Some health concerns with cannabis

There may not be any documented cases of people dying from a cannabis overdose, but there are still some real health issues that could pop up from consuming it, especially through smoking.

Don’t get me wrong here. There’s quite a bit of positive research out there about the plant – including several studies suggesting it can shrink tumors and help with a variety of illnesses (just have a look through the links below).

But there are also a few things that consumers should be careful about and consider when they decide to check out legal marijuana for the first time.

Mother plant

The two biggest risks, as far as I’ve seen, are respiratory illness, like bronchitis, from smoking, and the drug’s potential to sometimes increase a person’s resting heart rate.

Another risk, most often seen in edibles, is that a person will consume too much of the drug and have a bad experience, and/or behave in a way that endangers them or others (like some reports of people consuming several times the recommended dose of edibles and then jumping to their deaths).

So far, there are no studies I’ve seen linking smoking the drug to lung cancer (if anything they tend to show lung cancer rates are slightly lower than average), but smoking can still irritate the respiratory system. If you’re prone to bronchitis or sinus problems, you may want to consider using a different consumption method, like vaping or edibles.

Also, anybody with a heart problem should probably check with their doctor prior to using cannabis, because studies have shown that it can increase resting heart rate.

As to overdosing on edibles – the best advice before using them is to do your homework first. Take a half of the recommended dosage to start, wait at least an hour and a half before taking any more, and then learn how your body reacts to it accordingly.

There are a host of positive medical applications that go along with that. It’s been used in the medical marijuana sector to treat pain, nausea, insomnia, vascular issues, seizures and many other things (several studies are linked below).

But I think it’s important to also understand that it’s not all roses. As with beer, cigarettes or anything else out there in the big wide world, the best advice is to learn about what you’re using before you consume it.

Anyway, that’s my two cents for the day. Be careful out there – and enjoy!

-SueVo (sue.vorenberg@columbian.com)

Science and research

National Cancer Institute Cannabis Q&A – with evidence of it treating various things.
Leaf Science
Web MD Marijuana Research Science page
NIDA – (which has been criticized for only funding negative research)
NORML recent research page (Research listed by the largest marijuana advocacy group)
Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (at UC San Diego)
Science Daily marijuana news
Sanjay Gupta on why he changed his mind about marijuana
Marijuana Policy Project (Advocacy group) list of medical marijuana study references.
Humboldt University list of marijuana research
University of Washington learn about marijuana page.
60 peer-reviewed studies on medical marijuana
Marijuana clinical studies and case reports.