Marijuana effects clouded in mystery
Health Feb 14, 2019 Joey Chini
By: Joey Chini & Brandon Burnett
Rolling up and smoking weed has permeated pop culture to the point of ubiquitousness. Everyone sings along to Nate Dogg when he hollers “smoke weed everyday” on Dr. Dre’s The Next Episode (on an album named after weed). It has become socially and culturally accepted–long before legalization hit back in October.
With the government delivering kush to households across the province, chronic is the most accessible it’s ever been. Last week we brought you tips on how to quit smoking. This week we’re looking at smoking weed as an alternative to tobacco.
When it comes to vices, smoking a joint is generally regarded as ‘less-detrimental’ to your health than drinking heavily or chaining cigarettes.
But is it really?
Unfortunately, due to the interminable prohibition of marijuana, there is a lack of research surrounding its impacts and effects on health. However, there are things we do know. According to the American Lung Association–“Whether from burning wood, tobacco or marijuana, toxins and carcinogens are released from the combustion of materials.” Smoke inhalation of any kind is harmful to the human lung. Furthermore, the website goes on to point out how different weed smokers are compared to tobacco smokers–someone smoking a joint tends to breathe deeper and hold the smoke in their lungs longer than someone puffing on a cigarette.
What we don’t know about cannabis is stunning. The implications of marijuana on mental health remains a mystery. A representative from the BC Lung Association said this in an email:
“One of the risks of tobacco use is the development of addiction, which is also a concern with cannabis use, with approximately 1 in 10 adults and 1 in 6 youth who use cannabis developing an addiction–classified in the DSM-IV as cannabis use disorder.
Fortunately, studies on addiction have become more prevalent in recent years thanks to associations like CAMH. As we learn more about weed, we find new medical applications for it–surely you’ve seen videos like this one floating around the internet. Parents of children with medical conditions such as cerebral palsy and epilepsy can treat their seizures with medicine made from cannabis. According to StatCan approximately 50% of smokers are 34 and under. This means that if people from that demographic continue to smoke throughout their lives it will be too late to properly gauge the long term effects. Only time will bring us the information we need about cannabis. Until then it’s up to the consumer to stay informed, and consume safely.