Is Secondhand Cannabis Smoke Dangerous?

The False Narrative of Secondhand Cannabis Smoke

Secondhand cannabis smoke kills! Or so a recently published article by NBC News and written by the CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights would have you believe.

All smoke, cannabis related or from a campfire, can negatively impact your health. This is due to the combustion of plant material that causes ashen plant particles, toxins, and carcinogens to enter your lungs.

However, so far, scientific studies have shown that cannabis smoke is significantly less harmful than the article describes.

Here are some facts you should know about how cannabis smoke effects the body:

  • Two separate studies from 2014 and 2006 found, separately, that while smoking did leave tar behind in the lungs, smoking cannabis did not increase the risk of lung cancer.
  • Cannabis users who smoked anything less than one joint a day for 20 years did not show signs of lung damage as per data Atlanta’s Emory University analyzed from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey’s use of spirometry tests.
  • Only heavy users (similar to one joint a day) have increased risk of shortness of breath and inflammation, but only after 20 years of smoking did the risk increase (as per the Emory analysis).
  • A US study in 2012 of over 5,000 people in 4 cities showed that unless you are a heavy user, there was no correlation between cannabis use and adverse pulmonary function.

The link between cannabis and lung disease has been widely debunked when analysis of all current scientific literature on the topic is conducted.  One such publication, while used by many to support the link between lung damage and cannabis use, clearly states “habitual use of marijuana alone does not appear to lead to significant abnormalities in lung function when assessed either cross-sectionally or longitudinally.”

Scientific studies in the past ten years have helped to discredit many widely held beliefs about the dangers of cannabis. While research is still in its infancy, it is important to not believe everything you read at first glance and stay informed!

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