Study finds that long-term cannabis users are physically healthier than non-cannabis users

  • 1,037 New Zealanders were studied over 38 year period
  • Researchers found cannabis users have superior metabolic health than non-cannabis users
  • The only negative effect cannabis has on the physical body is in the teeth

A study has found evidence that cannabis doesn’t harm the human body, even with long-term use.

Researchers at Arizona State University analysed data from a group of 1,037 New Zealanders who were followed from the day they were born until they reached age 38.

The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, led by Madeline Meier, investigated whether long-term cannabis use presents a threat to the human body.

Specifically, researchers investigated whether cannabis use from age 18 to 38 impacted upon multiple aspects of physical health, measured at 18, 21, 26, 32, and 38 via self-reports and lab tests.

Of these, 484 participants claimed to use tobacco daily, with 675 stating they had used cannabis at least once in their life.

Researchers found evidence that cannabis use over a period of time showed signs of positively impacting users metabolism. Long-term cannabis users had slimmer waisted, lower BMIs, and better HDL cholesterol than non-cannabis users.

By contrast, the study found that tobacco use was connected to compromised metabolic health, an increase in inflammation, an, perhaps obviously, worse lung function.

In fact, it seems that the only long-term negative impact cannabis has on physical health is on the teeth. By 38, cannabis users had worse periodontal health than non-users, although this may due to cannabis-users smoking it with tobacco.

While the results of the study help challenge some negative stigmas attached to cannabis, specifically those relating to ill physical health, an earlier study from the same researchers found that cannabis can negatively impact the developing brain.

Meier and her team used the data from the same group of New Zealanders, finding that consistent and heavy use of cannabis among teenagers could hinder the brain from fully developing.

Researchers found that regular use of cannabis before the age of 18 was associated with a potential 8 point stunt in IQ.

Cannabis use for up to 20 years is associated with periodontal disease but is not associated with other physical health problems in early midlife.
– Madeline H. Meier, PhD

However, adults who start using cannabis after 18, even heavy use, saw no such decline in IQ potential.

Years of anti-cannabis propaganda has potentially set back medical research decades. Studies like the two conducted by Meier and her team are helping challenge arguments against legalising cannabis for medicinal use.

The current British Government consistently refuses to listen to scientific advice on cannabis. The All Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform advised that the Conservative Government grant patients legal access to cannabis, even going as far as recommending that the Government “decriminalise home growing of small quantities of cannabis for medicinal purposes as is the case in Uruguay and some American States.”

Unfortunately, the Conservatives decided to ignore the advice of leading experts on cannabis, choosing to pursue a policy which only enriched themselves.

So far, the only legal cannabis in the UK is grown by British Sugar (Victoria Atkins, the Drugs Minister, is married to Paul Kenward, the managing director of British Sugar), and produced by GW Pharmaceuticals (Phillip May, husband of British PM Theresa, is their largest investor).

With more research confirming that cannabis helps, rather than hinders, our health, it is becoming less tenable for corrupt politicians to withhold legal access to cannabis.

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