Marijuana and heart attacks?

Couple stories out there this week out of Europe that say cannabis use can cause cardiovascular problems, including one that tries to link two heart attack deaths to it.

But the science here looks iffy at best.

(Illustration by Marsha Matta, The Columbian)
(Illustration by Marsha Matta, The Columbian)

I’m all for a real scientific investigation of the pros and cons of marijuana use. It hasn’t been well studied because of the drug’s illegal status in most of the world.

But a real study generally involves two large bodies of test subjects – one given a placbo and one given the actual substance.

The story about two deaths out of Germany, on the other hand, looks only at two patients – both of whom had used marijuana and died of heart complications – and concluded that the drug must have killed them because it didn’t appear to be caused by any other substance.

Yet at the same time that story also said they couldn’t rule out that the two could have been predisposed genetically to heart complications.

So the fact that two pot smokers who may have been predisposed to heart complications died – out of how many other pot smokers – doesn’t seem like a very solid link to me.

And I’m not saying there may not be a link to cardiovascular issues, but we need to do real science on this, not half-handed speculation disguised as science.

In another story, researchers looked at 2,000 reported complications from marijuana and found 2 percent of them had cardiovascular issues.

Again, fishing through a list of problems with no control group, then finding what seems like a percentage rate that would be comparable to the general population, if not much less – just doesn’t appear to be good science to me.

We need more real university science about marijuana and health effects – and it should at least in part be funded by legalization tax revenue. It also shouldn’t require that the pot come from one federal government facility controlled by an agency that’s been reluctant to allow studies looking at potential medical benefits from the plant.

In Washington, I502 allows for a small amount of research funding at the state’s two main universities. There should be a lot more, in my opinion. We still have a lot to learn about this plant – which has been used as folk medicine for thousands of years, yet hasn’t been studied much in the age of science.

That’s my two cents anyway.

How about you? What do you think?