Although some preliminary research from last year frightened the cannabis community when it suggested that regular pot smokers were three times more likely to succumb to hypertension, a more recent analysis finds this is not necessarily the case. It seems that until the more research is conducted on the herb, the scientific world remains mostly in the dark about the overall affect of cannabis on cardiovascular health.
To shed more light on this subject, researchers went back to examine the data from dozens of studies on marijuana and heart health. Essentially, the main focus was to learn whether marijuana causes elevated cholesterol levels or high blood pressure. The study group searched for any evidence linking marijuana to heart disease. But what they ultimately discovered was that all of the previous research surrounding this topic is flawed.
“Evidence examining the effect of marijuana on cardiovascular risk factors and outcomes … is insufficient,” researchers concluded, according to a report from Business Insider.
The results of the latest study are consistent with a much larger investigation published last year. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which consists of some of the leading scientific minds in the country, determined there was “insufficient evidence” that smoking marijuana was a detriment to heart health. More specifically, the group was unable to establish whether cannabis could trigger a heart attack.
Still, science says that marijuana does in fact increase a person’s heart rate by up to 50 beats a minute. Some believe this means the herb definitely has a negative affect on heart function. Yet, all of this “limited evidence” is all over the place. Some smaller studies have shown that marijuana might actually have the power to lower blood pressure, rather than increase it. In the end, the scientific community remains stumped.
But it is not likely we will have any definitive answers with respect to marijuana and the heart anytime in the near future. Until the federal government chooses to downgrade the Schedule I classification of the cannabis plant under the Controlled Substances Act, research will be hard to come by. As it stands, scientists have a tough time getting green lit for studies to examine the health benefits of cannabis because of all the red tape they have to cut through to get approval from all of the pertinent government agencies. This has caused researchers like Dr. Sue Sisley to get jammed up in her years-long exploration of medical marijuana as a treatment for patients with PTSD.
Considering that marijuana is legal in over half the nation for medicinal and recreational purposes, now would be a good time for the Trump administration to initiate the rescheduling process. Because not knowing how marijuana impacts the heart and other factors is the real risk to public health and safety.