By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

According to new research, long-term marijuana use may not be so bad for your health after all. A recent long-term study of nearly 1,000 New Zealanders from birth to age 38 has found that people who smoked marijuana for up to 20 years have more gum disease, but otherwise do not show worse physical health than non-smokers.

The researchers’ findings, published in the June issue of The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) Psychiatry, found that among the 38-year-olds surveyed, 55.6% of people who had smoked marijuana regularly for 15 or 20 years had gum disease, while only 13.5% of the 38-year-olds who had never used marijuana and don’t smoke cigarettes had the same disease.

To draw their comparisons among the participants, researchers assessed physical health issues like lung function, systemic inflammation, and metabolic syndrome. They also study-controlled for factors like socioeconomic status as well as self-reported brushing and flossing habits, according to Live Science. Click here to read the article in full.

The Findings.

In general, the findings showed that cannabis use over 20 years was unrelated to health problems in early midlife. Across the several domains of health factored in, clear evidence of an adverse association with cannabis use was apparent for only one domain, namely, periodontal health. While cannabis users had poor periodontal health, in some cases they actually showed better health outcomes than non-smokers such as lower body mass indexes, smaller waists and better high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, the good cholesterol. These results have led researchers to think that cannabis may have an impact on metabolism. Tobacco users in the study, were found to have gum disease as well as reduced lung function, systemic inflammation and indicators of poorer metabolic health.

“We can see the physical health effects of tobacco smoking in this study, but we don’t see similar effects for cannabis smoking,” Madeline Meier, an assistant professor of psychology at Arizona State University and the lead author on the study, told Duke Today.

Study’s Authors Warn: These Results Don’t Give a Green Light to Smoke As Much As You Want.

While this study revealed that tobacco smokers may be worse off tobacco, it doesn’t mean you should necessarily smoke marijuana as much as you want. “We need to recognize that heavy recreational cannabis use does have some adverse consequences, but overall damage to physical health is not apparent in this study,” Avshalom Caspi, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University and a coauthor on the study, said in a statement, according to Live Science.

To learn more about the effects and potential benefits of marijuana, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

More Medical Research Showing the Lack of Harm of Marijuana Use is Needed.

What this study shows is something that most of us who actually lived through the hippy movement of the Sixties already knew. Smoking marijuana is not harmful to you. Despite what marijuana opponents would like to be true, the evidence just does not support the harmfulness of marijuana. The problem is that with the lack of research studies because of federal restrictions, there is little published legitimate clinical research to actually prove the harmlessness of marijuana. This study goes far to show that fact. I would strongly encourage academic institutions to support such research and the federal government to stop its persecution of marijuana legalization and to support such research.

By comparison, those vices which are legal (alcohol and smoking be the two major ones), cause thousands of deaths each year and billions of dollars of loss to our economy, directly attributable to their use. Not so for marijuana! If we could take fifty percent of the alcohol abusers and convert them to using marijuana, instead, think of the savings on alcohol-related diseases, loss of income, domestic strife, the requirement for rehabilitation and treatment, and other such consequences. There are no known or reported cases of someone dying from a marijuana overdose. By comparison, how many thousands of U.S. citizens have died of alcohol overdoses?

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact the Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at


Berke, Jeremy. “A new study might have found one of the only long-term physical health risks linked to smoking marijuana.” Business Insider. (June 3, 2016). Web.

“Pot-Smokers Harm Gums; Other Physical Effects Slight.” Duke Today. (May 31, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Long-term effects of marijuana use, the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), recreational marijuana use, legal counsel for medical marijuana, marijuana defense attorney, associations between cannabis use and physical health problems, cannabis versus tobacco users, health lawyer, The Health Law Firm

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