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Some of my friends like to smoke (using both traditional methods and vaporizers that produce no "smoke") or eat edibles before rides, they say it makes it more enjoyable. I always wonder if it affects their performance, insofar as they fatigue faster, have less endurance, make less power, etc.

They claim it doesn't. A few have said they are actually better while medicated, for various reasons, like any pain they may be having is numbed or they feel that they can just crank away forever. I'm not so sure. I usually say "well, it probably just feels that way" - I doubt there is any benefit, but I could be wrong.

Furthermore, for an experienced rider, could it be said that it is dangerous to medicate and ride?

Have there been any studies done or any empirical research that points to a decline in performance and/or increased safety risk? e.g. getting hit by a car.

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    I feel I have to mention that cannabinoids are on the WADA prohibited list. Plus, in the UK they have roadside drug tests, so you could get pulled up on it, especially if you were in some kind of traffic incident. – ilikeprogramming May 6 '16 at 13:59
  • @ilikeprogramming Good to know. This is being asked in a country where recreational cannabis is becoming legal in many states and medical is legal in even more. Not sure what the rules for roadside testing are in the States, i.e. if you can straight up refuse. A bad accident seems like the impetus for more rules around transportation and usage. – ebrohman May 6 '16 at 14:17
  • Yes I keep seeing the legalisation mentioned in the news. In England they decriminalised cannabis for a period, then because politicians they reclassified it – ilikeprogramming May 6 '16 at 15:50
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    The OP didn't ask if he/she was going to get in trouble for using cannabis or not: He/she asked what the proven performance effects are, if any. – errantlinguist May 6 '16 at 17:48
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    From my experience, thc can impair the motor system to the point of being unable to move. Your friends must be dosing lightly. – gaurwraith May 6 '16 at 23:13
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Are you asking about the immediate effects while high or long-term effects?

I can't find any unbiased, well-cited sources except for one from the British Journal of Sports Medicine which basically says that doctors should try to keep athletes from using cannabis due to its possible dangers. However, some sources (of unknown quality) claim that it may help with some sports due to e.g. its ability to help people get into a pseudo-meditative state (which assumedly helps with e.g. long-distance running). Others claim that its ability to lessen the perception of pain may be of benefit in some sports (e.g. in combat sports).

However, cannabis use has been more or less uncontroversially proven to slow down nervous-system response (c.f. "Cannabis use and cognitive dysfunction") and so it can be dangerous to use when reflexes are necessary for one's safety (i.e. such as when riding a bicycle). Moreover, smoking cannabis is still smoking --- the long-term health consequences of which are hard to overstate.

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  • Both immediate and long term would be good to know. – ebrohman May 6 '16 at 13:07
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    @ebrohman - Long term (beyond memory and cognition changes) will be similar to other types of smoking. Your lungs are self cleaning for particulate matter (via small hair called cilia) down to a certain particle size. Dust, your lungs can clean out. Smoke, less so. Over time you will slowly kill your lung capacity and functioning, which will in turn affect VO2 max and cycling performance. – Rider_X May 6 '16 at 16:07
  • @Rider_X That probably true of cannabis smoke, but many use vaporizers that produce no smoke. I wonder about that as well. – ebrohman May 6 '16 at 17:19
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    @ebrohman - vaporizers do reduce respiratory effects, but the effects are not eliminated. High exposure levels will likely still produce meaningful respiratory effects. – Rider_X May 6 '16 at 17:44
  • @ebrohman, if this answer helped you out, I'd be very appreciative of it being accepted. Thanks a lot! – errantlinguist Nov 20 '16 at 10:31

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