While marijuana (cannabis) has long been known for its medicinal uses, which range from treating mental disorders to providing relief of chronic pain, there are noteworthy drawbacks to smoking marijuana. Marijuana smokers lungs are exposed to tar and chemicals that can cause coughing, wheezing, and other related respiratory problems.
Chemicals in Marijuana
Carcinogens are known to be present in marijuana smoke. Some of the chemicals present in marijuana include benzopyrene and benzanthracene. These known carcinogens are also present in tobacco, but the amounts found in marijuana smoke are equal to or higher than the amounts found in tobacco smoke. Tar and other chemicals are also found in marijuana smoke. It should be noted however studies have shown most marijuana smokers do not smoke as much as tobacco smokers and as a result their lungs are typically exposed to less tar and chemicals. The amount of tar and chemicals can also be reduced by the use of vaporizers that have grown in use by marijuana smokers in recent years for their health benefits.
The Effects of Smoking Marijuana
Some people experience increased respiratory problems smoking marijuana. Coughing and increased sputum production are common among long-term smokers. Shortness of breath, wheezing, and inflammation of the airway are also particularly common in marijuana smokers lungs. Symptoms like coughing can also be more troublesome for people with preexisting respiratory conditions. Smoking also limits the lung’s ability to filter dust and germs out of the body, which can increase infections in marijuana smokers lungs. Depending on how they inhale, marijuana smokers lungs can be exposed to additional tar and carcinogens because most marijuana smokers tend to inhale more deeply and hold the smoke in their lungs for a longer amount of time than tobacco smokers.
Alternatives to Smoking
A wide range of alternatives are available to people living in states where medical marijuana is legal. One growing alternative people are turning to are marijuana edibles that contain the same active ingredients as unprocessed marijuana, but the product is eaten rather than smoked. Other options include syrups or oils that are taken orally.