Cough it up for Cannabis

By Melissa Martin

Move over lung cancer from secondhand tobacco smoke, there’s a new kid in town—legalized marijuana. Cough it up for Cannabis. Pretend that pot smoke is pure. Like tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke is an irritant to the throat and lungs and can cause a heavy cough during use. But what about secondhand smoke from weed?

Who believes secondhand marijuana smoke is a health risk? Members of the American Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) Foundation—that’s who.

ANR is an educational nonprofit organization, which creates comprehensive programs to prevent the harmful effects of secondhand smoke and smoking among youth and adults. The organization has more than 35 years’ experience promoting prevention and education about smoking, secondhand smoke, and exposing tobacco industry interference with public health policies.

Peer-reviewed and published studies indicate that exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke may have health and safety risks for the general public, especially due to its similar composition to secondhand tobacco smoke. That’s according to ANR.

Secondhand marijuana smoke: is a complex chemical mixture of smoke emitted from combusted marijuana and the smoke that is exhaled by the user; contains fine particulate matter that can be breathed deeply into the lungs; contains many of the same cancer-causing substances and toxic chemicals as secondhand tobacco smoke.

Some of the known carcinogens or toxins present in marijuana smoke include: acetaldehyde, ammonia arsenic, benzene, cadmium, chromium, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, isoprene, lead, mercury, nickel, and quinoline.

“As of January, 2020, 667 localities and 27 states/territories/commonwealths restrict marijuana use in some or all smokefree spaces…Marijuana smoke is a form of indoor air pollution. Therefore, ANR, our lobbying organization, includes marijuana within the definition of smoking, and all of our model laws and policies include a prohibition on smoking marijuana wherever smoking of tobacco products is not allowed. Our organization does not have a position on whether marijuana should be legalized; we are committed to smokefree protections from secondhand smoke from tobacco products, marijuana and aerosol from electronic smoking devices.”

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the known health risks of secondhand exposure to cigarette smoke—to the heart or lungs, for instance—raise questions about whether secondhand exposure to marijuana smoke poses similar health risks. More research is needed and no doubt, studies will ensue now that Cannabis is legal in many states.

“Just one minute of exposure to secondhand smoke from marijuana diminishes blood-vessel function in rats to the same extent as exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke. Furthermore, the harmful cardiovascular effects of marijuana smoke last considerably longer – more than 90 minutes, compared to less than 30 in the case of tobacco smoke,” according to Matthew Springer, Ph.D., the senior author of a 2016 study on the subject in the Journal of the American Heart

Read a 2018 study designed to evaluate secondhand marijuana smoke exposure among children in the December issue of Pediatrics.“What we found in this study is that secondhand marijuana smoke does get into the lungs and little bodies of young children,” says Karen Wilson, MD.

Secondhand marijuana smoke appears to have provoked a cannabis allergy and worsened the asthma of a 6-year-old child, researchers told the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology’s annual conference in 2018. They recommend that doctors should consider the possibility of cannabis allergy in any child with uncontrolled asthma who is being exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke.

Well, marijuana mania mob, put this information in your pot pipe and smoke it.

By Melissa Martin

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Scioto County.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Scioto County.