Earlier this week, the American Heart Association (AHA) reportedly made two public statements regarding marijuana that seemed to contradict each other — sort of.
First came a claim that smoking weed is dangerous to cardiovascular health and should be avoided. At the same time, however, the AHA called for cannabis to be removed as a Schedule 1 drug so that scientists can research it freely.
It’s difficult not to interpret the underlying message of these apparently disparate stances as: “Weed is bad for your overall health, but it’s a good way for us to get more money so we can conduct more studies to show that cannabis is bad.”
Usually organizations like to hide the fact they have an agenda. But, let’s look at the individual statements and try to keep our heart rates in check.
Following a study published Wednesday in the journal Circulation, Dr. Rose Marie Robertson, the AHA’s deputy chief science and medical officer, said in a statement, “People who use cannabis need to know there are potentially serious health risks in smoking or vaping it, just like tobacco smoke. The American Heart Association recommends that people not smoke or vape any substance, including cannabis products, because of the potential harm to the heart, lungs and blood vessels.”
The study itself reportedly found “no cardiovascular benefits” in ingesting weed and claims that doing so may “trigger cardiovascular conditions or events, such as heart attacks and strokes.”
Addressing those alleged concerns, an AHA writing group led by clinical physician Robert Page II suggested that if people use cannabis medicinally or recreationally in measured doses, particularly in the oral and topical forms, some of the potential harms could be reduced.
Page’s group statement also called for regulators to standardize THC and CBD concentrations in legal weed and — in a potential move that might directly benefit the AHA — declared that cannabis should be rescheduled so more government funds can be directed toward its research.
“We urgently need carefully designed, prospective short- and long-term studies regarding cannabis use and cardiovascular safety as it becomes increasingly available and more widely used,” Page stated. “Research funding at federal and state levels must be increased to match the expansion of cannabis use.”
Did everybody catch that last part about “research funding… must be increased”?
Don’t get us wrong: We obviously need more research on cannabis, and we want it rescheduled (but descheduling might be better!). It’s just hard to trust an organization that uses its “findings” to release blanket statements such as “Weed is bad.” It doesn’t seem like the AHA is interested in genuine reform that will mend the wrongs of the Drug War by clearing recordings, pardoning convictions, and granting clemency to people sitting behind bars for a plant that is legal in some form across the majority of the US.
Sure, smoking anything can have adverse effects on our health. But, numerous studies have already demonstrated the myriad benefits of marijuana when it comes to cardiovascular well-being and other health issues, particularly when cannabis is ingested orally.
One 2018 study from the University of Colorado concluded that weed users have a better chance of surviving a heart attack. A University of Mississippi Medical Center study published this past June also found no evidence whatsoever linking to an increased risk of strokes.
In other studies, hypertension patients saw a drop in blood pressure after using weed and researchers noted positive effects of cannabis on mice in slowing the progress of atherosclerosis and offering protection against chronic chronic heart failure.
The American Heart Association may have their own agenda in calling for rescheduling, but so do we: Legalize weed now because weed is good for you, and the Drug War is a racist fallacy designed to oppress Black and people of color.