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Mar-14-2010 20:57printcomments

Hypertension: Cannabis / Marijuana Works!

Cardiac research through the side door.


(MOLALLA, Ore.) - Almost everybody who uses cannabis/marijuana (C/MJ) knows that it causes blood vessel dilation (for example: bloodshot eyes). The vasodilation is generalized and systemic; blood pressure goes down, followed by reflex tachycardia.

An Internet search of the subject Cannabis Hypertension Research provided a gold mine of articles dating back to Dr. Mechoulam's discovery of the structure of THC in 1970.

The earliest (that I could find) article on vasodilation was by Williams, et al in 1975. This was reported by Husain and Kahn in 1985. Their work is by far the best historic article on the subject. Few people seem to have found these older articles.

The physiological/pharmacological mechanisms seem to've been first published by Grotenhernmen in Russo's book, The Handbook of Cannabis Therapeutics in 2006. This was reported by Paul Armentano in NORML's Web page ( entitled Hypertension, in 2010. The article was based upon reports by Batkal in 2004, Pacher in 2005 and Hilliard in 2000. (There are probably others; I will be reminded! -- but I couldn't find them.) There was a recent article by Gorelick in American Heart Journal in which Rimonabant, a CB-1 blocker was used, and it blocked the hypotensive (blood pressure lowering) effect of smoked C/MJ.

I read a recent clinical report about C/MJ for hypertension/high blood pressure but I have been unable to locate it again (Any help locating that is appreciated). When I returned to my computer to look up this subject, I was amazed to see what popped up and light bulbs went off over my head.

Dr. David Kendall at Queens' Medical Center in London first reported this vasodilating effect of Anandamide, the body's natural cannabinoid in 1998?!?

It seems that a young pharmacology PhD candidate, Yehoshua Moar, in Dr. Mechoulam's laboratory in Israel synthesized a C/MJ-like chemical which produces vasodilation and lowered blood pressure without the typical, sometimes unwanted euphoria.

This really caused several light bulbs to go off... I had assumed that the vasodilation and blood pressure drop was a short-term effect. My experience with about 5,000 medical marijuana patients was brought to the forefront. Neither I, myself nor my nurses and physician's assistants ever found a dangerously high blood pressure in any of the 5,000 patients. The pharmacological explanations seem clear to me. About 95% of my patients were long-time users and most smoked frequently. The average age was about 48 years, and the oldest was 90. This means that half of the patients were over 48 and certainly if they were NOT using C/MJ there would be many in the clinical hypertensive group.

The medical marijuana doctors group which I led now has more than 100,000 patients and none or few of them have reported dangerous clinical hypertension.

The California marijuana doctors have at least 300,000 total patients. I will be very interested to know if their experience with cannabis and hypertension is similar to my own.


Dr. Phillip Leveque has degrees in chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacology, toxicology and minors in physiology and biochemistry. He was a Professor of Pharmacology, employed by the University of London for 2 years, during which time he trained the first doctors in Tanzania. After training doctors, he became an Osteopathic Physician, as well as a Forensic Toxicologist.

Before any of that, Phil Leveque was a Combat Infantryman in the U.S. Army in WWII. He suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder more than 60 years after the war, and specialized in treating Veterans with PTSD during his years as a doctor in Molalla, Oregon. Do you have a question, comment or story to share with Dr. Leveque?
Email him:
More information on the history of Dr. Leveque can be found in his book, General Patton's Dogface Soldier of WWII about his own experiences "from a foxhole". Order the book by mail by following this link: DOGFACE SOLDIER OF WWII If you are a World War II history buff, you don't want to miss it.

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Anonymous February 26, 2015 5:15 pm (Pacific time)

Ive been hearing about cannabis and RCVS stroke, but its seems that people have cannabinoid deficiency since many have underlying psychiatric problems, depression alone has double your chances or cardia problems, a large ischemic stroke study showed no association and an actual decrease. Thc cause relaxation in pre constricted cerebral arteries which is different the when the not pre constricted. If thc killed people then DABS should be Killing people daily. A guy in colorado did a 13 gram dab, google it ha. Evidence that cannabis won't kill

Mixk February 21, 2015 5:45 pm (Pacific time)

I know this is waaaay after the fact but, I sometimes get circulation problems that make my hands get cold and numb. Smoking pot makes it go away.

Mark March 18, 2012 11:39 pm (Pacific time)

What have I been saying? I must have been in a dream world. The death rate in fatal accidents with THC in the victim's systems are all made up, Smoke on! The effects of 400 toxic cannabinoids is hogwash. If it's good enough for a 5 year old, who am I to question. I think teachers would be more perceptive if they were allowed to smoke while teaching even. How could I be so dumb. AND! It makes real strong rope too. A bonus that can't be over looked.

Mark March 17, 2012 10:21 am (Pacific time)

First off, to medically know what the prisoner was on, the staff did urinalysis to confirm what drug(s) they were on. As you know, people in the drug culture aren't always truthful, as I'm sure you're aware. I also follow people but know when to part company. I watched Dan Marino play pretty good football. When he started telling people to borrow 125% on their homes, I could see he sold his soul for more money, ruining people's financial lives. We have doctors in Michigan prescribing "medical" marijuana as well. The youngest patient is 5 yrs old. I do not have a count on how many are 12 and under. Back to urinalysis. The people strictly on THC, all had elevated blood pressures over the normal range of 120-140 over 70-90. Unless you consider 168/108 low, then apparently this marijuana worked in reverse according to your theory. You keep spouting about natural, and plant. Cocaine comes from the cocoa plant. Heroin comes from the poppy plant. You can get LSD from a mold. These are recommended substances as well then?

Editor: You really aren't worried about logic are you?  Yes it is a natural plant, not in quote marks, not 'almost' or 'sort of' but period.  Cocaine is a processed drug, you have no business saying a word about this subject, get a life and figure it out.  Nobody cares that you are a drug recognition expert, I'm an idiot recognition expert and the meters are pegged pal.  I love how all or nearly all people in your shoes think you can throw yourself around with authority.  You obviously must be TERRIBLE for the poor inmates to have to deal with, I'm sure they roll their eyes every time you walk in the room.  Now, I see that you are sending a bunch of other comments telling me how we should operate and questioning the character of our staff, forget it, good bye.

Mark March 16, 2012 1:12 pm (Pacific time)

Editor, if you will not allow my subsequent comments through censorship, then delete my original post. By not allowing my additional comments you have taken them out of context and in error. By not understanding them, and not allowing followup, is not fair discussion. Please remove my other comments, and smoke on! (That's your choice, but more sense of humor in case that causes more confusion)

Editor: Like you decide what I publish and don't publish, please.  Your comments were left intact and responded to, you are ana amazing individual to think you can call for what we do or do not carry.  This isn't about humor, it is about human health and archaic laws and people wrapped around a philosophy that is rooted in rotten business deals that led to the industry making cannabis illegal.  They had to, it is one of the strongest natural fibers known to man.  'Synthetic' rope replaced hemp rope, that is why it became illegal in the first place.

Mark March 16, 2012 12:25 pm (Pacific time)

Also, perhaps you didn't concentrate on my first comment as much as you should have. I was being facetious when I said if you intend to decrease blood pressure by smoking marijuana, which causes an elevated pulse and blood pressure, then you might as well use cocaine for the something. Because cocaine also causes high blood pressure and pulse as well. But you did not catch my intended humor. I realize I am on a pro weed cite now, and that's why my second comments have been censored. Another light hearted comment. You can also find that cocaine is pretty much natural, and so is LSD. Got get some.

Editor: We don't have time for this nonsense, try FOX News next time.

mark March 16, 2012 11:59 am (Pacific time)

I can't win a drug war with an addict, but I'll try.

 Editor: Well, you are offensive and accusatory, also parading against a natural herb, don't make assumptions about people.  Dr. Leveque has signed many permits but he doesn't use marijuana personally.  

Cannabis increases blood pressure. On the downside of the drug, one might experience a decreased blood pressure, but not while you are under the influence of it.

 Editor: Marijuana use dilates blood vessels.  When this happens, a person's heart rate accelerates, this is not high blood pressure.  With the vessels dilated, the heart has a relief of pressure and speeds up because the blood flows more easily.  

As far as current research, I just left the Maricopa county jail for DRE, drug recognition expert, certification. Volunteer prisoners, took urinalysis tests, and the results were only known to the instructors. The DRE then examines the subject using a 12 step process including body temperature, pulse rates (taken 3 times during the 30-40 min eval) blood pressure, muscle tone checks, etc.

 Editor: So you spend your time evaluating the urine of jail inmates?  Geez, you drug war guys really have to stretch these days.  If marijuana was bad for people, it would have killed somebody by now don't you think?  Since it has not and since so many combat veterans from the last several wars are suffering PTSD and using it successfully and actually enjoying their lives and staying off hard drugs, it makes weak arguments like this all the more ridiculous. 

The key signs for ingestion of marijuana to be psychoactive on the blood with delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol are reddened conjunctiva, increased pulse, increased blood pressure, and a lack of convergence in the eyes. Now I realize this will be dismissed by you, to support your own opinion, which probably rests mainly on the justified use of this drug, but the fact remains,a person who has recently used marijuana will have an increased blood pressure.

Editor: We have been making one point about this plant for a long time.  Our mentor is Dr. Phil Leveque.  Long before he became one of Oregon's top medical marijuana proponents, he was a US soldier fighting the Nazi's, then he became a Professor of Pharmacology and a Forensic Toxicologist.  He trained the first doctors in Uganda and Tanzania.  I follow his lead and your points have not made any difference to the conversation.  Stop demonizing plants and people.  

Mark March 16, 2012 11:28 am (Pacific time)

Marijuana, while under the influence, cause high blood pressure, and an increase in pulse rate. As far as curing ailments, the national glaucoma groups, and cancer society do not endorse marijuana use. They state too many side effects, for the minor if any benefit. Not me, the associations say that. As far as relieving hypertension? Marijuana? Then I guess you could do so with any stimulant that increases blood pressure and pulse as well. Like cocaine, methamphetamine, etc. But that would be pure folly.

EDITOR: Mark, please do some current research. Cannabis REDUCES blood pressure. Yes, some people experience an increase in heart rate, much like walking up some stairs, but no one has ever experienced a life threatening situation due to that side effect. You must realize that until the Federal Gov't allows groups to discuss the viability of cannabis as a healing agent, they will not do so. There is a very good chance that if they cross that line, they will lose their federal funding. So your "endorsement" idea is not a reasonable expectation, for now. Not to worry though, facts speak for themselves and this useless prohibition of cannabis will be a thing of the past eventually. In the meantime, you'll do yourself a service if  you do not put marijuana in the same category as cocaine etc. Credibility counts, and that type of comment just proves how little you understand. Folly, indeed.


Joe March 16, 2010 1:53 am (Pacific time)

I was taking an MAOI (Nardil) for Genralized Anxiety Disorder while I was a regular marijuana user (which I failed to mention to my pharmacologist), and before I understood the connection, I fainted on several occasions just after I smoked. The anti-depressant had already lowered my resting blood pressure (common side-effect), and the cannabis would literally knock me out if I wasn't paying attention to the warning signs.

Jeff Kaye~ March 15, 2010 12:43 pm (Pacific time)

I think that in the final analysis, it is going to be difficult to find an ailment that CAN NOT be helped, eased, ameliorated, alleviated, cured, or in some way made more bearable by this amazing plant and its multitude of cannabinoids which (coincidentally?) match receptors in our brains and nervous (endocannabinoid) systems. Much research is needed -- Come on President Obama, RESCHEDULE already!

Vee March 15, 2010 5:37 am (Pacific time)

...but I WANT the euphoria too! :)

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