From Reefer Madness to legalization, the perception of marijuana has changed drastically over the decades. With the seemingly unstoppable march toward nationwide decriminalization and legalization moving along steadily, there’s a lot of false information floating around about everyone’s favorite Mary Jane, whether you pass on grass or are a seasoned smoker.
Let’s keep it real—if you’re regularly ripping gravity bongs and smoking more blunts than Snoop Dogg, you’re probably not doing your lungs any favors.
First and foremost, the act of putting any kind of smoke in one’s lungs is going to be unhealthy. The belief that heavily smoking marijuana isn’t damaging your lungs, to some degree, is just plain silly. That’s not to say, however, that all smoke is created equal, and many studies have concluded that tobacco is far more harmful to one’s organs than weed. According to Robert Melamede’s article “Cannabis and tobacco smoke are not equally carcinogenic,” published in the Harm Reduction Journal, cannabis smoke hurts lung function and may knock lung cells into a pre-cancerous state, even if it lacks the direct causal link to cancers offered by tobacco. Marijuana, while presumably not as bad as tobacco, is still bad, as “the burning of plant material in the form of cigarettes generates a large variety of compounds that possess numerous biological activities.” All of this means you should probably look into vaping, bro.
Furthermore, using marijuana in any form can potentially have harmful effects on one’s brain, particularly because of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the stuff that gets you high.
In the opinion of Dr. Sushrut Jangi in the Boston Globe: “Each hit of THC rewires the function of this critical cognitive system [ … ] Marijuana exploits essential pathways we’ve evolved to retrieve a memory, to delicately regulate our metabolism, and to derive happiness from everyday life.”
And here we are, thinking weed makes everyday life better! Still, the very fact that weed changes things going on in your brain—making you *cough* high *cough*—probably carries with it some risk of harming your brain’s natural wiring.
In all seriousness, it’s clear that marijuana has potentially harmful effects on one’s body and brain. But then again, so does alcohol, cigarettes, energy drinks, candy, etc.—and thinking any of these things is harmless is just plain stupid. It’s all about moderation.