Smoking Pot Might Be Bad for Your Gums— But That's About It
New research finds only one physical health risk of long-term marijuana use
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2016 2:43 PM CDT
Updated Jun 5, 2016 9:41 AM CDT
A woman in Rio de Janeiro smokes a marijuana joint earlier this month.   (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

(Newser) – A new study finds you can toke for up to 20 years without suffering any worse physical health effects than a couple of loose or lost teeth, Live Science reports. That's right: According to researchers studying long-term marijuana use, the only drawback, as far as physical health is concerned, is gum disease. Their findings were published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry. Researchers tested the periodontal health, systemic inflammation, metabolic health, and lung function of 1,037 New Zealanders—675 of whom reported smoking pot, according to a press release—through the age of 38. The Guardian reports they found 55.6% of people who had used marijuana for more than 15 years had periodontal disease. Only 13.5% of people who'd never used marijuana did.

Researchers were unsure what was causing the poor gum health—the less-frequent brushing and flossing of marijuana-users wouldn't be enough—and believe it's possible cannabis itself is bad for gums. Researchers were surprised to find periodontal disease—and not the poor lung function associated with smoking cigarettes—was the only negative physical health effect of long-term pot use. But that doesn't mean you can cheef with impunity. “Our results should be interpreted in the context of prior research showing that cannabis use is associated with accidents and injuries, bronchitis, acute cardiovascular events, and, possibly, infectious diseases and cancer," the press release quotes the study as saying. (Being tired may make you snack like a pot-smoker.)