According to a new study that was published in the Journal of Voice, some preliminary evidence shows that smoking cannabis can negatively impact a person’s voice.
The study, “The Effect of Marijuana on the Voice: A Pilot Study“, was authored by Bailey Balouch, Ghiath Alnouri, William Valentino, and Robert T. Sataloff.
“Marijuana use has been common among rock and popular singers for decades, but it also occurs among other professional voice users including classical singers, teachers, politicians, clergy and many others,” remarked study author Sataloff.
Sataloff is a professor and chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Drexel University. He is also a professional singer and conductor of the Thomas Jefferson University Choir.
“Until very recently, it was not possible to study the effects of marijuana on voice prospectively because the substance was illegal. It still is in many states. Nevertheless, anecdotally laryngologists have seen adverse effects from marijuana,” Sataloff explained.
“I have written about the voice problems it can cause since 1981. With legalization, its use is likely to become more common,” he added.
Researchers surveyed 42 adult patients from Sataloff’s clinical voice center as part of the study. According to the findings, 77% of the participants reported having tried some form of cannabis during their lifetime.
These patients were asked to report if they believed they had experienced any changes to their voice as a result of using marijuana.
The data found that 42% of cannabis users believed that smoking the substance produced immediate changes to the voice, while approximately 29% reported that they believed it had long-term effects, including hoarseness and vocal weakness.
Those who believed that cannabis had resulted in long-term hoarseness were additionally more likely to report using cannabis monthly vs annually.
Only one cannabis user believed that using edibles, rather than smoking, had impacted their voice.
“Smoking marijuana can cause voice dysfunction. For high-level voice users such as opera singers, intoxication or alteration in cognitive function from any cause can alter fine motor control and result in voice injury. This is true of marijuana, as it is of alcohol,” Sataloff told PsyPost.
“Physicians need to learn the facts and to ask about marijuana use in appropriate circumstances. In addition, because the substance is not quality-controlled in states in which it has not been legalized, it contains contaminants and harsh byproducts in some preparations; and these can cause substantial laryngeal inflammation,” he further stated.
“People concerned about their voices should be wary especially of smoking marijuana directly because of its heat, unfiltered impurities and other factors, Sataloff said. “Smoking through a water pipe is somewhat better, but still not good for the voice. Incidentally, neither is smoking tobacco!”
“As the product becomes more readily available and legal, prospective studies may be possible; but they will be challenging to get approved by institutional review boards. Smoked marijuana has the highest likelihood of damaging the voice,” Sataloff concluded.