Health Advice



'California sober' may be bad for your heart

Lisa Jarvis, Bloomberg Opinion on

Published in Health & Fitness

The study left open a number of key questions worth pursuing. For example, the main method of cannabis ingestion among survey participants was smoking. So the research can’t tell us whether increasingly popular alternatives like gummies or THC-infused drinks pose an equal risk to heart health. Small studies by Vandrey’s lab have shown that smoking and edibles produce similar changes in heart rate, and other, limited trials suggest that yes, edibles also carry a cardiovascular risk.

Another missing piece: Does the potency of the pot matter? Most of the studies on cannabis and heart health were done on what Page describes as “first-generation cannabis,” meaning strains that were cultivated in the wild.

But modern dispensaries aren’t selling your grandparents’ weed. THC content today is typically much higher. Does that mean it’s riskier?

What would help the most at this point is to run a large study that followed subjects over time to understand the connections between cannabis consumption and heart health. That same study could also winnow out any other health effects — good or bad — from recreational use.

The US needs that type of data. At present, recreational marijuana is legal in 24 states, decriminalized in another seven, and could soon be expanded to other parts of the country. That has bred an industry offering an ever-evolving array of products (with an ever-evolving array of cannabinoids at varying doses, consumed in various ways) that have very little toxicology or pharmacology data behind them. “It’s all brand new, and we really do not have a good sense of what the long-term health effects of what those products will be,” Vandrey says.


But the data we do have suggest that recreational pot users shouldn’t assume their habit is benign — much less healthy.


This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Lisa Jarvis is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering biotech, health care and the pharmaceutical industry. Previously, she was executive editor of Chemical & Engineering News.

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