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Marijuana users walk differently than non-users

Smoking pot can affect the way your knees, elbows and shoulders move when you are walking, a new study has found.

The study, from the University of South Australia, found that there are differences between the way marijuana users and non-users walk.

Specifically, marijuana users have stiffer shoulders, more flexible elbows and quicker knees, which move faster than those of non-users, while walking.

While differences in their movements were detected, there were no significant differences between the balancing abilities and neurological functions of users and non-users.

The study’s authors are calling for more research that can determine exactly how marijuana affects people’s movements, as the drug continues to be legalized in the US.

A new study has found that marijuana affects the way a person walks (file photo)


Medical marijuana is legal in 30 US states and Washington, DC.

Research has proven that it can help ease the side effects of intense medical treatments.

In some states, people with the following conditions may be eligible to use medical marijuana:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Glaucoma
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Anorexia

The marijuana users and non-users that the researchers studied were mostly in their twenties. The 44 participants – 22 from each camp – completed screening tests, gait and balance tests and clinical neurological examinations of movement.

Their gait and balance tests involved motion capture systems.

A marijuana user’s knee reaches a greater speed when they walk than a non-user’s knee does while walking.

Their elbows were also more flexible when they walked and their shoulders were less flexible.

The study suggests that cannabis use is linked to changes in a person’s gait but it said that the changes are not clinically detectable. It also called for more research on the topic.

‘Further research is required to investigate if the subtle gait changes observed in this population become more apparent with aging and increased cannabis use,’ the study said.

Study author Verity Pearson-Dennett told PsyPost: ‘The changes in walking were small enough that a neurologist specializing in movement disorders was not able to detect changes in all of the cannabis users.’ 

Pearson-Dennett added: ‘The main takeaway message is that use of cannabis can result in subtle changes in the way you move.’

Previous research has proven that marijuana has an effect on a person’s brain, heart and lungs.

The CDC has warned that the drug impacts a person’s metal faculties by affecting their reaction time, their ability to focus, their decision making abilities and their emotions.

And since it affects a person’s circulatory system, marijuana may increase a person’s chances of having a heart attack or stroke.

It can also increase one’s heart rate or blood pressure and exacerbate chest pains that some people experience while exercising.

However, marijuana has also been proven to ease pain and nausea that are caused by some medial treatments.

The study’s results come at a time when Americans are paying close attention to the effects of marijuana given its legalization in 30 states and Washington, DC.