According to a group of experts from the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand (who did not receive any funding from the NIH or any other American Health agencies), smoking one cannabis (marijuana) cigarette (“joint”) is as harmful to a person’s lungs as smoking up to five cigarettes.
To do this study, the researchers tested 339 people, which they divided into four groups; those who smoked only cannabis, those who smoked only tobacco, those who smoked both, and non-smokers. Cannabis (“pot”) smokers were included if they smoked at least one joint per day for at least five years, while tobacco smokers had to have smoked 20 cigarettes per day for one year.
The researchers found that only those who smoked tobacco suffered from the crippling lung disease emphysema (as well as cancer), whereas cannabis use was associated with symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and excessive phlegm production. According to their study, cannabis damaged the function of the large airways of the lungs, obstructing air flow and forcing the lungs to work harder, thus contributing to the development of bronchitis.
But, let me remind you; people who smoked only pot did not suffer from emphysema (nor from cancer), which is a serious and crippling lung disease. I can’t believe these researchers are even comparing the life-shortening effects of emphysema to “wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and excessive phlegm production” — as if these are equally serious health problems!
But not surprisingly, the researchers found that lung damage was correlated to the number of joints smoked.
“The extent of this damage was directly related to the number of joints smoked, with higher consumption linked to greater incapacity,” noted the authors in their report.
But once again, they are overlooking the obvious: It is not the drug itself that poses health problems for the lungs, but rather, it’s the delivery method that is the problem — for example, if marijuana was eaten instead of smoked, there would be no lung problem!
And here’s where the politics enters into the picture: Currently, the British government is considering whether cannabis should be reclassified as a more serious drug because of the dangers associated with stronger strains. But hopefully, they will think this decision through logically first. And let me point out that something shouldn’t necessarily be made illegal just because it’s “bad for you.” If that were the case, we could use that same logic to outlaw tobacco, alcohol, and eating too much food because they are bad for you, but I don’t see anyone trying to outlaw or regulate those substances.
Additionally, the researchers failed to mention the use of pesticides on tobacco (but apparently not on cannabis) — pesticides that also cause serious health problems. Further, the researchers neglected to note that the difference between Joe Stoner and Jim Fundamentalist is that Joe Stoner isn’t trying to make everyone smoke pot while Jim Fundamentalist is busily polluting everyone’s lungs with his second-hand smoke.
Because the British government might reclassify cannabis as a more dangerous drug, it is not surprising to learn that British researchers also found that smoking marijuana increased the risk of developing a psychotic illness such as schizophrenia. Well, heck, there supposedly is a link between left-handedness and schizophrenia too. Maybe we should make left-handedness illegal also?
This study was published in the medical journal Thorax.