The use of marijuana has been widely discussed in recent years. Thanks to a study, it has been found that the only physical harm that long-term marijuana smoking may cause on the body is some form of periodontal disease.

The study analyzed that, in a period of 20 years, pot-smoking participants were likely to present poor periodontal health.

Many seek information regarding the use and abuse of marijuana. It is only recently that it has become legalized in many jurisdictions across the U.S. Studies have taken place in order to guarantee that using the plant in any of its forms is not harmful.

Thanks to a study, it has been found that the only physical harm that long-term marijuana smoking may cause on the body is some form of periodontal disease. Photo credit: Cannabis Feed
Thanks to a study, it has been found that the only physical harm that long-term marijuana smoking may cause on the body is some form of periodontal disease. Photo credit: Huffington Post /

Pot is not dangerous

It was already established that pot is not dangerous along short periods of use, but it was still theorized that it must have some effect on the body when the user smokes the substance for a long period of time.

It should be noted that only physical and not mental health problems were taken into account.

A study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry and led by Madeline H Meier, Ph.D., reviewed if the frequent use of cannabis from the ages of 18 to 38 diverted into any significant health problems.

The study analyzed 1037 participants from New Zealand, where half of them were male and the other female. Almost half of them had smoked cigarettes daily at some time in their lives and the rest had smoked marijuana. The team measured risk factors in lung function, metabolic health, periodontal health and overall health conditions. The age periods used were 18, 21, 26, 32 and 38 years.

It turns out that participants approaching 38 years of age showed that there is an association between poor periodontal health and the frequent use of cannabis. The participants that had used tobacco at some point in their lives had a worse overall health assessment when compared to those that only smoked pot. The results display a clear correlation between frequently smoking cannabis and developing poor periodontal health at a later age. The plausible link between cannabis and other physical health problems was discarded as a whole by the researchers.

“We can see the physical health effects of tobacco smoking in this study, but we don’t see similar effects for cannabis smoking,” stated Meier, assistant professor of psychology at Arizona State University.

Researching what we already know

Over the past 20 years, many studies have taken place in order to determine several risk factors of marijuana. Is it lethal? Can it be addictive? Is it a gateway drug? Does it make you stupid? The answer is no, but people still hesitate.

The first and most concerning factor for the use of marijuana is whether it is physically dangerous. As it was proven by the study carried on by Professor Meier and her colleagues, there are no significant short or long-term implications regarding the use of marijuana. Other research efforts found out that to achieve a fatal dose of THC, the main component of the drug, one would have to smoke at least 10 joints per hour, without stopping to roll another.

But marijuana does have adverse effects on cognitive behavior, making it dangerous for drivers and for those who operate heavy machinery, while being much safer than alcohol. Researchers have also determined that it is possible to become dependent on pot, although just like in the previous scenario, the risk is much lower.

Pot smoking may cause withdrawal symptoms if the chronic user quits smoking, although the symptoms are much less severe than those displayed by people addicted to alcohol, tobacco, and opioids.

Finally, there’s the theory that marijuana causes a decay in mental capacity, but this was also debunked. It was initially thought that marijuana did affect cognitive development, but the study that announced this was severely criticized for not taking into account socioeconomic status, the use of narcotics and the overall mental health of the participants.

Two other studies analyzed participants lives. One study took into account identical twins where one smoked pot and the other didn’t, and the other study followed nearly two thousand British teens throughout their lives as some smoked marijuana and others didn’t. The results did not display any factor that linked the use of cannabis with a consistent decline in mental capacity.

It appears that the relation between marijuana and poor academic performance is inverted, as kids with poorer academic performance are more likely to uptake in chronic or casual marijuana smoking.

We are not there yet

But there are still concerns regarding the mental aspect of smoking cannabis, as THC is a potent hallucinogen. Some researchers suggest that using marijuana may lead to suicidal tendencies or episodes of psychosis. Although some studies regarding this matter have taken place, there is still no solid foundation on these claims.

As more states keep legalizing pot, it is only a matter of time until the use of cannabis becomes so frequent that people just stop worrying about it. But there is still a long way to go as there must be certain limitations regarding its sale and purchase. Voters must watch out as both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton aim for a reclassification of marijuana as a controlled substance.

Source: Jama Network