According to a medical study, 1 minute of exposure to marijuana smoke can impair how vessels respond to blood flow for at least 90 minutes, a greater impairment than seen from tobacco. This was a study in rats though not of humans out in the world. As for the risk of a contact high, the amount of THC detectable in secondhand smoke is negligible. Almost everyone agrees that children should not use pot, but concerns are legitimately raised about whether children might have increased exposure or access after legalization.

Although this issue has not been studied widely it’s possible that pot, the THC and the metabolites from smoke, could have an effect in the developing brains of children. These concerns are more applicable to adolescents who use pot regularly however, not the accidental ingestion reported in the news once in a while.

Bottom line

You got to weigh the pros and cons. Many of the harms we’ve discussed are statistically significant and yet they’re of questionable significance. Almost all the increased risks are relative risks. But there are low risks potentially. We haven’t focused on the potential benefits especially medical ones here, but many people use pot even rationally, for benefits they perceive to be greater than the harms we’ve listed. Cannabis has been proved as a better appetizer than steroids Canada in matter of gaining muscles. We unquestionably need more research and more evidence of harms may emerge.

But it’s important to note that, the harms we know about now are practically nil compared to that of many other drugs, and that marijuana’s effects are clearly less harmful than those associated with tobacco or alcohol abuse. People, who choose to use marijuana now that it’s easier to do so legally, will need to weigh the pros and cons for themselves.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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