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January 11, 2012 12:05 PM   Subscribe

Light marijuana use doesn't harm lung function, study found: "Smoking a joint once a week or a bit more apparently doesn't harm the lungs, suggests a 20-year study that bolsters evidence that marijuana doesn't do the kind of damage tobacco does."
posted by flex (47 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
i love when people use "a joint" as a unit of measure. are we talking pinners? are we talking blunts? and, really, the paper is going to screw up your lungs more than the weed - put that stuff in a bong, or better yet, a vaporizer.

many years ago i realized that with my asthma i had to choose if i was a pot smoker or a cigarette smoker. looks like i chose correctly.
posted by nadawi at 12:11 PM on January 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


so...what if you smoke more than once a week? I'm asking for... a friend

there weren't enough heavy users among the 5,000 young adults in the study to draw firm conclusions.

So I have these friends...
posted by Hoopo at 12:11 PM on January 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


The findings echo results in some smaller studies that showed while marijuana contains some of the same toxic chemicals as tobacco, it does not carry the same risks for lung disease.

It's not clear why that is so...

....

On average, cigarette users smoked about 9 cigarettes daily, while average marijuana use was only a joint or two a few times a month - typical for U.S. marijuana users, Kertesz said


I didn't peer review the article, but I'm pretty sure I found your answer.
posted by Muddler at 12:12 PM on January 11, 2012 [15 favorites]


i love when people use "a joint" as a unit of measure

Seriously. I mean, *cough* I have had friends who may or may not have constructed a 'joint' that required two packages of Zig-Zags to construct; the end product was held in a microphone stand. It didn't move -- you did.

I'm going to assume they mean a 1/4 gram "cracker".
posted by Dark Messiah at 12:13 PM on January 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


It didn't move -- you did

hah - maybe at first, but then...less... and then.... perfect immobility, except for the occasional hand movement between the remote and the jumbo bag of licorice allsorts.
posted by CynicalKnight at 12:16 PM on January 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


So as an eater of the weed, I'm even more good!
posted by Liquidwolf at 12:16 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


so...what if you smoke more than once a week? I'm asking for... a friend

From the article: "Smoking marijuana as often as one joint daily for seven years, or one joint weekly for 20 years was not linked with worse scores".

I'm not at all surprised at this result. Marijuana smoking is really a different thing -- even daily users don't smoke nearly as much as your typical cigarette smoker. In my experience daily users also tend to gravitate toward less harsh (and more effective) methods of consumption, like bongs and vaporizers.
posted by vorfeed at 12:17 PM on January 11, 2012


It's like Rick Santorum always says, "Marijuana destroys families, not lungs."
posted by Houyhnhnm at 12:17 PM on January 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking weed.
posted by iotic at 12:22 PM on January 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


>i love when people use "a joint" as a unit of measure.

Authors of studies like these--perhaps realizing that part of their audience are sitting in Federal government offices--seem to live in a perpetual, 1960s, lava-lamp illuminated haze, in which joints (or "marijuana cigarettes") are the primary mode of consumption, the multi-billion dollar glass pipe industry has yet to exist, and vaporizers are hot knives held over an open flame on a stove.
posted by Gordion Knott at 12:30 PM on January 11, 2012 [22 favorites]


I like their expression of time in joint-years. if you're smoking a joint per day of California-grade weed every day for a year, I'd be more worried about being able to remember where I lived. I mean, once I managed to molecularly separate myself from the couch.

I went through a time in my life where I was considerably stoned every single day and working, and I still don't think I'd hit that level.

I will also say that unless you're using some big glassware, a joint is an easy way to get consistently big and smooth hits while being very portable.

as far as the article.. ask anyone who has ever smoked cigarettes and marijuana. even better, ask someone who quit cigarettes years ago but still smokes marijuana. if I even take one drag of tobacco, I'm wheezing and coughing. I've never experienced that with any form of marijuana consumption.

but it's good to see official research on the subject. I welcome more of this.
posted by ninjew at 12:39 PM on January 11, 2012


Any comparison against tobacco is baseless in this study, as the didn't have a control group smoking 1 cigarette per week for comparison.

If marijuana smokers consumed a pack of joints a week (or day, or half-day), I'm sure we'd see similar or worse effects (assuming filtered cigarettes vs unfiltered joints).

So the proper conclusion is "smoking 1 joint a week had little measurable impact on lung capacity." That's it.
posted by jpeacock at 12:40 PM on January 11, 2012


I'm not sure if I have access to JAMA through my university or not (might have to check later), but the abstract mentions tobacco smokers in a control group. So I'm not sure it's fair to dismiss the comparison, unless you're getting something from the abstract that I'm not (and what I'm getting is that the abstract is too vague about what constituted the control group).
posted by asciident at 12:49 PM on January 11, 2012


(Also, jpeacock, your conclusion is their conclusion.)
posted by asciident at 12:50 PM on January 11, 2012


Entirely anecdotal - but as a (struggling to quit) tobacco smoker - if I don't smoke cannabis the cigarette smoking effects my lung capacity and general respiratory health in a much more noticeable and acute way.

Something about cannabis has a very deep and effect expectorant effect and seems to help keep my lungs more clear as opposed to less with just tobacco alone.

This is entirely counter-intuitive, but it seems to be true that moderate cannabis use may actually have a protective and healthy effect. I don't have links handy but there's also been some recent studies about how cannabis may actually prevent cancer.

I've also met cannabis smokers that are now in their 60s and 70s. They're very active people and have no respiratory problems like you'd find in a tobacco smoker in the same age range.

And it doesn't seem to be entirely the result that cannabis smokers tend to smoke less, as there are extremely heavy cannabis smokers out there that don't even bat an eye at smoking 10 large, high grade joints a day. I knew a legitimate medical cannabis patient with MS that smoked like that. (If I smoked like that I'd revert to a primordial ooze.)
posted by loquacious at 12:51 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Any comparison against tobacco is baseless in this study, as the didn't have a control group smoking 1 cigarette per week for comparison.

Say, what!?

They are comparing typical consumption patterns of one drug with typical patterns of another drug.

If you for example wanted to compare the effects of beer and whiskey drinking, you wouldn't require the whiskey drinkers to consume the same volume as the beer drinkers!

The question is not, "If one smokes as much pot as cigarette smokers smoke tobacco, would one get the same negative health effects?" Who cares about that? I'm a pretty heavy pot smoker, but even light cigarette smokers smoke more tobacco than I do pot.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:55 PM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


People really need to understand that many of us who choose to indulge in seriously pleasant but harmful things such as drinking, smoking and taking drugs have decided we care more about the pleasure than we do about the harm. We've weighed it up and made our decision. The fact that you might have weighed it up and come to a different decision doesn't make either of us wrong. Just different. Do I drink red wine every day because some studies suggest it might have health benefits? No. I drink it because it makes me happy and makes the end of a tough day pleasant. I'd still do it of all the latest media bullshit - oh sorry, I meant science - said that even one glass of red a day would take ten years off my life.

I had a point in here somewhere. I seem to have mislaid it. Possibly because I'm drinking red wine.
posted by Decani at 1:01 PM on January 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


i love when people use "a joint" as a unit of measure. -- It would be more helpful if they measured the quantity in bong hits.
posted by crunchland at 1:10 PM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


"one quantity of dank ass nug"
posted by naju at 1:13 PM on January 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


they could measure the weight.
posted by nadawi at 1:15 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I imagine that smoking one cigarette per week causes little or no long term damage either.
posted by Postroad at 1:27 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can i get the equivalent amount in: 2-liter soda gravity bong hits using 1/4 inch socket as a bowl, thanks.
posted by ofthestrait at 1:33 PM on January 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


THE REEFER BUTT IS CALLED A "ROACH," BECAUSE IT RESEMBLES A COCKROACH... COCKROACH... COCKROACH...

What the fuck are these people talking about? You'd have to be crazy on acid to think a joint looked like a goddamn cockroach!
posted by porn in the woods at 1:50 PM on January 11, 2012 [5 favorites]




And the NY Times' take on the study.
posted by gingerbeer at 2:29 PM on January 11, 2012


For those worried about lung damage, I think harm reduction (using edibles, vaporizers, water filtration, etc) is a great way to minimize the danger, such as it is. As is smoking better weed -- this study on joints vs waterpipes and vaporizers came to the somewhat-surprising conclusion that "[...] the easiest way for most smokers to avoid harmful smoke toxins may be simply to smoke stronger marijuana. This strategy is apt to be more effective than any smoke filtration device." [emphasis mine]

This study also found that unfiltered joints actually give you a cleaner THC/tar ratio than waterpipes, but I suspect that this has a lot to do with the THC content of the marijuana they used (the marijuana the government provides to these studies is notoriously weak, at 2.3% THC rather than the 10+% you'll get with good bud). A higher THC content would allow some of the THC to be absorbed by the water along with the tars, without crashing the THC/tar ratio. More recent studies have found that water-filtration does cut down on harmful particulates, and that bongs with diffuser features should do even better.
posted by vorfeed at 3:38 PM on January 11, 2012


Gordion Knott: ">i love when people use "a joint" as a unit of measure.

Authors of studies like these--perhaps realizing that part of their audience are sitting in Federal government offices--seem to live in a perpetual, 1960s, lava-lamp illuminated haze, in which joints (or "marijuana cigarettes") ...
"

That's "MariHuana Cigarettes"
posted by symbioid at 3:40 PM on January 11, 2012


simply to smoke stronger marijuana. -- Unless the weed is so strong, it knocks you out cold after a single puff, you will always smoke more than it takes to get you stoned. Because, you know, you're too stoned to know how stoned you are.
posted by crunchland at 3:43 PM on January 11, 2012


but what if you smoke two joints, before you smoke two joints, and then you smoke two more? what are the health effects of doing that?
posted by cupcake1337 at 4:04 PM on January 11, 2012 [16 favorites]


i think you learn that hard work good and hard work fine, but first take care of head.
posted by nadawi at 4:06 PM on January 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Until they know how many hits it takes to get to the center of a joint I won't be satisfied.
posted by MattMangels at 4:14 PM on January 11, 2012


I've struggled with smoking cigarrettes, but when I smoke pot, that struggle disappears.

I smoked pot regularly for several years, and didn't smoke cigs at all during that time, nor did I drink more than one or two beers a month. And I functioned at work at a high level.

But when I stopped smoking pot after my wife and I had a child, almost immediately my cigarrette cravings came back and I started smoking again and drinking much more often.

When my child gets a little older I'm going to start smoking pot again for sure. I hope it's legal by then.

In the meantime I'm going to continue to struggle with quitting cigarrettes. The drug laws in this country really tweak my rectum!
posted by JKevinKing at 4:19 PM on January 11, 2012


A higher THC content would allow some of the THC to be absorbed by the water along with the tars, without crashing the THC/tar ratio.

No, THC is not water-soluable. It will dissolve in alcohol or oil, but not water. In the smoke, the different chemicals aren't bound with each other, so the heavier tars are filtered out by the water (I believe through cooling mechanisms rather than actual dissolution), while the THC continues through because it's lighter.

I could also be full of shit, but the one thing I know I'm not full of shit about is that THC is not water-soluable.
posted by hippybear at 4:22 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


crunchland: you will always smoke more than it takes to get you stoned. Because, you know, you're too stoned to know how stoned you are.

"Remember, kids, don't smoke dope...when you're stoned. You won't get any higher, just lower on dope." -- George Carlin
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:31 PM on January 11, 2012


I've also met cannabis smokers that are now in their 60s and 70s. They're very active people and have no respiratory problems like you'd find in a tobacco smoker in the same age range.

Anecdata is great. I used to know a 101 year old lady who had smoked 10 cigarettes a day for over 60 years. She had no respiratory difficulties, did not develop lung cancer and died peacefully in her sleep. She didn't believe smoking had any negative health effects...
posted by knapah at 5:22 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


luckily, we don't have to rely on anecdata - studies spanning decades keep saying the same thing - smoking weed is less harmful and addictive than cigarettes and alcohol. the largest danger in smoking weed is the law.
posted by nadawi at 5:32 PM on January 11, 2012


I could also be full of shit, but the one thing I know I'm not full of shit about is that THC is not water-soluable.

Sorry, that's my error in phrasing -- the study's claim is not that THC itself is water-soluble, it's that it sticks to things ("hence, any filtration system that picks up particulates is likely also to screen out cannabinoids.")
posted by vorfeed at 5:36 PM on January 11, 2012


KNOW YOUR DOPE FIEND. YOUR LIFE MAY DEPEND ON IT!

You will not be able to see his eyes because of the Tea-Shades, but his knuckles will be white from inner tension and his pants will be crusted with semen from constantly jacking off when he can't find a rape victim. He will stagger and babble when questioned. He will not respect your badge. The Dope Fiend fears nothing. He will attack, for no reason, with every weapon at his command-including yours. BEWARE. Any officer apprehending a suspected marijuana addict should use all necessary force immediately. One stitch in time (on him) will usually save nine on you. Good luck.

-The Chief

posted by porn in the woods at 6:29 PM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


A form of tattoo called "Blue Star" is being sold to school children. It is a small sheet of white paper containing blue stars the size of a pencil eraser. Each star (whoa, sorry, whoops, got the wrong thread)
posted by porn in the woods at 6:31 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


"hence, any filtration system that picks up particulates is likely also to screen out cannabinoids."

Strange. By passing the raw vapours through cool water, the water kind of acts like a screen - the heavier longer-chain tars and such condense into a liquid at a much lower temperature than the cannabinoids; the water physically filters the condensed stuff from the still vapourous stuff which collectes in the smoke collection chamber.
posted by porpoise at 6:54 PM on January 11, 2012


I have known many major potheads.

Nary a one of them could ever dream of smoking the marijuana equivalent of two packs a day, nonstop, for years and years. And they certainly couldn't afford to do so, even if it were humanly possible.

That's the difference.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:15 PM on January 11, 2012


::snk::
::snk::
::SNK::
::whooooooooosh::
Wut?
posted by Splunge at 6:02 AM on January 12, 2012


In comparing it to cigarettes, then no, marijuana isn't that harmful. But to me, anything foreign in the body can't be good for it.

Unless it contains batteries. Then by all means do it.
posted by stormpooper at 7:09 AM on January 12, 2012


But to me, anything foreign in the body can't be good for it.

Everything you ingest is foreign. All medicine is foreign. Air is foreign.
posted by coolguymichael at 9:23 AM on January 12, 2012


I just wasted a post on a double and I am not even stoned.... yet,

The more studies the better. Even if the results are not necessarily what I'd like to see, I do want to understand the effects on the body.

Then again, thousands of years of human consumption with little to no discernible damage leads me to believe cannabis is safe. So has about 6 years of so of nearly daily usage.

The better the bud, the less I need to begin with.
posted by handbanana at 9:27 AM on January 12, 2012


But to me, anything foreign in the body can't be good for it.

Xenophobe!
posted by Sys Rq at 10:21 AM on January 12, 2012


In comparing it to cigarettes, then no, marijuana isn't that harmful. But to me, anything foreign in the body can't be good for it.

We have evidence that people have been using cannabis for its psychoactive properties since at least the 3rd millennium BCE, which makes its use only a few millennia more recent than the use of beer and wine. Historically speaking, marijuana is considerably less foreign to humanity than distilled spirits, yogurt, or non-sourdough bread, much less the vast majority of the processed foods we eat today.
posted by vorfeed at 10:37 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


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