Research is showing that secondhand smoke from marijuana could be harmful to people's health. It is suggesting that marijuana smoke may have to be just as regulated as tobacco smoke.
No matter where it comes from, the research suggests that smoke can have negative health effects on human beings.
Secondhand Marijuana Smoke
Marijuana is now legal in some form in more than 20 states in the U.S., but scientists are studying some of the negative health effects of the drug. A paper from 2016 challenges the notion that secondhand marijuana has no effect on people's health. To gather data for the study, scientists couldn't test marijuana on humans, instead, researchers relied on rats.
Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, so scientists had to follow federal laws to obtain the marijuana for research purposes. To conduct trials, the team would put a cigarette or joint in a plexiglass box, and then expose an anesthetized rat to the smoke.
After trials with rats, researchers observed that secondhand smoke stops the rats' arteries from expanding properly. Tobacco smoke impeded this process for about 30 minutes after which the arteries returned to normal blood flow. Marijuana smoke impeded the arteries for about 90 minutes before they recovered to normal function.
Repeated contraction of the arteries can permanently damage arterial walls. This damage can cause blood clots, a heart attack, or a stroke.
Researchers are working to find out more about the negative effects of marijuana, including the association between smoking marijuana and cancer. Matthew Springer, a biologist on the study regarding secondhand marijuana use, urges people who may look towards vapes after reading his paper.
Springer warns that vaping can have its own negative health effects. Even though they don't release smoke, they do release a cloud of aerosolized chemicals. He is also studying the effects of those chemicals on humans.
More research needs to be done on the effects of marijuana for people to have a clearer picture of what it can do to the human body. Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning that the government says it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. Using marijuana for research purposes comes with strict guidelines by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Researchers will have to put up with strict guidelines from the DEA, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and state regulatory bodies depending on where the institution is based.