I think that it is safe to say that marijuana does more good than it does harm, and after reading this, I think you will agree with me!
Many people still believe that because tobacco smoking causes cancer that means that marijuana would too. Those people would be wrong.
Marijuana actually decreases the risk of lung cancer, and does not cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Thus making marijuana a lot safer than cigarettes.
Dr. Donald Tashkin of UCLA and one of the United States leading pulmonologists has been studying marijuana and its effects on the lungs for over 30 years. Dr. Tashkin once sought to prove that marijuana causes cancer, but the evidence forced him to conclude the opposite.
“The smoke content of marijuana is very similar to that of tobacco. There is a higher concentrate of cancer-causing chemicals in marijuana tar, and it reaches the lungs before any other organ, so there is this idea that they are related in causing the same health issues of the lungs. But through my studies we failed to find any positive association [with cancer]. Instead, the association would be negative, between lung cancer and the use of marijuana. The likelihood is, that despite the fact that marijuana smoke contains carcinogens, we don’t see the same heightened risks of cancers that we see in tobacco.”
To investigate the association between cannabis smoking and lung cancer risk, data on 2,159 lung cancer cases and 2,985 controls were pooled from 6 case-control studies in the U.S., Canada, U.K, and New Zealand. Results proved little evidence for an increase risk of lung cancer among long-term cannabis smokers.
“I was opposed to legalization because I thought it would lead to increased use and that would lead to increased health effects. But at this point, I’d be in favor of legalization. I wouldn’t encourage anybody to smoke any substances. But I don’t think it should be stigmatized as an illegal substance. Tobacco smoking causes far more harm. And in terms of an intoxicant, alcohol causes far more harm.” – Dr. Tashkin.
Dr. Tashkin also found that marijuana does not cause COPD. “Reasoning for this may be that marijuana is a potent anti-inflammatory and suppressive. But COPD is activated by tobacco smoke and other toxic substances. The other major impact of tobacco smoking on the lungs is the association between smoking tobacco and the development of destructive pulmonary disease, the third cause of death in America.”
In a cross-sectional analysis using data from two rounds of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, researchers found that adults aged 18-59 who smoked a joint a day were still able to forcibly exhale the same volume of air in one second as someone who did not smoke at all.
And lastly, the largest and longest study ever to consider the issue, published in 2012 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that occasional marijuana smoking does not impair lung function at all.
“Marijuana may have beneficial effects on pain control, appetite, mood, and management of other chronic symptoms. Our findings suggest that occasional use of marijuana for these or other purposes may not be associated with adverse consequences on pulmonary function.”