While marijuana may be legal in many states, its safety remains a subject of debate. Harvard Health highlights the potential risks marijuana poses to the heart. Smoking marijuana can cause the heart to beat faster and blood pressure to rise, which may be perilous for those with heart disease. Research suggests the risk of heart attack is significantly higher in the hour after smoking marijuana.
Cannabis, derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, contains toxins, irritants, and carcinogens found in cigarette smoke, which are known contributors to heart disease and cancer. Harvard Health advises against smoking cannabis as it can inflame the lungs. Safer alternatives include under-the-tongue tinctures, edibles, topicals, or dry herb vaporizers. It’s also recommended not to hold cannabis smoke in the lungs for more than a second or two, as it does not enhance the effect but rather aggravates lung irritation.
Memory and cognitive functions are also areas of concern. The psychoactive chemical in marijuana, THC, binds to receptors in the brain critical for memory formation, such as the hippocampus, amygdala, and cerebral cortex. The effects of marijuana on memory are notable, especially with long-term use. A Harvard Medical School study found that long-term cannabis users showed an average decline of 5.5 points in IQ and had deficits in learning and processing speed compared to non-users.
However, it’s important to consider that these findings may not apply universally. The frequency and amount of cannabis use play a significant role in determining its effects. For instance, Harvard Gazette discusses the difference in cannabis use compared to alcohol, noting that problems arise for cannabis users who consume it daily, multiple times a day.
Despite its increasing legality, questions remain about cannabis’ safety and effects on health. As research continues, it’s crucial to approach cannabis use with caution, particularly for individuals with existing health conditions.