USA: Is Marijuana Good For You?

Discussion in 'The Drug War Headline News' started by claygooding, Jan 12, 2012.

  1. claygooding claygooding

    • DrugWarVeteran
    • Since: May 13, 2009
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    USA: Is Marijuana Good For You?
    TheFix / Kevin Sabet / 1,12,2011

    A study released this week suggests smoking pot doesn't harm the lungs. It's not telling the whole truth.


    Marijuana smoke doesnt just get you high.

    On Tuesday, major newspapers and pro-pot blogs alike published stories with the headline “Marijuana use does not harm the lungs.” They reported a surprising finding in a study of over 5,000 people, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, that occasional marijuana use did not harm the lungs. Heavier use, such as very frequent use, as well as occasional tobacco use, however, did show a decline a lung function. Most surprisingly, the study’s authors speculate that the mild beneficial effects they found in occasional marijuana smokers could be due to enhanced lung capacity resulting from the heavy and extended inhalations entailed in marijuana smoking. On the flip side, since beneficial lung effects were only observed in occasional marijuana smokers, the authors speculate that exposure to potential toxins was insufficient to outweigh or undo the observed benefits they report.

    It's an intriguing study. After it was published, some former Oxford colleagues and I looked at the researcher’s methods and study design. We didn’t find anything in the study design to question its methodology. Yes, it would have made sense to test the THC levels of marijuana in these smokers, who started using 20 years ago, when the THC and tar levels were much lower than they are today. But the researchers followed standard protocol, and there is no reason to believe they had a pre-set agenda. They were, by all news accounts, judicious and cautious about making grand claims about marijuana’s positive health effects.

    In fact, the lead researcher admitted that “Marijuana is clearly an irritative smoke for the lungs,” citing coughing after taking a “hit” to illustrate his point.

    This study looked at one single outcome—lung capacity. The truth is that marijuana is linked to all kinds of respiratory problems, and studies have consistently shown this, although they barely gain much attention—perhaps because people have come to expect such findings. Long-term studies from the USA and New Zealand have shown that regular cannabis smokers report more symptoms of chronic bronchitis than non-smokers. There is a four-fold greater quantity of cannabis smoke particles (tar) in the respiratory tract compared to the tar generated from the same amount of smoked tobacco. Again, the way marijuana is smoked may have something to do with this: marijuana smokers hold their breath significantly longer than tobacco smokers. Interestingly, this latest study shows that the heavy breathing in done by the occasional marijuana smokers may help them—but only in the short run, since more frequent use seems to wipe out any benefit. But marijuana smoke also includes an enzyme that converts some hydrocarbons into a cancer-causing form, potentially accelerating the changes that produce malignant cells. Animal lungs exposed to cannabis smoke developed abnormal cell growth and accelerated malignant transformation, to a greater extent than those exposed to tobacco. An interesting note is that researchers caution HIV positive individuals who smoke cannabis may be predisposed to pulmonary infections and pneumonia, a consequence that no doubt warrants further investigation.

    Sadly, advocates caught up in their adulation of the JAMA finding neglected to mention any of these findings from the over four decades of research tying marijuana use to mucosal injury, inflammation, increased cough and phlegm production, and wheezing. They also left out marijuana’s link to increased bronchitis, worsening of asthma symptoms, and worsening of cystic fibrosis symptoms. (In case you’re wondering, the evidence linking marijuana and lung cancer are mixed, with a recent study stating that “cannabis smoking increases the risk of developing a lung cancer independently of an eventual associated tobacco exposure.” Other studies have failed to find such a link.)

    I asked a few other experts for their take on the study. Mark Gold, perhaps the most distinguished professor in the country on drugs and the brain and body, told me, “It is possible, but not proven, that cannabis smoke may be less toxic than cigarette smoke, but it is not better than clean air. Clear, unbiased, and convincing evidence of safety and comparable efficacy are needed for therapeutic claims. It is smoke, after all.”

    “Columbus brought Tobacco to the 'New World' and it took nearly 500 years for absolute proof of tobacco smoke dangerousness to be established,” Gold continued. “To this day, each year, over 400,000 United States deaths are due to tobacco smoke. We had occasional tobacco smokers in the 18th century and textbooks written describing the wonders and medicinal value of tobacco smoking. The occasional smoker increasingly becomes an anachronism with increased access augmented by social marketing, claims of therapeutic efficacy, reduced stigma and price.”

    Bob DuPont, the man who introduced modern drug treatment to Washington D.C. and served three presidents as founding director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said, “Every user of alcohol or marijuana starts out intending to be a moderate, infrequent user and is quickly reassured that this goal is easily achieved. But it does not work out that way for a significant proportion of those initial users.”
    Furthermore, he asks, “What other health-related advice is justified when a large minority of people who take that advice suffer terrible—often fatal—consequences?”

    Indeed, one could imagine a study on speeding that would show the vast majority of people who speed do so safely and get to their destinations faster than those who obey speed limits. They are not arrested and have no accidents—in fact, for some reason researchers are still not sure about, they tend to have significantly less accidents than slower drivers. But that doesn’t mean we would suddenly approve of speeding and promote its activity.

    We still have a long way to go to fully understand how, why, and if marijuana affects all different kinds of bodily functions, and certainly this new research should lead us to more serious study of marijuana’s effect on the lungs specifically. Any objective look at the existing science will show that marijuana causes decreased cognitive skills (including attention, motivation, memory and learning), as well as impaired driving, psychosis, or panic during intoxication, and addiction, which occurs in about one in every 10 users (a number similar to alcohol, and lower than cocaine, which addicts about one in six people who ever use it). There is no doubt that this finding on lung function and marijuana gives us much to mull over. For example, a longitudinal study is needed that looks at current trends of high dose marijuana and heavy users, especially those using frequently for “medical purposes.” But to say that marijuana smoke is now good for you, as some have suggested, is both disingenuous and dangerous.

    Kevin A. Sabet, Ph.D., a newly appointed assistant professor at University of Florida's School of Medicine, is a regular columnist at The Fix and Huffington Post and a former Obama Drug Policy Adviser. He took a long, deep breath of Manhattan air before writing this article from his favorite coffeeshop in Greenwich Village. He is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    Comments are open,,,mine:
    ""But to say that marijuana smoke is now good for you, as some have suggested, is both disingenuous and dangerous.""

    Some,,,try 21 million people.
    3 people like this.
  2. Sm0ked-one Sm0ked-one

    • Sr. Member
    • Since: Jul 11, 2010
    • Posts: 1,605
    my bullshit detector is goin crazy ritht now
  3. Pobie Pobie

    • Member
    • Since: Oct 1, 2011
    • Posts: 92
    First off for any of you who havent seen, I hijacked a thread here in the sports section related to working out:

    As I say in the thread, I've gotten into pretty badass shape both sober, and now with the aid of pot (taken before during and after every exercise period save a few. (which sucked btw :p) I can say that without a doubt, having run 5 miles yesterday in 45 minutes, my lungs are the least of my problems; the only thing stopping me from improving daily is my muscles and bones adapting to the distance and strain of running. I did notice the beginning symptoms of brown lung; which is essentially just phlem in the lungs, which led to an increased frequency of coughing... However, it then occured to me that my lungs also fill with phlem under a number of other situations including being sick... Further, and quite counter-intuitively I might add; besides that fact my lungs had never felt stronger.
    So I figure its simple, the smoke paralyzes cilia in your lungs which stops them from cleaning them out... So to alleviate that entirely (so far) I've learned all I had to do is breathing exercises. In the span of about 10 minutes I got all of the crap out of my lungs; and I have had vastly reduced if not entirely eliminated the symptoms since. The increased phlem I also believe was from me smoking some trash weed that had pesticides on it, because it tasted baaad and both my gf and I would cough no matter the size of hit.
    I would also argue that perhaps if it weren't for the trash weed, I wouldn't have shown the symptoms at all, since the problem only reared its head within the last few weeks (during the same time we only had the trash weed available) However, I could also say that without that experience I may not have started doing breathing exercises!

    Anyway, I have plans to continue exercising of course... But to further prove it to myself mentally, and maybe to help the cause for MJ I've decided to continue increasing my goals to see if and when it no longer benefits me, and I've been sharing my experience as I go in that thread. At some point I plan on going to have a physical exam done, including some extensive lung testing. It's my feeling that the negative effects on your body can be entirely negated with exercise and breathing exercises. I haven't even been using a vape mind you, I take it to the head through a waterpipe and a small pipe I take running.

    I was glad to see that original article as a headliner on (
    because it defeats PART of the stigma against MJ, and personally it lends credibility and to a shit ton of anecdotal evidence and personal experience; even though it's littered with the same ol' tired, incorrect, or biased arguments against it. What I have noticed is that in popular culture and media, rather than declaring it OKAY, it seems like the arguments against it are dropping off one by one :)

    Time will tell what my lungs are actually experiencing... hopefully not cancer XD
  4. Cpt Insanooo Cpt Insanooo

    • Active Member
    • Since: May 10, 2009
    • Posts: 223
    Correct me if I'm wrong but how does one increase the tar levels of anything? Theoretically, isn't tar the remainder of combustible plant product in your lungs and the levels stay constant based on the substance/how much you smoked/method of smoking...not directly related to anything that you could genetically change?
  5. Freshness420 Freshness420

    • Sr. Member
    • Since: Nov 10, 2009
    • Posts: 1,767
    I smoke both Black n Milds and a hefty amount of the greenery. Sometimes I like to do studies as well but on a much lower level(say one subject). I quit Black n Milds and felt so much better lung wise. I had a lingering smokers cough and it went away while I was still smoking weed. I quit weed and only smoked Black n Milds occasionally and nothing was really different. All these studies can show how good/bad marijuana is for you, but in my experiences it all depends on YOU. Everyone is different when it comes to THC in my personal opinion. If we all have different fingerprints then couldn't it mean we all have different lungs? Again I am no scientist but I figured I'd throw my two pennies.
  6. Teleo9 Teleo9

    • Active Member
    • Since: Dec 1, 2010
    • Posts: 675
    I really think the legalization effort should push vaporizers more than they have. Most people don't know they exist and I believe they have been proven nearly 100% healthy. All of these "lung damage" arguments distract away from a good point, that you don't HAVE to smoke weed with a joint! It's legal to put gasoline in my car, but it's bad for me to drink it. So why can't I just buy weed to eat it or vaporize it but not smoke it?

    I think this where a lot of advocates against weed don't see our point of view. They consider that smoking anything can't be healthy to the lungs, thus marijuana must not be healthy, so they will dismiss any argument we have for it.
    2 people like this.
  7. claygooding claygooding

    • DrugWarVeteran
    • Since: May 13, 2009
    • Posts: 9,611
    It is true that they see smoking as bad,,but with all the miles of films showing people smoking joints,convincing anyone we want to eat it or vaporize it will cause the legalization effort to slow down,,not speed up.
  8. Pobie Pobie

    • Member
    • Since: Oct 1, 2011
    • Posts: 92
    I agree with clay, and to take it further:
    If marijuana even in what we would consider a dangerous form (smoke) DOESNT actually harm you, then the bottom drops out of countless other arguments. When I talk to people and am arguing my case, I like to start at the top and use only the edibles/vaporizers as my ace in the hole :p

    People I've told say well that says only moderate and light users, but the fact that you can say that about any user is contradictory to what we've been told our whole lives by the people who have educated us, our government. This is (edit: one of many damning pieces) of evidence as to the idiocy of political decision making over the last 30 years regarding a plant so easily obtained its called weed.
  9. mallitia95 mallitia95

    • Sr. Tokemaster
    • Since: May 13, 2011
    • Posts: 4,197
    I thought it was odd when they said tar levels had increased along with thc and other cannabinoids. Though I know that's not true. The plant wasn't cultivated for it tar, it was for it's thc.
  10. Teleo9 Teleo9

    • Active Member
    • Since: Dec 1, 2010
    • Posts: 675
    Well, I do disagree with you that smoking in joint or bowl form will not harm you. While, like the article suggests, your lungs may be operating as normal, you're still inhaling potentially harmful carcinogens that may affect your body in a negative way. So I don't believe it's truthful to say that marijuana smoke by combustion "won't harm you." I don't believe it's as harmful as they would like you to believe, but I think it is naive to think it is not harmful at all.

    But hey, I love my vaporizers, so I'm probably biased!
    1 people like this.
  11. Pobie Pobie

    • Member
    • Since: Oct 1, 2011
    • Posts: 92
    As you say it MAY harm you, that isn't the point. Until I see some good medical evidence showing that it harms my lungs (keeping in mind this is evidence to the contrary) I can take that and add it to my personal experience which is that my lungs have never felt better, and I've run 4+ miles for the last 8 days consecutively (high as a kite I might add). I would argue my exercise regime more than counters and ill-effects from smoking mj on a daily basis. But I love vaping too, I even have a wand one myself... which I fully intend on trying with my running some day :p (up till this point I've solely been smoking)

    It's also worth noting I smoke between a gram and 1.5 grams a day

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