By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
October 6, 2023
A new study on marijuana use out of Canada could impact the debate over its legalization in the United States.
The study, published in the medical journal Addiction, found that marijuana users who have a so-called cannabis use disorder have a 60 percent increased risk of developing cardiovascular complications, which includes a heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular event. The CDC in the U.S. estimates that three in 10 people who use marijuana have a cannabis use disorder.
Signs of a cannabis use disorder include: trying but failing to quit using marijuana; using marijuana even though it causes problems at home, school or work; using more marijuana than intended; and giving up important activities with friends and family in favor of using marijuana, according to the CDC.
“The risk of developing marijuana use disorder is greater in people who start using marijuana during youth or adolescence and who use marijuana more frequently,” the CDC says. “… People who have marijuana use disorder may also be at a higher risk of other negative consequences, such as problems with attention, memory, and learning.”
The Canadian study analyzed data from five Canadian health databases, according to Medical News Today.
Dr. Anees Bahji, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Calgary in Canada, told Medical News Today that the 60 percent increase was higher than expected.
“It’s important to be aware of the potential impact on cardiovascular health and to consider moderation and regular health check-ups,” Bahji said. “Additionally, people should be cautious about mixing cannabis with other substances, such as alcohol, as this may amplify the risks.”
A bill that would legalize medicinal marijuana in North Carolina passed the state Senate this year but failed to gain a vote in the House. Opponents of the bill say it is a stepping stone to recreational legalization statewide.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians legalized recreational marijuana in September after previously legalizing medicinal use of it. Throughout North Carolina, some doctors are not signing medicinal marijuana forms for patients due to the substance still being illegal on the federal level. Many doctors are part of networks that receive federal funding.
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said the new study should impact North Carolina legislators.
“Hundreds of millions have been spent in an attempt to convince the public that high-potency THC drugs, including edibles and concentrates, pose no harm,” Creech said. “However, the medical science continually refutes these claims, shedding light on the intentional misinformation disseminated by the industry. It is imperative to acknowledge that around one in three users grapple with marijuana use disorder, with more than 16 million Americans affected in 2021.”
Creech, in a statement, listed other recent data:
— “Research in JAMA Psychiatry (2019) suggested that marijuana use during adolescence may be associated with an increased risk of developing psychosis and schizophrenia.
— “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) emphasizes that marijuana impairs driving ability and increases the risk of accidents.
— “The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that marijuana use can lead to the development of substance use disorders, with about 9 percent of users becoming addicted.
— “A study published in JAMA Pediatrics (2020) reported an association between prenatal marijuana exposure and an increased risk of preterm birth and low birth weight.
— “Findings from a study in JAMA Network Open (2020) suggested that marijuana smoke, similar to tobacco smoke, could be associated with lung damage and respiratory issues.
— “A review published in the journal Current Addiction Reports (2021) highlighted that heavy cannabis use in adolescence and young adulthood may have lasting negative effects on cognitive function and brain structure.
— “A study in the journal Lancet Psychiatry (2021) found that cannabis use was linked to an elevated risk of developing anxiety disorders.
— “Research published in JAMA Psychiatry (2021) indicated that marijuana use was associated with an increased risk of developing depression, particularly among heavy and frequent users.”
“Despite its popularity, marijuana is a dangerous drug,” Creech said. “During recent sessions of the North Carolina General Assembly, this year being the most intense, there has been a full-throttle approach to getting medical marijuana approved in the Tar Heel state. What we should consider is the establishment of medical marijuana programs contribute to greater public acceptance and the normalization of marijuana use. This normalization reduces the social stigma associated with cannabis, making it more palatable for broader recreational use.”
Legalization, he added, “sends mixed messages to young people about the potential risks and harms of cannabis use.”
“The legalization of medical marijuana will create a slippery slope towards full recreational legalization,” Creech said. “It will set a precedent for loosening restrictions on marijuana use and will lead to a more permissive attitude towards recreational use in the future.”