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Marijuana and Its Effects on Athletic Performance: A Systematic Review

Trinh, Kien V., MD, PhD; Diep, Dion, BHSc; Robson, Hannah, BHKin

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: July 2018 - Volume 28 - Issue 4 - p 350–357
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000471
Original Research

Objective: To determine the effects of marijuana on athletic performance.

Design: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, AMED, and SPORTDiscus from their beginning to September 2016. Study quality was assessed using the Cochrane collaboration tool for assessing risk of bias and the Cochrane GRADE scale. No meta-analyses were performed for this review.

Setting: Subjects in a track, gym, or recreational ward.

Participants: Any primary study which included male and female adults of any athletic background between ages 18 and 65, with no other comorbid conditions.

Interventions: Any primary study which used marijuana cigarettes and included a control group.

Main Outcome Measures: Vital signs, pulmonary measures, physical work capacity, grip strength, and exercise duration were determined to be relevant outcomes.

Results: Three trials examined marijuana and its effects on athletic performance. Two trials had a high risk of bias and 1 trial had an unclear risk of bias. The effect of marijuana on outcomes including heart rate, blood pressure, and exercise duration remains unclear. Low quality evidence suggests that treatment, sham, and inactive control groups do not have a significant difference for grip strength. Low quality evidence suggests that there is an ergogenic effect of treatment demonstrated by increased bronchodilation and FEV1 compared with inactive control and that there is an ergolytic effect of treatment demonstrated by decreased physical work capacity compared with sham and inactive control groups.

Conclusion: Because the number and quality of studies was low, the effects of marijuana on athletic performance remain unclear.

Faculty of Health Sciences, Michael G. Degroote School of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.

Corresponding Author: Dion Diep, BHSc, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, L8S 4L8 Canada (diepd2@mcmaster.ca).

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (www.cjsportmed.com).

D. Diep and H. Robson ran the literature search, analyzed and chose the relevant studies, critiqued their methodology and quality of evidence, and formed relevant conclusions. K. V. Trinh analyzed and chose the relevant studies, critiqued their methodology and quality of evidence, and formed relevant conclusions. All authors proofread the manuscript.

Received October 12, 2016

Accepted March 16, 2017

Copyright © 2018 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.