Marijuana: As hard on the lungs as cigarettes?

So I’ve got this CRAZY friend that we’ll call cramer. So, Crazy Cramer has this notion that marijuana is as bad, if not worse, on your lungs as smoking one cigarette. He actually said, “From my sources, I heard that smoking one joint is as bad as smoking 20 cigarettes, on your lungs that is.”

Personally, I think he’s mildly retarded. But thats just me.

But am I being prejudgemental to his case? Can anyone in this community find any evidence that supports his claim? Or, even evidence that refuits it? I’d gladly apologize to my friend, if I thought he was wrong.

The head of the American Lung Association states that there is “50-70 percent more carcinogenic material in marijuana smoke than in tobacco smoke”. However, the risk of certain cancers, such as lung, due to this, don’t appear to rise.

People smoke pot very differently from how they smoke cigarettes. People inhale deeply and hold the smoke in with joints I have not seen people do this with cigarettes. So it is very easy for me to beleive that a joint is worse than a cigarette. On the other hand very few people have a twenty or more a day joint habbit but a pack a day cig habbit is not uncommon. So I could see a cigarette habit as being more detrimental to the lungs than a pot habbit.

Have you ever smoked pot?

I smoke cigarettes pretty frequently, and pot occasionally. In my experience, at least, pot is far more irritating than my usual Marlboros. I can feel my lungs getting irritated from it, and way more than from cigarettes. The above point about how much of each people smoke are valid; recreational, occasional pot smokers probably don’t suffer lung problems all that often compared to tobacco users, since most tobacco smokers indulge their habit several times a day. But if you smoke a lot of pot, is there any doubt that it’s doing something bad to your respiratory system?

Are we talking filtered or unfiltered cigarettes here?

Which, I should point out, is pretty damn silly. Holding it in for as long as can is just going to give the particulate matter more time to deposit on your lungs; the ‘good stuff,’ so to speak, is taken into the bloodstream pretty much instantly.

I hate to ask for a cite on anything to do with recreational drugs because I don’t think that there is much out there that is not grossly tainted with someones agenda. But what is the mechanism that leads you to believe that holding the smoke in does not allow for greater absorption of THC?

It seems holding it in longer does make a difference.

That is the difference I would think.

To really compare the effects (or the feeling on your lungs), try ripping the filter off your marb, kinda harsh eh. Now try empting all the tobacco out of a cigarette and filling it with marijuana and smoking it with the filter on. You’ll hardly be able to tell it’s lit, it’ll be like a marb red smoker trying an ultra light.

If you’re gonna compare, compare apples to apples not apples to golfballs. Of course this is far from scientific and I’m not advocating the usage of pot.

Very true and probably the most common misconception about smoking pot there is. Believe me, I’ve tried many techniques over the years and I find you really don’t need to go through the hold-it-in hysterics most people seem to practice.

That’s very interesting but in direct conflict with my personal experience. One thing to consider is that by holding your breath you deprive your body of oxygen which can produce its own kind of high. I think that’s what happens, people mistake the lack of oxygen for a pot high.

I read this book a few years ago. The author cited some studies (or maybe just one) that found that holding it longer had no effect on several measures related to drug effect. I remember being surprised by those results. I don’t have the book handy, and I don’t recall the details of the study.

Good book though. Leslie Iversen, The Science of Marijuana (2000)

That’s very nice that you have your own theory. Can you come up with your own data to back it up?

Dude, he’s the Bongmaster!

Those that are smoking medicinal MJ (for things such as glaucoma) are advised to smoke it the same way they would smoke a cigarette.

Now, I suppose I’m making a leap here, but if your Dr. perscribes you a medication for an illness, it doesn’t seem unreasonable that they would suggest you use it in the most effective way possible.

Holding the smoking in your lungs is not required to improve glaucoma, and it’s the THC that is the working ingredient.

What are you talking about? No doctor treats glaucoma with marijuana. Marijuana is hardly effective at all in treating glaucoma. There were some studies that indicated some improvement in the condition, but it has never become an accepted treatment, because it simply doesn’t work well.

Drat, I’ve been called. I’ll admit to it being hearsay, although hearsay from a medical professional (a nurse).

Looking around for cites now, I find the two that’ve already been mentioned in favour of breath-holding having an effect, and this one against it. Also a forum where someone mentions that “studies have shown that around 90% of the cannabinoids are absorbed in the first few seconds.” No cite for those studies.

So I’ll say that the jury is perhaps still out.

Well, they do in Canada. At least for pilot studies:

Further - the government actually funds the studies.

Anyhow - I’m not discussing the effacacy. However, more than one person in Canada has been perscribed MJ for the treatment of glaucoma, even if it was only in a study. The participants in such studies were advised to smoke the MJ in the same way as they would a cigarette.

So. There you go.

Think about it, when you smoke a joint there is no filter. What does a filter do?

I know someone who has a medical marijuana card who told me it was for glaucoma, but maybe he was lying, or I misunderstood. I guess that makes it hearsay.