Marijuana Use Does Not Harm Lung Function

According to one of the largest and longest studies on the health effects of marijuana, smoking a joint once a week or a bit more apparently does not harm the lungs.

The 20-year study that bolsters evidence that marijuana does not the kind of damage tobacco does suggest that using marijuana that often might cause a decline in lung function, but there were not enough heavy users among the 5,000 young adults in the study to draw firm conclusions. The authors still recommended “caution and moderation when marijuana use is considered.”

The study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham was released by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Study co-author Dr. Stefan Kertesz said marijuana users unlike cigarette smokers tend to breathe in deeply when they inhale a joint, which some researchers think might strengthen lung tissue. Kertesz said cigarette users on an average smoked about 9 cigarettes daily, while the average marijuana use was only a joint or two a few times a month.

The study randomly enrolled 5,115 men and women aged 18 through 30 in four cities: Birmingham, Chicago, Oakland, California, and Minneapolis. The study authors analyzed data from participants in a 20-year federally funded health study in young adults that began in 1985. The analysis was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

More Than One Million Use Medical Marijuana In CA

Over 750,000 people in California (some two percent of the population) use medical marijuana in compliance with state law, according to estimates published by California NORML, the state affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
The figure indicates a substantial increase from previous estimates of the organization but is in line with registration rates in other comparable states that enjoy similar wide access to medical cannabis clinics and dispensaries.

In a press release, States California NORML said: “Because patients are not required to register in California, their exact number is uncertain. Under California’s medical marijuana law, … patients need only a physician’s recommendation to be legal. Just a tiny fraction of the state’s medical marijuana population is enlisted in the state’s voluntary ID card program, which issued just 12,659 cards in 2009-10. Therefore, California patient numbers must be estimated from other sources. Among the most salient are medical marijuana registries in Colorado and Montana, which report usage rates of 2.5% and 3.0%, respectively. Because California’s law is older and has more liberal inclusion criteria than other states, usage here is likely to be higher.”

It adds: “Despite this, there is no evidence that liberal access to medical marijuana has spurred overall marijuana use in California. According to U.S. SAMHSA data, the total number of users in the state, including non-medical ones, amounts to 6.7% of the population (2.5 million) within the past month, or 11.3% (4.1 million) within the past year. This places California only slightly above the national average in marijuana use (6.0% monthly and 10.4% yearly), and below several states with tougher marijuana laws. Use of marijuana by California school youth has declined since Prop. 215 passed, according to data from the Attorney General’s Survey of Student Drug Use in California. The increase in medical marijuana use therefore appears to reflect a tendency for existing users to ‘go medical,’ rather than the enlistment of new users.”

It is estimated by California NORML that the total retail value of medical marijuana consumed in California is “between $1.5 and $4.5 billion per year, assuming a market of 2% to 3% of the population, average use of 0.5 to 1 gram per day, and an average cost of $320 per ounce.”

California NORML

Marijuana & Our Brain

The effects of marijuana reach different parts of the body along with the brain, irrespective of how it is used.

Since marijuana includes hundreds of chemicals, it leads to hundreds of additional compounds when burned. When abused or used indiscriminately, marijuana use may lead to side effects such as memory and learning problems, loss of coordination, paranoia, panic attacks, problem solving difficulties, and distorted perception. It is important to note that marijuana use is not lethal when compared to alcohol. Since the initial effects of marijuana wear off on their own after an hour or two, the use of marijuana is relatively safer than of other drugs.

But, marijuana chemicals remain in the body for much longer and this may mean that marijuana may still be present in your body after four days if you had taken one milligram of THC, the primary ingredient of marijuana.

However, medicinal marijuana has been found to be great value for stopping convulsions, reducing muscle spasms, eliminating menstrual pain, stimulating appetite, and to treat health complications such as HIV, AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy. This is just one of the reasons why marijuana has been considered as the best and safest drug known to the mankind as the drug has never taken a life on its own in the history of human beings.

Medical Marijuana Discouraged By Researchers In Studies

The U.S. federal government is still finding new ways to deter popularity and usefulness of medical marijuana despite the fact that the Obama administration has offered tacit support and giving hints and doing things to promote liberal medical marijuana laws. However, the Federal government is ignoring and delaying the legalizing process to make marijuana available for research.

This can be evident from the fact Lyle E. Craker, a professor of plant sciences at the University of Massachusetts, applied nearly nine years ago to get permission from federal authorities and the Drug Enforcement Administration has refused permission. The worst part is that this was after the agency’s own administrative law judge ruled in 2007 that the application of Dr. Cracker should be approved.

The fact that the federal government is trying every way is also evident from the comments made by a spokesman for National Institute on Drug Abuse. Shirley Simson said, “As the National Institute on Drug Abuse, our focus is primarily on the negative consequences of marijuana use,” and added, “We generally do not fund research focused on the potential beneficial medical effects of marijuana.

It is worth noting that marijuana is the only major drug for which the federal government controls the only legal research supply, for which the government needs a special scientific review.

Studies in the last few decades, especially the last few years, have shown that marijuana may improve appetite and relieve nausea among cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. The drug also has the potential to alleviate the numbness and aching that are experienced by HIV and AIDS patients. Dr. Igor Grant, director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego recently said that there are strong hints that the drug can ameliorate some of the neurological problems associated with degenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis.

Marijuana Smoke Healthier Than Tobacco

According to the finding of a recent study published in the January 11, 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, moderate levels of marijuana smoking does not harm the human lungs, but actually enhances lung capacity and airflow rates.

A large national database was analyzed by the research team for comparing the lung function of tobacco and marijuana smokers over an extended period of time. It was found by the researchers that while smoking marijuana increases lung volume, smoking cigarettes or getting exposed through second-hand smoke decreases lung volume.

Stefan Kertesz, M.D., a senior author of the study and associate professor in the UAB Division of Preventive Medicine, stated: “Occasional marijuana use was associated with increases in lung air flow rates and increases in lung capacity. Those increases were not large, but they were statistically significant. And the data showed that even up to moderately high-use levels — one joint a day for seven years — there is no evidence of decreased air-flow rates or lung volumes.”

Kertesz, however, warned against the use of marijuana smoke as a means for improving health of the lungs and said, “It’s not enough of an increase that would make you feel better. Healthy adults can blow out 3 to 4 liters of air in one second. The amount of gain, on average, from marijuana is small, 50 ccs or roughly a fifth of a can of coke. So it’s not something that would be noticeable.”

This study reviewed data acquired by the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study (CARDIA) that recruited more than 5,000 subjects, black and white, male and female, from Chicago, Birmingham, Oakland, and Minneapolis. The study analyzed participants’ health factors over the course of twenty years, starting in 1985 when they were ages 18-30.

Dr. Mark Pletcher, lead author of the study and associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, noted “In some ways, marijuana smoking is really a lot like doing a pulmonary function test.”
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Marijuana On The Rise, As Alcohol Takes A Plunge

Results from the latest teen survey from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) have revealed that while fewer teenagers are turning to alcohol and cigarettes than before, the use of marijuana is on an increase among teenagers of America.

Findings of the study were based on a survey of 47,000 eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan on behalf of the NIDA. The study disclosed that one out of every fifteen high school seniors used pot on a daily or near-daily basis, which is the highest rate of marijuana use since 1981. It was also disclosed that marijuana is not seen by many teenagers as a “great risk” drug.

Survey author Dr. Lloyd Johnston, a distinguished senior research scientist at the University of Michigan, said the fact that marijuana is not seen as a danger drug by teenagers explain why marijuana use is rising right now.

Compared to nearly 32 percent in the 2007 survey, the survey found more than 36 percent of 12th-graders used marijuana in the past year, and nearly 29 percent of 10th-graders and 12.5 percent of eighth-graders used marijuana in the past year.

Marijuana Use In American High Schools

According to the results of a study, approximately 40 percent of high school students have experimented with marijuana. The study also suggested that teenagers participating in sports or other extracurricular activities are less likely to use marijuana.

Findings of the study were based on a survey of 4,097 Connecticut students in the ninth through 12th grades. The survey included 1,906 boys and 2,191 girls and provides a glimpse into the recreational life of a high school student.

It was revealed by the survey that while about 40 percent of girls and boys had ever tried marijuana, regular use was also common. About one in five girls and slightly more than one in four boys reported having used marijuana in the past month, according to the study that was published in The Journal of Addiction Medicine. The most likely users of marijuana were students in the 11th and 12th grades and teenagers who had average grades in the B to C range or lower.

The study also revealed that teenagers in single-parent households were more likely to report marijuana use compared to those in two-parent homes. Students who were working outside of school were more likely to have used marijuana than those who were unemployed, the study further revealed. It was also disclosed by the study that Caucasian girls in the study were at highest risk for use while African-American male students were most likely to have used marijuana, compared to those of other races.

“There is considerable evidence that it’s not just an innocent sort of thing,” said the lead author, Ty S. Schepis, assistant professor of psychology at Texas State University in San Marcos. “This is a period of strong change in the brain. We’re very concerned that marijuana alters the ways in which adolescent brains normally mature, particularly among heavy users.”

Study Finds Australians To Smoke The Most Marijuana In The World

A recently published study in The Lancet, a British medical journal, has revealed the possible reason of the secret behind the laid-back lifestyle of the Australian population by revealing that Australians consume more marijuana than any other people on the planet.

The study disclosed that Australia and its neighbor, New Zealand, topped the global lists for consumption of both marijuana (cannabis) and amphetamines. This study was an analysis of global trends in illegal drugs and their effects on public health and also revealed by the study that marijuana was the most widely consumed illicit drug of the world with nearly 125 million to 203 million people using it annually.

It was reported by study’s co-authors, Professors Louisa Degenhardt of the University of New South Wales and Wayne Hall of the University of Queensland that as much as 15 percent of the population of the two countries between the ages of 15 and 64 had used some form of marijuana in 2009. The Asian population demonstrated the lowest global patters of marijuana use at no more than 2.5 percent, while the figures from Americas were at 7 percent, and from North America was nearly 11 percent.

Wayne Hall remarked that consumption of intoxicants being at the center of social life and ubiquities of marijuana in the two countries were the primary reasons why Australia and New Zealand topped the global lists.

Casual Smoking Does Not Do Human Body Harm

According to a recently concluded study, smoking marijuana (cannabis) on an occasional basis is not associated with significant damage to the lungs.
The paper, which appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, adds to some research in the past that failed to find a link between low or moderate exposure to smoke of marijuana and lung damage.

Mark Pletcher at UC San Francisco led the researchers and studied 5,115 men and women in four cities of the United States of America. The present and lifetime exposure to tobacco and marijuana smoke and their lung function was analyzed by the researchers. Marijuana smoke’s exposure was expressed by joint years, with smoking 365 joints or filled pipe bowls being equal to one “joint year.”

It was revealed in the study that there was a decline in lung function with increased exposure to tobacco smoke but the same pattern was not experienced with marijuana smoke. It was further disclosed that there was no proof of damage to lung function with seven joint years.

The study findings reassured people that advantages of medical marijuana would not be offset by lung damage, according to the researchers, who also said this study didn’t evaluated the effects of heavy marijuana smoking on the lungs.

“Our findings suggest that occasional use of marijuana for [medical] purposes may not be associated with adverse consequences on pulmonary function,” Pletcher said in a news release. “On the other hand, our findings do suggest an accelerated decline in pulmonary function with heavier use — either very frequent use or frequent use over many years — and a resulting need for caution and moderation when marijuana use is considered.”

Cannabis Smoke Exposure Not Associated With Adverse Effects On Pulmonary Function

According to recently published clinical trial data in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), exposure to moderate levels of cannabis smoke, even over the long-term, is not associated with adverse effects on pulmonary function.

The association between marijuana exposure and pulmonary function was analyzed by investigators at the University of California, San Francisco over a 20-year period in a cohort of 5,115 men and women in four US cities.

Researchers “confirmed the expected reductions in FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in the first second of expiration) and FVC (forced vital capacity)” in tobacco smokers. By contrast, “Marijuana use was associated with higher FEV1 and FVC at the low levels of exposure typical for most marijuana users. With up to 7 joint-years of lifetime exposure (e.g., 1 joint/d for 7 years or 1 joint/wk for 49 years), we found no evidence that increasing exposure to marijuana adversely affects pulmonary function.”

They conclude, “Our findings suggest that occasional use of marijuana … may not be associated with adverse consequences on pulmonary function.”

Results of the study are consistent with previous findings that reported no significant decrease in pulmonary function associated with moderate cannabis smoke exposure.
“We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use,” the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Donald Tashkin of the University of California at Los Angeles stated. Tashkin said he, however, did not found any association at all and even suggested of some protective effect among marijuana smokers who had lower incidences of cancer compared to non-users.

Association between marijuana exposure and pulmonary function over 20 years-Journal of the American Medical Association