The Not-So-Great Side of Smoking Cannabis You Should Know

Although smoking marijuana has yet to be linked to cancer in humans, this method of consumption can do some damage to your respiratory system (as inhaling the smoke of anything could). Here are some things to keep in mind next time you decide to light up.

Jul 3, 2015

As the world embraces marijuana more than ever before, research on the plant is at an all time high. With these advancements in research, scientists can provide a more thorough understanding of the health effects that cannabis has on the body. It is also important to note that although cannabis affects everyone differently, there are some negative respiratory effects associated with smoking cannabis.

Cannabis smoke has never been linked to cancer in a human. However, tobacco smoke and cannabis smoke have similar properties. The difference in marijuana is the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) which have showcased anti-cancer properties. In comparison, tobacco smoke supports the development of cancer cells in the bloodstream, while cannabis has the extra properties of THC and CBD to delay or stop these cellular changes.

Cannabis is not off the hook, however — the Journal of Clinical Investigation shows that the same cellular abnormalities have been found in both cannabis and cigarette smokers. It should be noted that many cannabis smokers also consume tobacco, many times with cannabis in the form of tobacco rolling paper. Regardless, smoking damages the bronchial system in ways that could lead to respiratory cancers, bronchitis, lung cysts, reduced lung density and wheezing/coughing.

Don’t let us break your heart: the versatility of cannabis leaves room for many other alternatives of consumption, including vapor, edibles and cannabis oil.

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Photo credit: NeydtStock / Shutterstock

Vaporizers are commonplace in many cannabis lounges popping up throughout the country. This is good news considering that along with being odorless, vaporizers are also much healthier for your respiratory system. Vaporizers heat the cannabis flower right to the point of combustion (between 200 and 400 degrees), at which point the marijuana is converted into a gas or vapor. With vaporizing you can enjoy cannabis guilt-free without worrying about how it affects your respiratory system. Vaporizers work with both dried cannabis flowers and concentrates.

Cannabis Oil
CBD 1 Have you been duped? Heres what the feds dont want you to know about cannabis legalization.
Photo credit: Celeb Stoner

Another safe way to consume medical marijuana is with cannabis oil, which is the essential oil of the cannabis plant. These oils are most commonly taken orally and allow for the user to experience THC without the extra chemicals ingested from smoking the dried plant. Cannabis oil is also very popular with patients looking for high CBD strains, allowing patients to receive the medical benefits of the plant without the psychoactive ones (often use with young people to treat diseases like epilepsy).

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Photo credit: Natali Zakharova / Shutterstock

Finally, the last and most creative way to consume marijuana safely and effectively is through cannabis edibles. Edibles contain either high THC or CBD levels and pose no threat to your respiratory health. The only medical issue? The doses of cannabis oil in the food may lead to powerful highs that can be hard to regulate.

With all that being said, we know most of you won’t stop puffing cannabis flower—and we can’t blame you. However, with a better understanding of how these alternatives work, it is our hope to see more cannabis users consume safely, with minimal impact on your body.


Featured image Michal Vitek / Shutterstock

Jul 3, 2015