A new study out of New Zealand shows that there are very little long-term health risks from smoking marijuana. The findings, published recently in JAMA Psychiatry, show that across a wide range of possible health problems, marijuana smoking may only lead to one: gum disease.
“In general, our findings showed that cannabis use over 20 years was unrelated to health problems in early midlife,” the study said. “Across several domains of health (periodontal health, lung function, systemic inflammation, and metabolic health), clear evidence of an adverse association with cannabis use was apparent for only one domain, namely, periodontal health.”
The study controlled for many factors, including socioeconomic status as well as self-reported brushing and flossing habits. It compared cannabis smokers, non-smokers and those who smoked tobacco. Not only did cannabis smokers fare much better than tobacco smokers, in some instances they fared better than non-smokers as well.
"We can see the physical health effects of tobacco smoking in this study, but we don't see similar effects for cannabis smoking," said Madeline Meier, an assistant professor of psychology at Arizona State University and the lead author on the study. Some marijuana smokers also showed signs of better metabolic health than non-smokers.
Cigarette smokers, of course, showed signs of declining health in many areas.
As for why marijuana smokers showed poorer dental health, it remains to be seen. It could be that the smoke from marijuana is able to damage the gums while the inhaled cannabis is able to metabolize in the users system, allowing cannabinoids to interact with each other and mitigate any adverse effects.
So just to be on the safe side, if you smoke marijuana, brush and floss and use more mouth wash.