According to a report issued in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a preliminary study indicates that marijuana use may increase the risk for hypertension mortality.
Here is what you need to know:
- The authors of the study indicate that reports and data about how cannabis impacts the heart, blood pressure, and overall mortality are very few in number.
- The authors assume that since cannabis is largely smoked, like tobacco-based products, that there will be a link between cannabis use and increased cardiovascular mortality.
- The method used in the research was described by the authors as this:”We linked participants aged 20 years and above, who responded to questions on marijuana use during the 2005 US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to data from the 2011 public-use linked mortality file of the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only participants eligible for mortality follow-up were included. We conducted Cox proportional hazards regression analyses to estimate hazard ratios for hypertension, heart disease, and cerebrovascular mortality due to marijuana use. We controlled for cigarette smoking and other relevant variables.”
- The New York Times has an article summarizing the data, as do other media outlets.
- The NYT notes, “Researchers studied 332 deaths among 1,213 people participating in a larger health study, of whom 57 percent were marijuana users. They had used marijuana for an average of 12 years, and the longer they used it, the more likely they were to have hypertension.”
- Results from the study suggest that cannabis users have more than three times the risk of death from hypertension-related causes. However, the authors and other analysts note that the accuracy of self-reported consumption (how often cannabis was used, how it was used, and at what level) may not be very high since people were reporting illegal drug use. How much of a variation that can cause in the data is unknown.
How does this impact cannabis businesses:
One of the most common points that cannabis advocates make in discussions is the relative safety or natural aspect of cannabis. Industry analysts and investors that are already fearful of risk based on the on-going federal prohibition (and banking restrictions) will likely add this preliminary study to their list of concerns. Businesses need to be aware of this study, and future research that comes out on the health impacts of cannabis, because it could affect the nature of future investments, as well as the progress in other states for legalization (recreational and medicinal). If your business sells a legal cannabis product, you may consider steps to self-regulation similar to what currently exists in the tobacco industry. In other words, look at how you can use labeling and your online presence to encourage safe and proper use of cannabis, and stress the dangers of abuse. The more steps your business takes to promote responsible use prior to state or federal intervention, the better you will likely be perceived.