Source: Patients for Medicinal Cannabis
There are many reasons why marijuana is not worse
for you than smoking cigarettes. You may have heard
that “one joint is equal to ten cigarettes” but this is
exaggerated and misleading. Marijuana does contain more tar
than tobacco — but low tar cigarettes cause just as much
cancer, so what is that supposed to mean? Scientists have
shown that smoking any plant is bad for your lungs, because
it increases the number of ‘lesions’ in your small airways.
This usually does not threaten your life, but there is a
chance it will lead to infections. Marijuana users who are
worried about this can find less harmful ways of taking
marijuana like eating or vaporizing. (Be careful —
marijuana is safe to eat — but tobacco is not, you might
overdose!) Marijuana does not cause cancer the way
tobacco does, though.
Here is a list of interesting facts about marijuana smoking
and tobacco smoking:
o Marijuana smokers generally don’t chain smoke,
and so they smoke less. (Marijuana is not physically
addictive like tobacco.) The more potent marijuana
is, the less a smoker will use at a time.
o Tobacco contains nicotine, and marijuana doesn’t.
Nicotine may harden the arteries and may be
responsible for much of the heart disease caused by
tobacco. New research has found that it may also
cause a lot of the cancer in tobacco smokers and
people who live or work where tobacco is smoked.
This is because it breaks down into a cancer causing
chemical called `N Nitrosamine’ when it is burned
(and maybe even while it is inside the body as well.)
o Marijuana contains THC. THC is a bronchial dilator,
which means it works like a cough drop and opens up
your lungs, which aids clearance of smoke and dirt.
Nicotine does just the opposite; it makes your lungs
bunch up and makes it harder to cough anything up.
o There are benefits from marijuana (besides bronchial
dilation) that you don’t get from tobacco. Mainly,
marijuana makes you relax, which improves your health
and well-being. (See also the “protective effect” in video below)
o Scientists do not really know what it is that causes
malignant lung cancer in tobacco. Many think it may
be a substance known as Lead 210. Of course, there
are many other theories as to what does cause cancer,
but if this is true, it is easy to see why no case of lung
cancer resulting from marijuana use alone has
ever been documented, because tobacco contains
much more of this substance than marijuana.
o Marijuana laws make it harder to use marijuana
without damaging your body. Water-pipes are illegal
in many states. Filtered cigarettes, vaporizers, and
inhalers have to be mass produced, which is hard to
arrange `underground.’ People don’t eat marijuana
often because you need more to get as high that way,
and it isn’t cheap or easy to get (which is the
reason why some people will stoop to smoking leaves.)
This may sound funny to you — but the more legal
marijuana gets, the safer it is.
It is pretty obvious to users that marijuana prohibition
laws are not “for their own good.” In addition to the
above, legal marijuana would be clean and free from
adulterants. Some people add other drugs to marijuana
before they sell it. Some people spray room freshener on it
or soak in in chemicals like formaldehyde! A lot of the
marijuana is grown outdoors, where it may be sprayed with
pesticides or contaminated with dangerous fungi. If the
government really cared about our health, they would form an
agency which would make sure only quality marijuana was
sold. This would be cheaper than keeping it illegal, and it
would keep people from getting hurt and going to the
FACT: Studies have shown that smoking marijuana does NOT increase your chance of getting cancer and may even lower it slightly! Of course, vaping or eating cannabis are still considered the safest methods of ingestion especially for daily consumers.
“Early on, when our research appeared as if there would be a negative impact on lung health, I was opposed to legalization because I thought it would lead to increased use and that would lead to increased health effects,” Tashkin says. “But at this point, I’d be in favor of legalization.
Tobacco smoking causes far more harm. And in terms of an intoxicant, alcohol causes far more harm.
UCLA’s Tashkin studied heavy marijuana smokers to determine whether the use led to increased risk of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. He hypothesized that there would be a definitive link between cancer and marijuana smoking, but the results proved otherwise.
“What we found instead was no association and even a suggestion of some protective effect,” says Tashkin, whose research was the largest case-control study ever conducted.
(Listen to Tashkin’s full interview here)
A new study, published in January 2012 Journal of the American Medical Association, tested the lung function of over 5,000 young adults between 18 and 30. After 20 years of testing, researchers found some buzzworthy results: regular marijuana smokers (defined by up to a joint a day for seven years) had no discernible impairment in lung activity from non-smokers.
In fact, researchers were surprised to find marijuana smokers performed slightly better than both smokers and non-smokers on the lung performance test. Why? The most likely explanation seems to be that the act of inhaling marijuana—holding each puff in for as long as possible—is a lot like a pulmonary function test, giving marijuana smokers an edge over their cigarette smoking counterparts.
For most of human existence, cannabis has been considered a medicine. Queen Victoria used it to alleviate her menstrual cramps. Extracts were prescribed by doctors and available at every pharmacy in the U.S. According to Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser, attitudes toward cannabis only shifted when Americans began to notice and object to its use by immigrants around the turn of the 20th century. More here.
- Marijuana And Lungs: Study Finds Drug Doesn’t Do Same Kind Of Damage As Tobacco
- Marijuana cuts lung cancer tumor growth in half, Harvard study shows
- Study: Long-Term Marijuana Smoking Doesn’t Significantly Harm Your Lungs
- TIME: Smoking Marijuana Not Linked with Lung Damage