Another Study, More Hysterical Conclusions About the Risks of Cannabis
This week we've read at least half a dozen headlines about how cannabis is going to blow up your heart.
Here's one so you get the flavor of the emergency-du-jour: "Marijuana Use Holds Three-Fold Blood Pressure Death Risk" in the HuffPo.
These and other breathless headlines lured readers to cannabis canards like:
cannabis users are "three-times more likely to die" than non-users; and
cannabis is "a greater risk factor than cigarettes".
As is typical in these stories, there was a study (at Georgia State University) and scientists were involved.
What makes this type of propaganda stand out is when EXCITABLE WRITERS AND EDITORS get a hold of any story about cannabis. The URGE TO EXAGGERATE is often uncontrollable... We, on the other hand, are totally cool :)
HERE'S THE REAL STORY
No telling whether any of the participants used cannabis more than once: In this study, a "[cannabis] user" is defined as a person who has ever used cannabis*, NOT a consistent or even current user. "In order to calculate the duration of marijuana use among participants, the researchers subtracted the age at first marijuana use from subjects' current age." (Is that garbage logic or what?)
The diagnosis of "high blood pressure" was extrapolated from general health data probabilities - those in the study did not have high blood pressure. Another leap of logic was used to connect immediate cannabis effects to long term trend - HuffPo reports that "since [cannabis] is known to affect the cardiovascular system' then it can be concluded that a cannabis users are 3.42 times more likely to die from the chronic condition of high blood pressure. We need a parachute to take a leap like that .
The "results" could be seen as skewed by the agenda of the study leaders. Also, one of the scientists makes extremely presumptuous statements on the public policy concerns (does that MD give you a pass into politics?) Said Barbara Yankey, a PhD student (not an MD, not even an MD student?) "Support for liberal marijuana use is partly due to claims that it is beneficial and possibly not harmful to health. With the impending increase in recreational marijuana use it is important to establish whether any health benefits outweigh the potential health, social and economic risks. If marijuana use is implicated in cardiovascular diseases and deaths, then it rests on the health community and policy makers to protect the public."
Regardless of whether the studies were valid - - we feel the reporting was not very thoughtful.
Image source: http://healthiack.com/health/blood-pressure-a-health-indicator