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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 10, 2017

    thumbs_upTrauma patients who test positive for marijuana upon their admission to the intensive care unit are less likely to die during hospitalization than are age-matched controls, according to data published online ahead of print in The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.

    A team of researchers from the University of Arizona analyzed the in-hospital mortality rates of adults admitted into the ICU over a five-year period, of which 2,678 were matched (1,339: marijuana positive, 1,339 marijuana negative).

    Authors concluded: “Patients with a positive marijuana screen had a lower mortality rate (5.3 percent versus 8.9 percent) compared to patients with a negative marijuana screen. … Prospective studies with long-term follow up will be useful in answering many of the remaining questions surrounding the specific impact of marijuana on outcomes after trauma.”

    Prior studies have similarly reported greater survival rates among marijuana-positive patients hospitalized for traumatic brain injuries and heart attacks as compared to matched controls.

    An abstract of the study, “How does marijuana effect outcomes after trauma in ICU patients? A propensity matched analysis,” appears online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 3, 2008

    Ever wonder why the studies purporting to ‘prove’ marijuana’s health risks only recruit subjects who smoke pot 24 hours a day, seven days a week?

    Heavy marijuana use shrinks brain parts
    via Reuters  

    Brain scans showed the hippocampus and amygdala were smaller in men who were heavy marijuana users compared to nonusers.  … The men had smoked at least five marijuana cigarettes daily for on average 20 years.    

    The answer: If they didn’t, there wouldn’t be any purported risks left to write about.

    I mean, seriously, imagine if these scientists had tried recruiting 15 subjects who drank at least five shots of vodka every day for 20 years? That is, if they could find 15 subjects who were still alive.

    Marijuana may up heart attack, stroke risk
    via Reuters

    Heavy marijuana use can boost blood levels of a particular protein, perhaps raising a person’s risk of a heart attack or stroke, U.S. government researchers said on Tuesday. …The marijuana users in the study averaged smoking 78 to 350 marijuana cigarettes per week.

    The study did not look at whether the heavy marijuana users actually had heart disease. 

    So here we go again. Three-hundred and fifty joints per week?! Who are these people? And what’s with the caveat at the end of the story? If the purpose of the study is to assess whether there might be a link between ridiculously heavy pot use and heart disease, then why not, you know, look to see whether the subjects actually suffered from heart disease? (Likely answer: Aside from the abnormal protein level, the patients were probably otherwise healthy.)

    Bottom line: smoking pot all day, every day probably isn’t good for you (though I find it interesting that, even among the most prolific pot users, most of the herb’s purported dangers are either speculative or are only apparent on hyper-sensitive brain scans and multi-tiered neurocognitive tests). Fortunately, 99.9 percent of pot smokers don’t behave this way.

    And no, it’s not prohibition that curbs their use habits; it’s the recognition that too much pot is not conducive to an otherwise healthy, responsible lifestyle (just as pounding five shots a day wouldn’t be conducive to, well, life).

    So what lesson can be learned from the two studies above (aside from the fact that our government has no interest in investigating the health of ordinary cannabis consumers)? It’s that pot, like alcohol, is best consumed in moderation, and that pot prohibition — even when compared to the excessive use of the drug itself — still poses the greatest threat to health.