According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the US. Use among teens and young adults is on the rise, concerning the health care community due to the fact that this demographic is still developing. When smoked, dried marijuana can lead to negative affects from the lungs to the brain. Not only does the smoke irritate the lungs, but it can also lead to breathing problems and increased heart rate. These cardiovascular risks are among some of the most serious among marijuana smokers, much like tobacco smokers.
Smoking anything – whether it is a cigarette or a joint – is harmful to your lungs. Marijuana is of particular concern to the American Lung Association due to its increasing use and harmful affects. A study found that marijuana smokers who inhaled more deeply and held their breath longer before releasing are exposing themselves to a large amount of tar. In addition, smoking cannabis has been linked to incidences of air pockets developing between the lungs and the chest walls.
Smoking weed has also been shown to damage the lungs through the smoke damaging the cell linings in the throat. This leads to increased incidences of chronic bronchitis, cough, wheezing and trouble breathing. I have experienced this. You know ‘Weed Smokers Cough’ – that’s bronchitis.
There is no hard data on secondhand marijuana exposure at this time, but doctors are pushing for more studies on the subject. Since secondhand pot smoke has been shown to have many of the same toxic chemicals found in inhaled smoke, doctors are concerned about the effects – especially for vulnerable populations at risk of exposure.
The damage to the the lungs, throat and cardiovascular system also taxes the immune system. A study found that pot smokers who already had weakened immune systems were at higher risk for illness and infections. For people with normally function immune systems, the risk of damage is still there, especially during cold and flu season. When the cell lining of the throat is damaged, the body’s defense against germs is diminished, leading to higher susceptibility for getting sick.
There is a common misconception that smoking pot is not as harmful as tobacco because there are not as many chemicals and additives in marijuana. But that does that guarantee that the marijuana you’re smoking hasn’t been exposed to toxic substances during its cultivation or distribution.
There is currently no vetting of black-market marijuana, so it is impossible to know if and what the plants have been treated with. In fact, a recent study at Humboldt State University found that up to 70% of pesticides found on tested marijuana buds can transfer to the smoke during inhalation. Study authors are pushing for more extensive pesticide testing in marijuana – especially medical cannabis, as it could be causing more damage than its worth.