Does Cannabis Use Lead to Premature Death?

The health effects of cannabis are undeniable, with the plant substance being linked to a reduction ofa large number of conditions, including arthritis, chronic pain, skin cancer and more. There is a ton of research and more is being released as investigations are ongoing. In past times there was no real incentive for researchers to investigate the benefits of cannabis but now that legalization has become a reality across the USA, there are a number of studies being instigated, and there seems to be no end in sight to what cannabis can do.

This is because cannabis mimics an endocannabinoid found in the human body. There is a particular theory linking improper endocannabinoid function to nearly every type of disease, and this is because the endocannabinoid is in fact linked to everything. It controls memory, emotions, sleep, hunger, pain, pleasure and temperature. If this is true, it would explain why cannabis is so effective at treating such a wide range of conditions. It simply targets the deficient area, acting as the deficient endocannabinoid and resolving the problem. What can safely be said about cannabis is that there has not been a single conclusive study linking cannabis to any sort of permanent long-term damage. It is as safe as you can get.

Cannabis and Premature Death

Despite the advantages of cannabis, this is not to say it is not without its drawbacks. It is still a rather new industry and it does not simply evaporate illnesses and conditions. Consistent use of high quality cannabis usually does alleviate symptoms of many conditions or at very worst helps patients with pain as it sends them off to a deep slumber.

New research has indicated that users of cannabis may actually have a shortened lifespan and be at a higher risk of developing psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia in later life.  The recent study, completed by Karolinska Institutet researchers, has been published in The American Journal of Psychology.Cannabis use increases the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders later in life, something that the researchers reported in a previous paper after having followed up all men who were enlisted for military service in 1969–70. At this time, the men answered questions on drug use; today, they are around 60, an age when any harmful long-time effects of cannabis use can start to show.The researchers therefore made a new follow-up to find out if the mortality rate was higher amongst men who reported using cannabis in their youth.According to lead author Edison Garcia:

 “A fresh WHO report has shown that cannabis has extensive effects on the health, even if the mental effects are the most salient”

The study was not small, and consisted of 50,000 men. The researchers noted that the men who smoked the heaviest in their youth were 40% more likely to die between the period of 1970 to 2011 than those who reported light and infrequent use. Researchers also found that the correlation remained even when controlling for other factors affecting mortality, such as alcohol use, mental illness and childhood/adolescent social problems. This study reinforces an earlier study completed which demonstrated that frequent cannabis use by young adults resulted in lower IQs and lower test scores, as well as an increased change of psychological illnesses later in life.


There are some criticisms of the study, one being that the study was funded by cannabis prohibitionist agencies. The other being that the study focused on heavy marijuana users, which might not be representative of the average marijuana user. Another valid criticism is that the same set of researchers published similar findings in a different study, linking marijuana usage to premature death. And finally, the Swedish research team did no demonstrate how cannabis use could lead to premature death, only that it did. This means that there is a correlation, and not a causation. This is big deal in science. Most of the public will believe that cannabis use leads to premature death on reading the study findings. Which is not the case. There is a correlation between cannabis use and premature death, but if the people born in that particular time period who were heavy smoked marijuana were statistically more likely to take crystal meth, which is to blame? The crystal methor the marijuana? In that era of prohibition surely heavy marijuana users were also more likely to engage in crime, drugs and bad practices? There are hundreds of these types of questions. These people most likely have an underlying risk factor which is not the cannabis itself. The risk factor could be anything from mood disorders to risk taking behavior. An Australian study has shown that marijuana dependency is a symptom of mental illness as opposed to the other way around.

An Inconclusive Conclusion

The study demonstrates nothing concrete. It seems that people who were predisposed to smoke marijuana in their early years are more likely to have an underlying risk factor which leads to a premature death. Marijuana is by and large a safe plant with little or no side effects. Still, it might be a good idea to stick to moderation and some weekend recreational marijuana. Smoking marijuana every day for prolonged periods is just not an intelligent option, but to each their own.

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