Medical study reveals no lung damage from casual marijuana smoking

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Photo: CBSNews.com

In a major milestone for advocates of marijuana legalization, The Journal of the American Medical Association has published the results of a study which found that casual marijuana use does not harm lung function.

It was just a few months ago in October that the California Medical Association adopted a position urging the legalization of marijuana at its annual meeting. At the time, I reported that the California Medical Association acknowledged in its position that marijuana carries health risks, not unlike the use of nicotine and alcohol, but qualified that it should also be legal and regulated like nicotine and alcohol, arguing that the effects of prohibition have caused more harm to public health and families than the potential risks of marijuana use.

Even if you don’t completely agree with it, that position seems reasonable enough, and it’s a position that more and more health experts and even law enforcement officials are beginning to adopt. But, the findings in this newly-published study indicate that smoking marijuana doesn’t even carry the same health risks as smoking tobacco cigarettes, which is legal and regulated in the United States.

The study, which tracked and tested over 5,000 men and women for twenty years between 1985 and 2006, found that marijuana users who smoke an entire joint a day for seven years, or one joint a week for twenty years did not exhibit any decrease in lung function as measured by lung airflow and lung volume. And get this: casual “pot” users actually exhibited a small, but statistically significant increase in lung function.

According to one of the study’s co-authors:

“At levels of marijuana exposure commonly seen in Americans, occasional marijuana use was associated with increases in lung air flow rates and increases in lung capacity.”

The researchers speculate that marijuana users, who (with the exception of Bill Clinton) tend to inhale deeply when they smoke it, might be inadvertently exercising and strengthening their lungs. That, along with the anti-inflammatory effects of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana plants, might be keeping the lungs of “pot” smokers in good shape while their tobacco-smoking counterparts suffered decreased lung function as this and many other studies attest.

But despite these results, one writer at the Los Angeles Times predicts that the study “probably will not change minds as to whether the drug should be legalized.” The writer included arguments that marijuana can still have unhealthy effects on the lungs at higher rates of use, and can affect other aspects of health negatively, especially brain development in adolescents, but did not directly support the assertion that this new study is unlikely to change other people’s minds.

The American Medical Association published the study in the January 11th edition of its journal, the same day that the Mexican government updated its death toll figures from the war on drugs, “reporting that 47,515 people had been killed in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderón began a military assault on criminal cartels in late 2006.” Critics of U.S. drug prohibition argue that the violence in Mexico is a direct result of U.S. prohibition measures, which create a black market for marijuana, a black market that Mexican criminal cartels have found lucrative, using their profits to purchase more weapons and engage in more criminal– often violent– activity. To borrow a common argument from Second Amendment activists: If you outlaw the sale of marijuana, only outlaws will profit from the sale of marijuana.

The coincidence of the AMA-published study and the announcement of the Mexican government’s new death toll figures is darkly poetic. While moderate marijuana use appears to do no long term damage to users’ lungs, prohibiting marijuana use by law appears to continue doing long term damage to the lives, safety, and stability of the Mexican people. All of this new information will give Californians a lot to consider as three new proposals to lift or soften marijuana prohibition make their way through the petition process and toward the 2012 ballot in November.

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  1. Ashley It is really great to know marijuana use have no lungs damage.California Medical Association has really done great search. Order Stromectol Online
  2. Karpedmmd Marihuana is the correct Spelling of the herb. Reference :Best &Taylor .
  3. born empty so has anybody ever even heard of RON PAUL!!!!! He pulling at my heart strings talkin bout....... legalizing Hemp for industrial use. Do u realize how important that is!!! Well,obviously legalizing Pot too, but man the heavenly vibes just waiting to be had. HEMP. look it up. Ron Paul 2012
  4. kaitlin This study seems to prove that tobacco is dangerous and needs to be illegal too. But I might just think that because a lack of heart/lung risks and increased lung function don't convince me much.
  5. Jim Ulam and your complaint is?
  6. Mike Morrato I agree Zach. MMJ is a joke. Colorado is a prime example of how easy it is to get a red card and then get some high grade smoke. And you are right. We need to "shit or get off the pot" when it comes to marijuana in this country. There have been countries that have decriminalized narcotic use (even to the extreme you mentioned previously) and the net effect is that overall usage has gone down. Im leery of making hardcore stuff legal like meth but there is no sane nor rational decision behind this nations pot laws.
  7. Zach Webb My only complaint is the whole medical Mj is a farce, either legalize it or don't - if it's for medical use it should be dispensed at a pharmacy and controlled by the FDA, medical marijuana is just a way to let potheads skirt the system - are there SOME people using it for medical purposes, sure - but the majority are not. In fact I don't know a SINGLE real medical marijuana user, but I know at least 20 people with cards for "headaches" and "back pain", and know two dispensary owners who hide behind the "as long as they have a prescription it's not my fault" even though all the people coming in are their friends and family... it's just a scam. I really don't care EITHER way, but don't lie about it's use.
  8. Mike Morrato Because there is no known long term harm from Marijuana and users of marijuana rarely commit crimes while high other than the fact they smoked pot. Marijuana has a number of well defined and known positive effects. Yes it is smoking and smoking in general is bad but beyond that it is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco both in health and social aspects.
  9. Zach Webb I mean why stop at pot, legalize meth, coke and heroin, protitution and gambling in every county/city - the fact is people are going to do it anyway so why shouldn't the government profit off it.
  10. Bob Morris The Prison-Industrial Complex is the primary obstacle. Lots of folks make lots of money from drugs being illegal.
19 comments
Ashley
Ashley

It is really great to know marijuana use have no lungs damage.California Medical Association has really done great search. Order Stromectol Online

Karpedmmd
Karpedmmd

Marihuana is the correct Spelling of the herb.

Reference :Best &Taylor .

born empty
born empty

so has anybody ever even heard of RON PAUL!!!!!

He pulling at my heart strings talkin bout.......

legalizing Hemp for industrial use. Do u realize how important that is!!!

Well,obviously legalizing Pot too, but man the heavenly vibes just waiting to be had. HEMP. look it up. Ron Paul 2012

kaitlin
kaitlin

This study seems to prove that tobacco is dangerous and needs to be illegal too. But I might just think that because a lack of heart/lung risks and increased lung function don't convince me much.

Mike Morrato
Mike Morrato

I agree Zach. MMJ is a joke. Colorado is a prime example of how easy it is to get a red card and then get some high grade smoke. And you are right. We need to "shit or get off the pot" when it comes to marijuana in this country.

There have been countries that have decriminalized narcotic use (even to the extreme you mentioned previously) and the net effect is that overall usage has gone down. Im leery of making hardcore stuff legal like meth but there is no sane nor rational decision behind this nations pot laws.

Zach Webb
Zach Webb

My only complaint is the whole medical Mj is a farce, either legalize it or don't - if it's for medical use it should be dispensed at a pharmacy and controlled by the FDA, medical marijuana is just a way to let potheads skirt the system - are there SOME people using it for medical purposes, sure - but the majority are not. In fact I don't know a SINGLE real medical marijuana user, but I know at least 20 people with cards for "headaches" and "back pain", and know two dispensary owners who hide behind the "as long as they have a prescription it's not my fault" even though all the people coming in are their friends and family... it's just a scam. I really don't care EITHER way, but don't lie about it's use.

Mike Morrato
Mike Morrato

Because there is no known long term harm from Marijuana and users of marijuana rarely commit crimes while high other than the fact they smoked pot. Marijuana has a number of well defined and known positive effects. Yes it is smoking and smoking in general is bad but beyond that it is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco both in health and social aspects.

Zach Webb
Zach Webb

I mean why stop at pot, legalize meth, coke and heroin, protitution and gambling in every county/city - the fact is people are going to do it anyway so why shouldn't the government profit off it.

Bob Morris
Bob Morris

The Prison-Industrial Complex is the primary obstacle. Lots of folks make lots of money from drugs being illegal.

Steve Clark
Steve Clark

I bet they would find that casual cigarette smoking has the same effect LoL Oh wait I forgot ,when asked most people didn't inhale

Mike Morrato
Mike Morrato

Want to hamstring the cartels? Legalize pot, regulate who and how much can be grown, tax the he'll out of it and spend interdiction and enforcement dollars more wisely.

Then we can focus more on bigger problems like meth, coke and heroin.

James Kessler
James Kessler

absolutly. Look bottom line is this. Any hobby, recreation or action can be addictive. As can any liquor, beer, powder or medicine. If there is no evidence that it kills or harms. Legalize it. Save money, time, resources, lives to say the least

ramon pena
ramon pena

such an old story. anyway isnt the number 1 drug of addicts prescription drugs? so what the hell...legalize the thing already

Jane Susskind
Jane Susskind

The results of the AMA report come at an interesting time--just as America finds that prolonged marijuana use is not as harmful as previously believed, the Mexican government reports that an astonishing 47,515 people had been killed in drug-related violence since 2006.

Maybe it's time to take a closer look at California's three proposals to decriminalize and even legalize marijuana. With the appropriate regulations, the legalization of marijuana could not only create much needed tax revenues to California, but could also help end the drug violence in Mexico. These numbers prove that it's time to take a closer look at drug policy.

W. E. Messamore
W. E. Messamore

I think the key is to keep chipping away at the legitimacy of federal prohibition by way of nullifying state laws. We're on the right track. Maybe we'll get a good Supreme Court ruling.