Despite the growing legalization of marijuana across various states, with 33 allowing medical use and 11 for recreational, questions linger about its safety and potential health risks. Harvard Health and other reputable sources have highlighted key aspects that users and the public should be aware of.
Harvard Health advises against smoking cannabis due to the potential for lung inflammation. Instead, safer alternatives such as under-the-tongue tinctures, edibles, topical products, or dry herb vaporizers are recommended. For those who choose to smoke, it’s crucial not to hold the smoke in the lungs for more than a few seconds as this does not enhance the effect but rather increases lung irritation.
The impact of secondhand marijuana smoke, especially on children, is a significant concern. Just like tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke lingers and contains many harmful chemicals, including higher levels of certain toxins like cyanide and ammonia compared to cigarette smoke. The advice is clear: do not smoke around children and take measures to prevent smoke exposure in shared spaces like homes or cars.
The long-term health risks associated with marijuana use, even at moderate levels, are still under scrutiny. After smoking, THC metabolites can remain in the body for days or longer, particularly in heavy users. This build-up in fatty tissues raises concerns about potential long-term health effects.
Marijuana smoke contains carcinogens similar to those in tobacco smoke, and in some cases, in higher concentrations. This similarity extends to its potential health risks, including heart and lung issues. The notion that marijuana is completely safe is therefore questionable, especially considering these potential risks.
However, it’s essential to balance this with an understanding that cannabis also has recognized medical uses and can provide relief for various conditions. Harvard Health provides guidance on common questions about medical cannabis, emphasizing the importance of informed and cautious use.
Harvard Staff Writer
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