Marijuana Use has Been Tied to Incidences of Strokes in Young People

Young man with chest pain

We’ve heard a lot of crazy-sounding things in the news lately, but a recently resurfaced research report that discusses how marijuana use might actually increase one’s odds of having a stroke is a new one. Since one of the side effects of marijuana use is a narrowing of the arteries in the skull, marijuana users are more predisposed to sustaining a stroke than individuals who do not partake in marijuana. This is especially prevalent in young people who smoke marijuana frequently.

The study project started in 2015 at the University Hospital of Strasbourg in France, before American researchers took up a similar project. The research project examined three-hundred and thirty-four patients younger than forty-five who suffered an ischemic stroke. An ischemic stroke is a stroke caused by blocked blood flow to the brain. Of the three-hundred and thirty-four patients examined, fifty-eight of them were regular marijuana users.

No study has yet been able to prove that marijuana use causes strokes, but this study did cast a very concerning and very relevant connection between marijuana use and ischemic stroke. For example, the study was able to prove that the cause of such a stroke was more likely to be a narrowing of arteries in the brain when it occurred in marijuana users. For non-marijuana users, the cause of stoke could not be so well narrowed down. Strokes can be caused by many different things in people who do not smoke marijuana. However, there does seem to be a strong connection between the narrowing of brain arteries, stroke, and consistent marijuana use.

Young guy with joint

Marijuana users who experience stroke tend to be young people, they tend to be male, and they tend to do other things like smoke cigarettes, eat poorly, and have bad habits in general. While it is scientifically very difficult to prove that marijuana use causes stroke in such individuals, the prevalence of marijuana use in stroke victims is very concerning. Probably the most noteworthy factor here is that whenever a young person suffers a stroke (strokes in young people are historically very uncommon) marijuana use is very likely to be present in that person’s life.

Experts Agree that the Signs are There

The full study results can be found in the November 2015 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The editor-in-chief of that journal said that:

Another expert, Dr. Richard Libman, a respected doctor of neurology at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y. commented on the study:

This is an important study because it helps to change the public mindset about marijuana. Over the last few years, there have been numerous publications showing groups of young people, often teenagers, having strokes while smoking large quantities of marijuana. Almost definitely, marijuana is not as safe as many would like to think it is, including from a stroke standpoint.”

We have a real issue on our hands here. The potential health benefits and risks of cannabis are constantly argued back and forth across all fifty states. Twenty-nine states have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, but when studies like the above get published we wonder if we are going down the right path with marijuana legalization.

It is likely that a safer route would be to study and research to fully understand all of the potential risks and benefits of cannabis before further legalization is brought underway. We need to know more about it before we make any major decisions regarding it. There are risks. We know this for a fact.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.