Marijuana: Legal or Not, It May Have Heart Risks

As marijuana increasingly enters our national dialogue—whether for legal recreational use or medical use—it’s time to consider the health effects of the drug. Whereas we understand the long- and short-term risks of other commonly used substances, HeartHealthIllustrationBW285such as alcohol and tobacco, marijuana’s health effects are less widely understood. Outside of outcomes such as decreased short-term memory, impaired motor skills, and paranoia, some users even consider the drug safe.

Recent findings, however, suggests that marijuana may have some very real health risks, namely to the heart and cardiovascular system. When researchers in France analyzed reports of health complications related to marijuana use between 2006 and 2010, they found that nearly 2 percent (or 35 out of almost 2,000 reports) were cardiac events. These patients were mostly young men, with an average age of 34.

According to the study, marijuana-related cardiac complications could have very serious consequences: nine of the patients included in the report died as a result. That translates to a death rate of almost 27 percent.

The study of marijuana and heart risks is relatively new, so we don’t yet clearly understand the significance of the link. But because findings do suggest that marijuana use may increase your risk of cardiac complications, you may want to think twice about using the drug, legal or not.


Jouanjus E, Lapeyre-Mestre M, Micallef J. Cannabis Use: Signal of Increasing Risk of Serious Cardiovascular Disorders. Journal of the American Heart Association. doi: 10.1161/ JAHA.113.000638.