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Smoking Marijuana Can Affect The Way You Walk

But you probably wouldn't be able to spot the subtle signs.

08/29/2017 10:37 EDT | Updated 08/29/2017 10:38 EDT
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There have been many studies conducted on the effects of smoking marijuana. From impaired judgment, memory problems, and red eyes to the munchies and pain relief, it's clear that there can be many physical and psychological effects when the drug enters your body.

And according to new research, smoking weed can actually affect the way you walk.

A study conducted at the University of South Australia and published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that there were subtle differences between the way a pot smoker and a non-pot smoker walks.

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Researchers discovered that marijuana smokers were more likely to swing their knees quicker and at greater velocity than non-drug users, reports Indy100. And although they didn't find a difference in the drug users' speed or balance, they found that people who smoke weed moved their shoulders less compared to people who don't smoke the drug.

"Most of the research on illicit drug use focuses on long-term changes in cognition and psychological well-being," study author Verity Pearson-Dennett told PsyPost. "Illicit drugs exert their effects by changing the levels of neurotransmitters in the 'pleasure centres' of the brain, but these neurotransmitters are also very important in movement."

Illicit drugs exert their effects by changing the levels of neurotransmitters in the 'pleasure centres' of the brain, but these neurotransmitters are also very important in movement.

"It is therefore possible that these drugs may impact the way we move. It is important to fully understand the long-term effects of cannabis use, particularly given the move to decriminalize use in many countries and the growing tolerance to use of cannabis."

But if you watched someone who smoked weed walk next to someone who didn't, you probably wouldn't notice any difference at all, as the researchers note that the changes in walking patterns are so small an expert wouldn't be able to tell.

"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 explained.

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For the small pilot study, researchers studied 44 people aged 18 to 49 — 22 cannabis users, and 22 non-cannabis users.

The two groups underwent gait and balance tests, which were analyzed through a motion capture system.

"The main take away message is that use of cannabis can result in subtle changes in the way that you move," Pearson-Dennett told PsyPost. "However, many of the participants in the cannabis group were moderate-to-light cannabis users, therefore heavier cannabis users may have greater impairments."

The main take away message is that use of cannabis can result in subtle changes in the way that you move.

As Healthline notes, "The effects of marijuana on the body are often immediate. Longer-term effects may depend on how you take it, how much you use, and how often you use it."

In Canada, processing and selling cannabis for non-medical purposes is still illegal but it's expected that marijuana will become legal in the country next year.

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