Every time you hear a doctor on a pro-weed doc*mentary talking about the lack of side effects from marijuana, they always have that little side note to the tune of “but it may cause emphysema and other lung troubles.” Well, it turns out that for most users that's not actually true.
The Journal of the American Medical Association released the results of a study on Tuesday that showed that occasional marijuana use does not harm lung function. There is, however, a downside for regular smokers. By “occasional” they mean what your mom thought you meant when you said you only do it “occasionally” in high school. Apparently the average weed smoker wasn’t lying to Mom and only smokes a joint a week or so and these results only apply to them. I don’t know these people. Where are they? Oh wait, they’re talking about preppie, drunk girls at parties. Yeah, that’s it.
There weren’t enough heavy marijuana smokers involved in the study to draw any conclusions about heavy use, which was classified as two joints a day or more (which is what I thought was less than “occasional” use in high school).
The study, conducted by researchers at UC-San Francisco (naturally) and UAB, was based on data collected from a federal health study from 1985-2005, which measured the health of 5,115 young adults. During the original 20-year study, lung function was measured. It showed that not only did people who reported using marijuana weekly not suffer from declining lung function, but some actually showed improved lung function. This is thought to be attributed to the fact that weed smokers inhale deeply, which may strengthen lung tissue or that lung tests require the same breathing used when smoking, so marijuana users are more “practiced.”
Cigarette smokers of course showed decreased lung function over time (which is no surprise to anyone who smokes or has smoked). The researchers also speculated that, even though marijuana does contain some of the irritating chemicals found in cigarettes, the THC might act as an anti-inflammatory that basically cancels out the irritating chemicals. No joke.
(Quick tip: It helped me to quit smoking cigarettes by rolling joints with filters so it felt like a cigarette. I smoked a shitload of weed for a few weeks though.)
This study of course counts on the impossible notion that people would tell the complete truth. I would say it’s much more likely that people would claim that they use less marijuana than they actually do. Of course this is just speculation, but I know I’ve lied to medical professionals about many things simply because I was irrationally intimidated or scared that they might scold me. It’s not good, but people do it.
This study also only took smoking joints into account. It didn’t take smoking out of a water pipe, which eliminates toxins, and it most certainly didn’t take vaporizing, which eliminates virtually all toxins, into account.
Personally, I am going to shove these findings in the faces of more than a couple people I know that have been so conditioned by society to believe that marijuana is a terrible drug that they are ignorant to the facts that it’s really not that harmful. It’s just kind of getting to be like, “Damn, weed, are you seriously that awesome?”
But I also don’t want to be a cheerleader for marijuana while being ignorant to the facts as well. I get so tired of hearing people talk about marijuana like there are no negative side effects; that’s just silly. The most harmful aspect of marijuana is that it tends to make people lazy and, as "South Park" so accurately put it, “It can make you okay with being bored.” And don’t be fooled by people that say marijuana isn’t addicting. They are only referring to physical addiction, as in the case of heroin withdrawals. Most addiction is physiological and I have known several people that are addicted to marijuana. People are addicted to all sorts of behaviors and other things that aren’t physically addicting. But I think it depends on the person. If anything becomes an obsession or starts to cause more harm than the amount of pleasure it gives, then that is an addiction and you should stop. But this is the exception with marijuana as opposed to the norm, which can't be said for with cigarettes. This is why I love marijuana so much. I don’t want to sound cliché and say, “Enjoy responsibly.” I think I’ll just say, “Make sure you’re enjoying life as much as possible. And to do that, you need to consider the next step while still savoring the present.” To me, that’s what life, and the weed lover’s lifestyle, is all about.