A recent study suggests a connection between marijuana usage and an elevated risk of heart attack and stroke, with daily users facing even starker odds.

On Wednesday, February 28, findings were shared indicating that both occasional and regular cannabis users bear a heightened risk of cardiovascular incidents, a risk that escalates with more frequent consumption.

The results of the study show that daily marijuana consumers had 25% higher odds of suffering a heart attack and 42% higher odds of suffering a stroke when compared to non-users. According to researchers, smoking cannabis—instead of vaping or eating the substance—could pose harmful health effects.

Lead researcher and data analyst at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Abra Jeffers said, “Smoking cannabis—the predominant method of use—may pose additional risks because particulate matter is inhaled.”


To conduct a wide study, researchers studied federal survey data collected on over 430,000 adults between the years 2016 and 2020. This data showed that almost 90% of adults did not use cannabis at all, while 7% reported being non-daily users and 4% daily users. Approximately 74% of those who reported using cannabis claimed smoking marijuana as the most common form of consumption.

For the study, researchers looked at potential associations between marijuana use and heart attack, stroke, and heart disease among the general adult population. The study included those who do and do not smoke tobacco.

Jeffers stated in a journal news release, “Our sample was large enough that we could investigate the association of cannabis use with cardiovascular outcomes among adults who had never used tobacco cigarettes or e-cigarettes.”

Researchers found that around 29% of daily marijuana users and 45% of non-daily users had never smoked tobacco. Jeffers said, “Cannabis smoke is not all that different from tobacco smoke, except for the psychoactive drug: THC vs. nicotine.” The statement continued, “Our study shows that smoking cannabis has significant cardiovascular risks, just like smoking tobacco. This is particularly important because cannabis use is increasing, and conventional tobacco use is decreasing.”

The study also provided expanded data to show that among younger adults who are at risk for premature heart disease—women younger than 65 and men younger than 55—marijuana use was correlated with 36% higher combined odds of heart attack, stroke, and heart disease. These findings held despite whether the participants also smoked tobacco.

A separate analysis was conducted regarding marijuana users who had never smoked or vaped. Here, the data found a substantial increase in their combined odds of heart attack, stroke, and heart disease.

Today, there are a total of 24 states that have opted to legalize the use of recreational marijuana. Professor with the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Robert Page, was not directly involved in the study but stated, “As cannabis use continues to grow in legality and access across U.S., practitioners and clinicians need to remember to assess cannabis use at each patient encounter in order to have a non-judgmental, shared decision conversation about potential cardiovascular risks and ways to reduce those risks.”