By Associated Press
(AP) — A new scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) suggests the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) remove cannabis from the Schedule I category so it can be widely studied by scientists.
Marijuana use has risen over the past decade, especially among people 18-25. In all, 47 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and 4 of 5 U.S. territories allow some form of cannabis use. Although many states have legalized medical and/or recreational use, cannabis growing, sales and use are illegal at the federal level, further complicating scientific research.
“We urgently need carefully designed, prospective short- and long-term studies regarding cannabis use and cardiovascular safety as it becomes increasingly available and more widely used,” Robert L. Page II, chair of the writing group for the statement said. “The public needs fact-based, valid scientific information about cannabis’s effect on the heart and blood vessels. Research funding at federal and state levels must be increased to match the expansion of cannabis use – to clarify the potential therapeutic properties and to help us better understand the cardiovascular and public health implications of frequent cannabis use.”
Although cannabis may be helpful for conditions such as muscle stiffness associated with multiple sclerosis, the AHA claims cannabis does not appear to have any well-documented benefits for the prevention or treatment of cardiovascular diseases.
Studies on CBD, which does not produce intoxication, have found associations with reduced heart rate, lower blood pressure, increased ability of the arteries to open and potentially reduced inflammation. Inflammation is linked to atherosclerosis, the slow narrowing of the arteries.
The way cannabis is consumed may influence how it affects the heart and blood vessels.
Cannabis that is legal for medical purposes should align with patient safety and efficacy, according to the AHA, which calls on the federal government to create and require standardized labeling about THC and CBD amounts on all legalized products.
Arizona’s list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana currently does not include cardiovascular health issues.