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Performance and Health-Related Characteristics of Physically Active Males Using Marijuana

Lisano, Jonathon K.1; Smith, Jeremy D.1; Mathias, Alissa B.1; Christensen, Matthew1; Smoak, Peter1; Phillips, Kristina T.2; Quinn, Colin J.1; Stewart, Laura K.1

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: June 2019 - Volume 33 - Issue 6 - p 1658–1668
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002238
Original Research

Lisano, JK, Smith, JD, Mathias, AB, Christensen, M, Smoak, P, Phillips, KT, Quinn, CJ, and Stewart, LK. Performance and health-related characteristics of physically active men using marijuana. J Strength Cond Res 33(6): 1659–1669, 2019—The influence of chronic marijuana use on the performance and health of physically active individuals has yet to be fully elucidated. The purpose of this study was to explore pulmonary function, aerobic and anaerobic fitness, strength, serum testosterone, cortisol, C-reactive protein (CRP), Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), 11-nor-9-carboxy-Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC-COOH), and 11-hydroxy-Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC-OH) concentrations in a physically active population either using or not using marijuana. Healthy, physically active males (N = 24) were compared based on their marijuana-use status: marijuana users (MU; n = 12) and nonusers (NU; n = 12). Statistical analysis (p = 0.05) revealed no difference between groups for age, body mass, body mass index, body fat, forced expiratory volume in 1 second percentage, 2max">VO2max, anaerobic power output, strength measures, testosterone, or cortisol concentrations. Although not statistically significant, MU showed a trend to fatigue to a greater percentage of absolute power output than NU from the beginning to the end of the Wingate Anaerobic Power Assessment (p = 0.08, effect size = 0.75). C-reactive protein in MU (1.76 ± 2.81 mg·L−1) and NU (0.86 ± 1.49 mg·L−1) was not significantly different (p = 0.60) but placed MU at moderate risk and NU at low risk for cardiovascular disease. Anaerobic fatigue was the only performance variable to show a trend for difference between groups. These results suggest that marijuana use in physically active males may not have significant effects on performance; however, it may be linked to elevated concentrations of CRP which place users at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease.

1School of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Colorado; and

2School of Psychological Sciences, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Colorado

Address correspondence to Laura K. Stewart,

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Copyright © 2019 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.