Campus, News

Marijuana has no adverse effects on health, BU study suggests

Boston Medical Center and Boston University School of Medicine researchers found marijuana use does not have a significant correlation with health service utilization or health status, said Daniel Fuster, BUSM researcher.

Researchers performed several randomized trials on patients who tested positive for marijuana, alcohol and other substances at a primary care unit, Fuster said. The patients were analyzed to see if their marijuana use had any impact on their health, he said.

“The results were that there is no impact, if we compare those who continually use cannabis … in comparison to those who have been tested positive for alcohol or other substances that they have consumed,” Fuster said.

Researchers obtained the patients’ other medical records and found no health differences between those who use marijuana daily and those who do not.

Fuster explained he was slightly surprised by the results, but since the study focused exclusively on cannabis users, his findings are difficult to interpret and are not representative of a wider population. He said he plans to further this study in the future to produce more accurate results.

“The idea would be to compare this analysis on a population that consumes alcohol or other substances and also include patients of similar characteristics who do not consume such substances so we could see if there was any impact on health,” Fuster said.

Kathryn Rifkin, Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition clerk, said she is not surprised by the results, as the science behind it suggests that despite some marijuana consumption, the activity will not have a debilitative effect on their health.

“No matter what, you don’t go to the emergency room,” Rifkin said. “The worst you’re going to do, is you’re going to go to bed, and wake up refreshed the next morning. Hemp is an amazing plant in all regards.”

Rifkin said researchers have been studying the effects of marijuana for years, but much of the research has been done overseas because the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration did not allow such research to be done in America.

“This [marijuana] is the most studied plant in the world … and they have been running a test on this plant since forever,” Rifkin said. “The frustrating part is that all of the medical papers are being published all over the place, and it’s been kind of ignored until now.”

Aishani Patwari, a College of Arts and Sciences freshman, said since several studies have proven marijuana to be harmless to one’s health, there is no reason for there to be such a negative social stigma attached to it.

“It has no effect on you, and it doesn’t really do anything because there is no addictive quality to it,” Patwari said. “It doesn’t affect you in the physical sense — it is more of a mental thing.”

Claire Young, a College of Communication senior, said she has heard about a lot of research concerning the effects of marijuana, and she does not think that Fuster’s research particularly stands out among the rest.

“I’ve heard both sides, one being that it is more detrimental than alcohol, and the other side that it has absolutely not effect, and that alcohol is actually worse for you, along with cigarettes being worse for you,” Young said. “Obviously smoking anything has a detrimental effect on the lungs.”

Sasha Parodi, a CAS freshman, said she never perceived marijuana as harmful and does not understand the legal and social hype over marijuana use.

“It [marijuana] seems to have the same kind of effect that alcohol would, so I don’t understand why would it be illegal,” Parodi said. “But I think that people shouldn’t need something to give them a high on life, they should find other ways. You can get high off of exercising, so why not do that and be healthy instead of taking drugs?”