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Marijuana use holds three-fold blood pressure death risk: study (reuters.com)
69 points by cyanbane on Aug 10, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 103 comments

So they write about the limitations of their study about how marijuana use is subject to the real use frequency, but they simply throw all other considerations out the window.

I take issue with trials like these. They barely do any reasonable trial research and try to spin:

"The persons who habitually smoke marijuana have been shown to have higher blood pressure levels when compared to the general population"


"Smoking marijuana in itself causes higher blood pressure"

No doubt pharmaceutical companies have their hands in this, if I may say, bullshit. They stand to lose money if people have a drug that helps their symptoms that they can simply grow in the back yard. Replace "Internet of Things" with "Internet of Non-Critical Thinkers" and you get a recipe in which todays society may be influenced due to their lack of understanding of scientific principles in a world ever increasing in scientific constructs.

EDIT: jetlagged english

> "The persons who habitually smoke marijuana have been shown to have higher blood pressure levels when compared to the general population"

It's not even this, it reads as if it was a simple "Have you ever smoked marijuana?" and that's what the conclusion was drawn from.

"Yankey said were limitations in the way marijuana use was assessed -- including that researchers could not be sure whether people had used the drug continuously since they first tried it."

That would be like asking "Have you ever intentionally hurt someone's feelings?" and concluding that people were three times likely to be anti-social.

True. It is such an absurd jump of logic. Either the writer of the piece is trying to make bank (views) off of the polarizing subject matter (legal marijuana use) or someone who stands to lose bank ($$$) upset about the possibility someone can grow a remedy to their symptoms for a fraction of the price they charge over the counter.

Plenty of weed users in the USA have used other drugs, live below poverty, and have other external factors.

Im for legalization of marijuana so my thoughts may be biased but I an concerned that this study is bad science. Marijuana isnt legal in most places, perhaps these causes of hypertension are environmental.

"For Yankey's study, information on marijuana use was merged with mortality data in 2011 from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, and adjusted for confounding factors such as tobacco smoking and variables including sex, age and ethnicity."

These studies need to be done in a place such as Portugal where marijuana has been legal for a long amount of time to allow for a large arching study to be performed properly.

This is great, it really points to the how criminalization of marijuana has been hurtful to society. People are going to continue to smoke it, legal or not, but now that its (somewhat) legal, we can learn things about how it effects the body!

Not quite...as it is still federally a Schedule 1 substance research is hampered.

People are rightly criticizing this study, but for the wrong reasons.

1. There is no establishment of causality, but the article pretends there is. People who use marijuana may use it because they have high-stress lives.

2. It only applies to smokers. About 70% of the marijuana products at the dispensaries I've been to are not meant to be smoked. To quote the original article ['Recreational marijuana is primarily smoked; we hypothesize that like cigarette smoking, marijuana use will be associated with increased cardiovascular mortalities']

3. No link to original study. [I think it's this: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/2047487317723212]

4. This could be a million different things. This could be related to the stress of being afraid of being fired, or arrested. This could be tainted drugs from bad suppliers. This could be because marijuana smokers are more likely to take drugs that do change blood pressure.

A lot of it, because it's illegal, isn't grown in conditions regulated in the same way that other agricultural products are grown.

Take, for example, a report from this week about pesticides in illegal growing spots in California. I can't find the Reuters link that talked about banned pesticides but I found: http://www.newsweek.com/illegal-marijuana-farms-dump-shockin...)



So the question is, do studies on cannabis harmfulness account for this variable, the unknowns and frequently illegal pesticides and other chemicals used to grow it?

I suspect I know the answer...

This is a very odd article. It discusses longevity of use but gives no details about frequency or method of ingestion, which may be very telling.

Example: Is there a difference between someone who smokes a joint every day for 10 years and someone who eats an edible once every two months for 10 years?

I imagine the answer to this is yes, but it's one of those things you need data to back up. The 'findings' have been so oversimplified in this news article that the portrayed results are likely only unreliable. This makes for great politicized sound-bytes but doesn't really help anyone make a real conclusion or decision.

This seems to be the source for the article, I doubt they even interviewed:


The study: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2047487317723212

Looking at methodology:

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.

And results:

Of the 1213 eligible participants 72.5% were presumed to be alive. The total follow-up time was 19,569 person-years. Adjusted hazard ratios for death from hypertension among marijuana users compared to non-marijuana users was 3.42 (95% confidence interval: 1.20–9.79) and for each year of marijuana use was 1.04 (95% confidence interval: 1.00–1.07).

My own naive interpretation here is that they drew their conclusions from a sample of ~334 deaths (1213 - 72.5%) by people who filled out a survey in 2005, using only the original survey at the beginning of the 6 year period and their public-use mortality file..

I hate the rationale that's implicitly being put forward in these arguments, and that underlies health care in the US.

The US health system is set up under this model that assumes you're incompetent and should be prevented from making any decisions on your own, and only allowed to use something if it's deemed inconsequential enough.

That is, it is assumed a person has no decision-making competency, and then the burden of proof is on someone to show that you do, or that a decision is within the realm of what someone's limited competency is.

This seems completely backward: you should be assumed to be competent, and then only have that legally determined otherwise through extraordinary means.

All drug regulation should be eliminated, and be replaced by a competency-based evaluation, much like if someone is dementing or cognitively incapable.

That is, if someone is shown to be addicted, they should be ruled incompetent about making drug-related decisions through evaluations by psychologists and the courts, etc. Then that person would be treated as a vulnerable individual, like a child or cognitively impaired adult, and anyone taking advantage of that person would be treated similarly.

The scheduling system and healthcare system is so screwed up and I don't see why this isn't discussed more. There would be so much more competition, and it is completely different from the issue of who pays: you could have the government decide what it wants to pay for, and leave people who want something different to pay for it through different means.

Great points but it's not just the health system. The nanny mindset you describe permeates all of American culture. In fact, it's inseparable. As H.L. Mencken puts it: "The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy," is the heart of American Puritan culture to this day. Nevermind that addiction is absolute hell on earth. Fear knows no nuance or facts for that matter.

Remember, studies like this are not opinion pieces about whether or not it should be legal. It's a substance that it has been illegal to study for decades, it's unsurprising there may be previously unknown health risks and it's important to try and understand them.

That being said,

>Support for liberal marijuana use is partly due to claims that it is beneficial and possibly not harmful to health

This is extremely disingenuous. No, support for liberal marijuana use is mostly due to claims that it is less harmful than current legal drugs like alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, sugar (not that it is not harmful at all), that it has measurable and powerful medicinal uses, and that criminalization of it is the biggest US domestic-policy-based moral catastrophe in decades and has done horrific damage to entire cornerstones of American society (minority groups, the police, civil liberties, the legal system, public health) with the explicitly stated and accomplished goal of targeting political and racial groups.

>If marijuana use is implicated in cardiovascular diseases and deaths, then it rests on the health community and policy makers to protect the public.

No, this is disingenuous and extremely dangerous. If use is implicated in these diseases it rests on the health community and policy makers to educate the public about these risks so they may make informed choices, exactly as they do with alcohol and tobacco and caffeine and sugar and trans fats, and to insulate the public from dangers associated with others making these choices by preventing e.g. driving under the influence or secondary exposure.

I have not read the paper. Does it attempt to segregate smokers vs. edible users?

It seems kind of a no-brainer that inhaling combustion products is going to stress your cardiovascular system, so I'd be interested to see if there's also something about the physiological effects of THC/CBD/whatever-else-is-soluble-in-butter that leads to hypertension as well.

edit: The study controlled for those who had previously been diagnosed with high blood pressure. But it did not take other cardiovascular risk factors into account, including diet and exercise.

It also assumed that those who said they had used marijuana in 2005 continued to do so, and it assumed that users largely smoked their pot and didn't consume it in other ways, such as by eating marijuana-laced brownies.

Those caveats limit the study's validity, said Dr. Vinay Prasad, associate professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University and an expert on the design and results of medical studies.

"It does not prove that if you choose to use marijuana you are more likely to die of cardiovascular disease," Prasad said in an email. "I think the major limit of the study is that there may be unobserved differences between the people who used and admitted to using marijuana during the years of this study, and cardiovascular outcomes that the researchers did not adjust for. In fact, that is likely."

Oh. Nevermind. http://www.oregonlive.com/health/index.ssf/2017/08/study_lin...

The correlation isn't nearly as strong as the headline implies. See: http://www.oregonlive.com/health/index.ssf/2017/08/study_lin...

Interesting finding because I find it conflicts with my stereotype of the laid back stoner. Though I could see drug use leading to other stresses in life (speculation, I'm not that kind of doctor). However, I have a problem with their definition of "marijuana user"

> We selected participants eligible for mortality follow-up, aged 20 years and above, who answered “yes” or “no” to the question, “Have you ever used marijuana or hashish?” Participants who answered yes were classified marijuana users and those who answered no, as non-marijuana users. Duration of marijuana use was estimated by subtracting participant’s age at marijuana use initiation from the age at the 2005 screen.

from the study

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/204748731772321... it is open access

So according to this study, anyone who answered that they ever tried marijuana once is classified as a regular user from that point forwards?

I must be misreading that.

Hate to say it, but it could be true. I am in an area of heavy heavy marijuana use (DABs, oils, etc 250mg> THC daily) and it is not just me, other people have noticed negative health of these users. They look sick. Another diesease is that they can no longer eat and they lose weight. Apparanetly according to the doctors the stomach is unable to make the right acid to digest food. We also noticed mania, strange behavior, etc. Just everything: a little bit is fun/good, a lot is bad. It doesn't help that the proponents of medical marijuana push it as the cure for everything. Type any disease or condition into google and "medical marijuana" and you will find "evidence" that it cures that condition. The internet is full of this bad medical advice. I've actually known people that ruined their lives with just marijuana

Huh? I've lived in Oregon and Colorado and work in an industry with the higher amount of cannabis use, and there's no trend of anything like what you're saying in any of the hundreds of people that I know. I know many people who feel like cannabis has benefited their lives a great deal.

Saying that cannabis use makes people unable to eat is funny, since one of the uses it's been known for and approved for for a long time, with heavy use, is helping cancer and AIDS patients eat due to appetite stimulating properties.

I think you may mean a condition called hyperemesis that people think is related to heavy cannabis use, but apparently is that it's related to ingestion of a pesticide. The groups who spread anti-cannabis propaganda for decades are still quite active and are glad to seize on things Like that, and say hey, this nontoxic products that is far safer than almost any prescription drug turns out to actually be really bad for you! Right. Making concentrates can concentrate not only active ingredients but also harmful contaminants. So, that's a good reason for better regulation - especially testing of finished products for contaminants. In most areas, one still can't easily take a product to a lab or store and get it tested for contaminants due to legalities.

Not trying to invoke confirmation bias or position of authority fallacy, but I am also in the industry. Last year, I spent thousands of dollars on lab tests. We're concerned about the health of our customers. That's why this year we have not used any pesticide at all, and even harvested crops with clear thrichrome to prevent the bad paranoia feeling that happens with THC and GABA inhibitor effect. My observation is not made up, this is asking medical doctors in the area specifically what they see. We have seen drammatic health increase with the heavy heavy heavy smokers/users that quit. The light users do not have this problem. The people I am talking about spend about $60 a day in drugs and use oils,dabs,wax extracts.

So you are saying Marijuana can help me lose weight..... I think you just sold it more.

My statistics is weak, so I apologize if this is a silly question. This study is about mortality, so the key outcome would be whether the subjects died or not. How do they know how long any dead person used marijuana (since they couldn't ask them now obviously)?

> The results showed marijuana users had a 3.42-times higher risk of death from hypertension than non-users, and a 1.04 greater risk for each year of use. There was no link between marijuana use and dying from heart or cerebrovascular diseases such as strokes.


That is weird. There are many ways to "die from hypertension," strokes and heart attacks among them. If there was no link to those outcomes, then what was the hypertension causing? Kidney disease? Cerebral hemorrhage?

Because the whole thing is bunk. Correlation does not mean causation.

They mention smoking it, isn't smoking ANYTHING be harmful to your cardiovascular health? What is the increased risk vs cigarettes vs cigars etc.? How does this hold up for users who smoke it vs. eat it?

Yup, was my first impression too. Smoking tires is bad for you, smoking socks is bad for you, smoking dope is bad for you. Don't smoke.

A double blind study between tire, sock and dope smokers would be more interesting than this study.

Processed Foods are just as risky, although one could argue that Marijuana use increases consumption of said processed foods. Maybe the munchy side effect is the actual cause of the increased risk.

Could the title be updated to indicate whether we are talking about smoking, or other means of ingestion? Smoke inhalation was already known to be bad, regardless of what the smoke was made from.

And yet it seems some are saying that the idea that smoking might cause blood pressure problems is preposterous because the smoke comes from marijuana.

With the 60 or so cannabinoids (http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.answers.php?question...) and 50 or so hydrocarbons there seems like a lot of scope for causing health issues. Especially given cannabis smoke is more carcinogenic than tobacco smoke.

None of that necessarily provides a reason to ban marijuana but it may give people reason to switch to safer modes of consumption, or taking of only specific active compounds.

Even still, a group that eats more White Castle burgers and similar high sodium food than the rest of the population will have higher blood pressure than the rest of the population.

People who are stressed out have hypertension and will look for ways to take stress away specifically using marijuana for that purpose. I wonder if that was factored in as you might have a pre-existing condition to make you more susceptible to hypertension. This type of study is questionable to me as it would be better to have a controlled double-blind study rather than manipulating data alone via questionaire.

>> "If marijuana use is implicated in cardiovascular diseases and deaths, then it rests on the health community and policy makers to protect the public."

Like how the policy makers protect the public from Alcohol, tobacco, and over-the-counter meds?

Also a 1200 person study isn't really enough to draw any major conclusions from.

Of course ingesting anything substance of any kind frequently over a period of time is bound to be harmful to some degree. What we need is context and not one-off sensationalist studies that are used as propaganda fodder on either side of the debate.

Policy makers do put quite a lot of work into protecting us from alcohol, tobacco and over the counter meds. Also, 1200 people is a fairly huge study, plenty to get some quality statistics from.

I'm not sure why you have been so offended by this research. It looks quite convincing to me, and fairly worrying.

The N of the study isn't the issue here. It's the large collection of other methodological details, such as self-reported survey data, and a lack of dose-response, that invalidate it for policy purposes.

When you say it "looks quite convincing", are you qualified to judge it on its merits?

I had a look, I'm not an expert in the area by any means, but at a reasonable glance it looks like a good study to me. Of course, it could be a giant fiddle (almost any experiment can be), but I try hard not to automatically assume studies which say what I like are good, and ones that say what I don't like are bad.

I'm sure there will be more research in this area, now that there is not the threat of jail if people report on their usage.

What did you have a look at? The article doesn't link to the study, so I'm going to just go off of questions that the article left me with.

First of all, what period did they look at, how many they expected to die, and how many of those did die. 1200 people sounds like a lot, but if their model said that 2.5 people should have died but 9 actually did, your results are extreme but the p-value isn't very high.

Further, do we trust the model that they had for how many should have died? They say what they did. But there are a lot of ways to tweak such a model, and p-hacking is naturally going to lead them to tweak it in ways that make the results look more significant.

Next, even if all of this is true, what is cause versus effect. Are people using marijuana to deal with life stress? If so, is the stress the real risk factor here?

There are a lot of things that can go wrong in a study, and most published studies are wrong. Until I see the methodology checked and the result replicated with a high reported p-value, I'm not trusting this study. Not because I don't like the outcome, but because that's simply how unreliable this type of science is.

Tell ya what. As a homework assignment, can you do enough stats research to do a reasonable critique of the methodology?

I am very interested in the answer key for this homework...

In all seriousness, I'd love a breakdown, and references for further study (on how to read medical papers, or scientific papers in general)

I suggest starting with "Primer on Biostatistics" by Glantz https://www.amazon.com/Primer-Biostatistics-Seventh-Glantz-P... which contains the basics you need to know to do analysis of stats analysis.

I haven't read it, but you'll probably want a book like https://www.amazon.com/Design-Studies-Medical-Research/dp/04... or https://www.amazon.com/Study-Design-Statistical-Analysis-Cli...

realistically you need at least a master's degree in a quantitative field to get the time and knowledge required to evaluate studies like this. I see a lot of armchair "scientists" trying to evaluate studies, it's very common to see basic mistakes in evaluating papers.

The difference between how you're treated for consuming alcohol (which as far as I'm aware is objectively more dangerous - and more immediately so to other people - than marijuana) and for consuming marijuana in most places is pretty ridiculous, to the point of almost seeming like satire. Alcohol also has a pretty significant (don't think it's quite this significant, granted) effect on coronary health, not to mention liver damager, etc. And yet the reason for the difference is that we just accepted alcohol prohibition doesn't work. But guess how easily you can get marijuana, even where it's illegal at the state and local level too...

To be clear, I think this is good research to be done. Better to know about this than not, obviously, and I hope it leads people to make some better life decisions. But I'm also anticipating that this is going to get held up as, "You see? It's the devil's grass!" in a very illogical and inconsistent way.

>But guess how easily you can get marijuana, even where it's illegal

Guess how easily you can get any drug.....even in prisons. If we can't keep drugs out of prison then what chance is there to keep it out of the general public?

The war on drugs is over. Drugs won. Legalize them all, provide accurate labeling, and tax it. There is nothing left to "debate".

>> The war on drugs is over. Drugs won.

I'd say they're winning, and will almost certainly continue to. I really wish, for many reasons, we could move that to past tense like you did.

I agree on your second point. 1200 people is a substantial population. However, we'd also need to read more about the details of the study to see how it was conducted and how controls were controlled and then, naturally, someone would have to reproduce the results using the same methodology.

There are plenty of questions to be asked of this study, but blithely dismissing the sample size while attacking the government (and the recommendation that they do more to protect the populace) are not the first two holes to poke at this study.

> 1200 people is a fairly huge study,

1200 people is a huge, convincing study for a well-executed prospective, interventional study, like a clinical trial. This is a cross-sectional retrospective study, using merged data from several different sources. Retrospective, epidemiological studies are notoriously subject to bias, particularly ones like this one.

Such retrospective studies are good for forming hypotheses about diseases in study populations (and often, intervention studies are not feasible), but they are often inadequate for testing these hypotheses. As the study authors say themselves, longitudinal studies are required to really draw strong inferences.

I'd have to read the study to be sure, and it's been a long time since I formally studied or worked in epidemiology/biostatistics, but some of the numbers mentioned in this article look fairly unconvincing. For example, this study found very little association between tobacco use and metabolic syndome, which goes against most available evidence. Also, things like having insurance and being married are associated with a significant increase in metabolic syndrome (not sure if this is in line with existing research, but it sounds kind of counterintuitive).

Given the current legal environment around marijuana use (I'm not sure what it's like in the UK), I doubt you'd be able to adequately control for other confounding variables in a study like this.

For example, is there a skew in demographics between users and non users? Socio-economic status? Other health indicators? Diet? Pre-existing hypertension? (Were people self-medicating?) Lifestyle? What about delivery? Is this a smoking-in-general related effect or would other forms of consumption also have the same effect?

1200 people is a pretty large study, but from this writeup, it isn't clear that they would be able to completely single out cannabis as the sole factor. I'd have to read the fully paper to know more.

That said -- it is a worrying concern and certainly a good enough reason to continue studying this potential effect. Hopefully they will be able to continue with lab based studies to try and find an underlying mechanism.

>It looks quite convincing to me, and fairly worrying.

That's how propaganda works.

I know it's anecdotal, but I've been a 3 or more times a day (everyday) smoker for over 11.5 years and I'm an no where near the risk of my overweight family members. Blood pressure has been fine and I'm an no risk of hypertension. Demand more proof if you're convinced by this. Something smells fishy. I would like to know how Snoop, Willie, and Morgan are holding up. They must be ready to keel over with how they smoke.

Hold on now, picking individual celebrity examples has some serious survivorship bias on its own. We don't hear from the ones who did experience early mortality.

Cannabis is a hard topic for Americans to talk about, because it's been so often unfairly demonized in the past, there's a pro-cannabis camp that sometimes won't admit any downside to it, fearing "Reefer Madness" style FUD which has been very common for decades.

But is it really all that surprising that smoking could be bad for your health, irrespective of what it is? My take would be that people shouldn't be persecuted for this, but that it's straightforwardly obvious that any smoking (and doubly so an unregulated plant that would reasonably be expected to vary tremendously in quality depending on supplier) -- would be harmful.

>picking individual celebrity examples has some serious survivorship bias on its own.

That's true my comment was partly serious and a bit facetious. And I don't think it's surprising that these are the results. We've known for decades smoking cigarettes of any kind are bad and caused hypertension. It's a major reason I quit smoking combustibles like cigarettes. It definitely has the potential to be harmful.

and don't rule out all the people that can't publicly state they use marihuana; because of law, etc etc.

Exactly. As a member of our security apparatus I can never reveal my daily use since age of 14. That was 35 years ago, and I am still the same serious athlete I always was, just a calmer one than when I can't smoke pot. From my anecdotal perspective, its the junk food and sitting around culture making people sick.

And this is how confirmation bias works. 'Something about this study feels fishy... what about these anecdotes?' You did call yourself out for being anecdotal, so I'm sure you see it. As a fellow daily smoker I very much want to pick holes in this as well.

True and I agree. But I think lifestyle choice has a lot to do with this sickness. I was never conscious about my health until about 3 years ago when I quit "smoking" and began only to vaporize. Maybe that has something to do with it. But I really think a lot of this sickness are results of a sedentary lifestyle. Something we knew was bad when we discovered sitting was the new cancer.

Totally with you there. I've been oscillating between smoking and vaporizing, and running and not running lately. I feel best, by a gigantic margin, when I am vaping and running >4x / week. I guess that's kind of a no brainer. I think you are correct that this has a lot to do with other factors. I know some lazy stoners, and I've been that lazy stoner.

> and I'm an no where near the risk of my overweight family members

Yep. The "three-fold" thing sounds awful but I didn't see the actual risk factor in the article. If it's 0.000001% and rises to 0.000003% that's a three-fold increase. If you're getting lots of other positive effects and quality of life effects from use then it may well be worth the risk.

If it resonates with your beliefs, it's a convincing study. If it is contrary to your beliefs (wants, desires), it's propaganda.

Just because consuming something regularly for 12 years raises your blood pressure doesn't mean it's a danger to the public that needs to be illegal. You might as well criminalize junk food. In a context of overblown fear and stigma around marijuana, the article should have at least put some perspective on the health risks, rather than having the message of, "Some people say marijuana has no health risks, but according to a study, there are. Be worried."

Actually, stoners are probably consuming a lot of processed food. Hmmm....

Not quite. I'm a lobbyist in the health care industry, and policy related to alcohol and tobacco are designed to meet a very different policy goal from over the counter medications. The latter is a can of worms beyond the scope of this but let's narrow to alcohol and tobacco.

First, alcohol is not as highly regulated as you might think. The contents of the bottle are not strongly regulated, and producers are actually forbidden under the law from listing the ingredients on the bottle.[3] How do you know you're drinking true vodka, and not a mixture of grain alcohol or something worse? Without testing there is no way to find out, and the government doesn't do that unless there is a strong reason to do so. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau regulates the label, they regulate those labels a LOT, but along with advertising that's about it.[4] The rest of alcohol regulation is devoted to keeping it away from those under 21, with some PSA's on pregnancy, alcoholism, etc.

Tobacco is almost as highly regulated. Science has proven, more than we can count, and completely indisputable, that tobacco use leads to serious, life threatening health concerns.[5] The best policy position to take on tobacco is to ban it, but they don't.[6] The next best thing would be to set standards that limit the chemicals in tobacco.[0][8] They don't. (Incidentally tobacco products weren’t even regulated by the FDA until 2009)[8] This leaves regulation on packaging, advertising [7], where you can smoke, but has become largely focused on keeping it away from children, and reducing smoking. So in a way the government might seem to be protecting us from tobacco, but in reality, they don't.

Marijuana on the other hand is so highly regulated[1] that it's been extremely difficult to even study it[2] to determine what health affects it might have. I'm not saying one is better than the other, but morality has driven policy on marijuana for so long that the policy research on marijuana legalization, is only now beginning to gain substance. Until marijuana is studied as much as tobacco and alcohol, all policy decisions will be unfairly biased by morality and personal opinion.

[0]. http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/smoking-facts/whats-in-a-ci... [1]. https://www.fda.gov/downloads/aboutfda/centersoffices/office... [2]. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/10/us/politics/medical-marij... [3]. http://www.foodpolitics.com/2010/11/nutrition-labeling-of-wi... [4]. https://www.ttb.gov/consumer/labeling_advertising.shtml [5]. https://betobaccofree.hhs.gov/health-effects/smoking-health/... [6]. http://www.denverpost.com/2008/08/13/why-congress-wont-ban-t... [7]. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/fdas-graphic-cigarette-labels-ru... [8]. http://gizmodo.com/the-fda-is-cracking-down-on-american-spir...

I'm not offended. I encourage more studies to be done! 1200 is a large number of people, but not large relative to the number of people who consume regularly.

What I'm railing against is "news" articles that don't contextualize or think critically about the studies that are being performed, and try to generate clicks through buzz-word filled headlines.

> 1200 is a large number of people, but not large relative to the number of people who consume regularly.

Ratio of sample to population size is mostly irrelevant for statistics. The strength of conclusions from a sample is calculated based on an infinite population size.

Recognize that this knee jerk reaction is your brain's attempt at dismissing the study and move on.

It's easy to dismiss studies that have a large number of caveats and no strict way of measuring use.

yea i had a hard time making sense of the paper, probably my fault. it seemed like they didn't control for obesity, and it also seemed like alcohol had a much stronger correlation. I would love to hear from someone that can properly read it though. I also find it interesting that the odds for marijuana users are 1.05 per year but, e.g. marriage is 1.17, alcohol 1.84 etc, yet the conclusion is about marijuana.

Bias: I am a non-drinking, unmarried, low-blood pressure, no cholesterol, extremely underweight stoner


The headline could have been...

> Marriage greater risk to heart than cannabis: report

But that wouldn't sell as well.

1200 person study is a pretty big study. That said, the authors of the study themselves listed some pretty big caveats.


Then the problem is not with the creators of the trials, but those who are reporting them with insufficient characterizing information.

Those are some pretty big caveats...

A 1213 participant study, of which 72.5% are assumed still alive. So ~334 people. Maybe the other 879 people will live longer happier lives.

Source: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2047487317723212

It's a self-fulfilling prophecy study

> Like how the policy makers protect the public from Alcohol, tobacco, and over-the-counter meds?

Well... yeah. Exactly like that. State and local laws cover when and where you can drink and smoke. The federal FDA extensively regulates OTC medications. HHS and ATF have extensive jurisdiction here too. And of course there is a very large private sector component made up of groups like AA, AlAnon and MADD that seek to address some of the social problems substance abuse causes.

I mean, you seem to be invoking sarcasm here, but in fact these substances are very heavily regulated right now. You need to expect weed to fall into the same category as it becomes legal and better-studied.

I didn't mean to imply it shouldn't be regulated. From the way the article worded it made it seem like it was policy makers duty to protect the public from "reefer madness".

Yes those other things have regulations and restrictions, but how many alcohol related deaths have there been this year? How many heroin over doses that stemmed from prescription abuse?

My point is that context is necessary for these types of studies.

>>> "Also a 1200 person study isn't really enough to draw any major conclusions from."

You can draw strong conclusions off of a smaller sample size.

This study is not conclusive, and the sensationalized headlines aren't helping.

I was looking for more information about the #s involved. Is my risk going from .00001% to .00003%? What am I really looking at, here?

Don't forget coffee. I need the government to protect me from my cups, every day. What to do???

There are a couple of things about this study that are puzzling to me.

First, I'm a little confused about how to interpret the finding that hypertension related deaths increased, but not stroke or heart attack; I have not been aware of hypertension as a common direct cause of death. For example the textbook "Cardiology Explained" states that: "If untreated, hypertension has serious consequences, including renal disease, myocardial infarction (MI), and cerebrovascular accident." Most general literature that I can recall reading seemed to similarly characterize high blood pressure as a risk factor for other causes of death.

Second, the author of study states "Support for liberal marijuana use is partly due to claims that it is beneficial and possibly not harmful to health." Who is supporting "liberal marijuana use"? Support for "liberal use" is not implied by support for decriminalization.

I hope that press release has left out some sort of context or attribution for this, because it is making it hard for me to take the study seriously.

Here is the meat of the abstract, and a link to the full text of the study: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/2047487317723212

"Method: 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 mor- tality 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.

Results: Of the 1213 eligible participants 72.5% were presumed to be alive. The total follow-up time was 19,569 person-years. Adjusted hazard ratios for death from hypertension among marijuana users compared to non-marijuana users was 3.42 (95% confidence interval: 1.20–9.79) and for each year of marijuana use was 1.04 (95% confidence interval:1.00–1.07).

Conclusion: From our results, marijuana use may increase the risk for hypertension mortality. Increased duration of marijuana use is associated with increased risk of death from hypertension. Recreational marijuana use potentially has cardiovascular adverse effects which needs further investigation."

> Like how the policy makers protect the public from Alcohol, tobacco, and over-the-counter meds?

... Yes? Those are all heavily regulated and/or massively taxed.

Adding soda, bike riding, swimming, TV/internet/gaming addiction...

Sometime freedom means the freedom to make what others think are bad decisions.

Are they self-selecting a vasodilatory (THC) and anti-inflammatory treatment (due, in part to an Omega 3 deficiency)?


Why do people constantly jump to the defensive when any study comes out saying marijuana is bad for you? Whether it is or not shouldn't be an issue. The true question is whether it matters and why should the government be meddling in what grown people decide to put in their own body.

It's confusing that the study had a breakdown of "Never", "Non-regular", and "Regular", but the results of the study don't seem to highlight whether the regular and non-regular groups had a similar or different result.

The only case I've ever heard of someone dying from using marijuana was my grandfather. He was diabetic and ate too many sweets after getting the munchies. Honestly, probably how he would have wanted to go out anyways.

Very well could be true but still is less harmful than legal tobacco and alcohol

It's pretty hard to be more harmful than alcohol, though.

Tobacco, that's more harmful than alcohol.

Hmm, how so? I've never heard of anyone driving while under the influence of tobacco and killing a bunch of people or cheating on her husband or beating her kids.

You're going off on a tangent then.

You probably should have made that clear though.

I'm going by published research: http://www.thelancet.com/cms/attachment/2001010052/200378674...

I don't know what you're going by.

Didn't read the article or the study, so take my comment with a grain of salt.

My guess is the HN title should probably be:

"Unmoderated ingestion of unhealthy food after smoking marijuana holds three-fold blood pressure death risk"

Was it the weed or the munchies? I'd say insulin related from munchies.

This was my guess too. There is a strong overlap between weed smokers and daily fast food eaters.

Or sodium intake related to the munchies.

Many heavy users do not typically make the healthiest life choices, at least in my anecdata.

First, I don't see any actual link to an actual study.

Second, even if this is true, I'm a fucking adult and can make my own decisions. It changes nothing about my support for legalization especially when shit like tobacco and alcohol are legal which we know for sure cause hundreds of thousands of deaths each year.

Third, from the Oregonian link below because the actual link provides little detail: "But it did not take other cardiovascular risk factors into account, including diet and exercise." Oh yes, let's ignore the most obvious causes of heart problems completely. Surely they couldn't possibly be responsible.

I believe it. Everytime my friend dabbled, his heart raced.

That said, there are so many third variables that are associated with adult chronic usage (no pun intended) of marijuana that covariates may have a hard time removing their influence. What is needed is a mechanism, shown in animal and cellular models with random assignment. I haven't had the chance to read; was one proposed?

Mostly missed in the comments is that marijuana is safer than marriage.

Are they self-selecting a vasodilatory treatment?

Repeat after me:

"Correlation is not causation."

Link to study?

What is this stat with alcohol use?

Or sodas? Or sugar in general?

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