Illustration by James Stanton

Illustration by James Stanton

Smoke Weed (And Brush Your Teeth) Every Day

Are there any other detrimental side effects of smoking weed all the damn time?

A poll conducted by Yahoo News and Marist University last year revealed over 35 million citizens of this beautiful country are using cannabis on a “regular” basis, which that survey defined as folks who used cannabis at least “once or twice a month.”

And while that’s cute and all, some of us are a bit more “committed” to our cannabis use. A new study from researchers at Columbia University released back in June suggests that daily cannabis use (defined by those researchers as folks who use cannabis at least 300 days out of a year) among adults has been steadily increasing since 2007. Unfortunately, they didn’t provide hard numbers of how many people are smoking daily.

So far on record, there have been no credible reports of cannabis-related deaths from overdoses. But are there any other detrimental side effects of smoking weed all the damn time?

I found several articles on well-meaning drug awareness sites like treatment centers (and not-so-well-meaning conservative news sites), and they all seem to sing the same refrain: chronic weed use will fuck up your memory, tank your libido, and sap your energy, leaving you lazy and unmotivated, just to name a few. These same side effects are repeated so often it starts to feel like a script. Especially when compared to the lived experiences of myself and many stoners around the world who experience increased focus and creativity at work, as well as increased sexual arousal response with lovers.

Further, cannabis has been charged by some of these news sources with increasing the risk for testicular cancer and increasing the risk for “psychotic behavior.” Cannabis has been “modestly” linked to schizophrenia as well as pulmonary and cardiovascular health issues.

The truth is, several studies have shown that yes, consistent cannabis use can impact your memory — but only your short-term memory, meaning that if you need to recall something from six months ago, you’ll most likely be fine, but you should probably make a list before heading to the grocery store. It’s probably from this effect that the “dopey” stoner archetype is born, unable to remember anything or stay focused on the task at hand.

However, much of this was nullified when Time magazine quietly released an article covering a cannabis study published in JAMA Psychiatry in 2016. Researchers worked with over 1,000 New Zealanders, following them from birth to age 38. Specifically, the researchers looked at the Kiwis’ cannabis usage from ages 18 to 38 and endeavored to track any and all health effects.

Taking into account other health factors like drinking and smoking tobacco, the researchers concluded that after 20 years of “regular” cannabis use, (recorded over the years through lab tests and self-reports), the only substantive adverse effect that consistently showed up was… reduced periodontal health. Stoners had compromised dental health compared to their non-stoned peers. That’s it.

Further, researchers noted that the New Zealander stoners displayed a lower body mass index (BMI), smaller waist circumference and healthier HDL cholesterol numbers, smashing the reputation stoners have for being snack-laden couch potatoes.

All this said, too much of a good thing could still be too much, so just for the sake of shits and giggles, here are some loving reminders for all you veteran tokers out there.

Drink more water — it’s always good for you. Make sure you are getting some fresh air during epic smoking sessions. Sit up straight and take some long deep breaths and empty out your lungs or go for short walks. And last but not least, have some excellent — and healthy — snack options on hand. And maybe some floss.

stashbox@seattleweekly.com

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