This just in: A University of Pittsburgh study reveals that smoking marijuana has little or no adverse health effects.

The study, in collaboration with Rutgers University, followed 408 marijuana-using black and white males from ages 14 to 36 in Pittsburgh for 22 years. 

“What we found was a little surprising,’” says UPMC lead researcher Jordan Bechtold, Ph.D., in a statement from the American Physicological Association. Over the 22 years of the study, the researchers found no link between marijuana usage and health problems.

“Overall, data from this sample provide little to no evidence to suggest that patterns of marijuana use from adolescence to young adulthood […] were negatively related to the indicators of physical or mental health studied here,” concludes the study.

The research, titled “Chronic Adolescent Marijuana Use as a Risk Factor for Physical and Mental Health Problems in Young Adult Men,” focused on studying the group for health problems related to respiratory issues and mental health. Researchers surveyed the participants for information using annual and bi-annual assessments.  

The study took into account the frequency of use for each participant but found no substantial difference in the health issues tested between “chronic users” and nonusers/low marijuana users. Chronic users typically used marijuana once a week as adolescents, and between three and fours times a week as adults.

The paper also addresses the limited scope of previous studies. “None of these studies (to our knowledge) investigated whether the developmental course of marijuana use between adolescence and young adulthood is related to psychotic outcomes in adulthood. […] This is a fundamentally different analysis than what has been researched in prior work.”

The research also acknowledges the pertinence of the study. “Given this shift in the political climate and the potential increase in marijuana use among youth, it is critical to empirically evaluate the long-term physical and mental health consequences of marijuana use.”

With marijuana deregulated and available for recreational use in four states, this study could significantly contribute to the national legalization discussion.

While the study is encouraging for the most widely used illicit drug in the United States, Bechtold urges readers to widen their frame of reference.

“Just like any scientific study, our study has limitations. Our results need to be considered in the context of the larger body of work on the potential adverse consequences of chronic marijuana use.”

Read the complete study here.

Emma Diehl

Emma Diehl is a writer, blogger, and social media marketer working in tech and startups in Pittsburgh. She loves local craft beer and a well-crafted pun.