Study Links Long-Term Weed Use to Gross Gums—But Not Much Else

According to the experts, even your lungs don't get a raw deal.
June 2, 2016, 4:00pm

Photo by Miranda Nelson via Flickr

As long as you don't mind being middle-aged with shit teeth and bloody gums, psychology experts say you're pretty much fine to continue down that path of smoking yourself into oblivion. Sort of.

According to a new study, long-term cannabis use is associated with few physical health problems by the time you're in early middle-age. After comparing the health of more than 1,000 weed users to that of regular tobacco smokers in New Zealand, from the age of 18 to 38, researchers found that tobacco use was associated with more health problems than cannabis, including worse lung function and metabolic health.

However, the JAMA Psychiatry study did find that 55.6 percent of participants who smoked weed regularly for 15 to 20 years wound up with periodontal disease by age 38. This includes the loss of gum support around the tooth, and in some cases, tooth loss.

"One thing that surprised me is that we didn't see associations between cannabis use and poorer lung function," said Madeline Meier, a professor of psychology at Arizona State University and one of the paper's authors. However, she did note that previous research on the same sample of New Zealanders has shown that heavy weed smoking is associated with increased risk of psychotic illness, IQ decline, and downward socioeconomic mobility. Not so positive.

Meier said that more research is needed to discover how long-term cannabis use can affect older people—studies that don't currently exist. Until then, you've got this fun ultimatum to brew over.

Read: Smoking Weed Makes You a Loser, Says Study