Performance and Health Related Characteristics of Male Athletes Using Marijuana

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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-tetrahydrocannibinol (THC), 11-nor-9-carboxy-Δ-9-tetrahydrocannibinol (THC-COOH), and 11-hydroxy-Δ-9-tetrahydrocannibinol (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 non-users (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, VO2 max, 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 end of the Wingate Anaerobic Power Assessment (p=0.08, ES=0.75). CRP in MU (1.76 ± 2.81 mg/L) and NU (0.86 ± 1.49 mg/L) 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.

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