Is weed bad for you? What are the risks of smoking cannabis?
Imagine the following.
You’re in a car with a few of your friends, and you bust out a nice fat joint that you rolled only minutes ago.
Should we hotbox the car, they ask? Sure, why not.
So you all shut the windows and spark up the joint. Each of you takes a couple of tokes before you hand it to the next, a little puff-puff pass.
Then all of a sudden, mid-drag, you catch a bit too much smoke and start coughing and wheezing like you’re about to die. And it makes you wonder why are you smoking all of this weed if it makes you cough and hurts your lungs? There must be an explanation and a better way to do things.
To find out about the risks involved in smoking weed and alternative ways to enjoy it, keep reading!
The Risks of Smoking
With the internet at our disposal, you probably already know how harmful smoking cigarettes can be, let alone inhaling all of those carcinogens. Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, of which more than 70 can cause and promote cancer.
Fortunately, for most people who use marijuana recreationally, the smoke from cannabis isn’t as harmful as the smoke from cigarettes. But that doesn’t mean you should just smoke away and go guns blazing. Smoking marijuana still has its fair share of potential risks and health effects.
Cannabis smoke shares some similarities with tobacco smoke, mainly in toxins produced when you spark your joints up. When you ignite the plant material, toxins called Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHS) are produced and inhaled into the lungs. Inhaling toxins is never great for your lungs, and inhaling polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons can cause its own set of adverse health effects over time.
What Are PAHS?
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHS) are a group of chemical toxins found mainly in coal, crude oil, and gasoline. One of the main ways to release polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons into the air is by burning fossil fuels, waste, and organic material, including tobacco and weed.
The Risks of Inhaling PAHS
There isn’t much concrete evidence of any short term effects involving polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Yet, many of the effects of overconsumption of recreational and medical marijuana are involved, including:
Many of the health effects of inhaling polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons involve more prolonged exposure to the toxins. While there is no causal link that cannabis smoke can cause cancer, long-term exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons does involve an increased risk in developing a whole new onset of problems, including cancer.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons show to cause cancer in animal lab tests. Most notably, Benzo(a)pyrene is the most potent PAH to cause adverse effects in animals with an increased risk in developing skin, lung, bladder, and gastrointestinal cancers. These effects have not been typically recorded in humans, although some of the problems that occur include:
- Respiratory issues
- Kidney and liver damage
The frequency of use and strength of each dose can accelerate and increase the probability of developing these issues. All this said, should we avoid toking?
Should You Avoid Smoking Weed?
Smoking weed isn’t for everyone. It harms the lungs and can cause cancer. Fortunately, there are so many different ways you could enjoy your cannabis with both similar and different effects.
For people who enjoy the ritual of inhaling their weed along with the natural flavors and aromas of their favorite bud, vaporizers are a great alternative to smoking joints. Vaping delivers therapeutic benefits in a much less harmful way. Rather than combusting your cannabis products, it heats your cannabis inside the chamber and produces a potent and tasty vapor that gets you high in the same way your joint or blunt does.
Not to mention vaporizing your cannabis will give you the option to fine-tune the temperature of your experience, helping you get the most out of your weed.
Alternatively, edibles are a great discreet option to get high that is extremely potent. Edibles are infused with a precise, measured THC or CBD dose, so you always know how much you are consuming of each.
For example, gummies don’t go through your lungs and, therefore, do not contain any PAHS or harmful carcinogens. They are a fun way to medicate your cannabis and are a delicious alternative for those who are health-conscious about risks that usually accompany joints and blunts.
Lastly, cannabis tinctures offer another discreet option to consume cannabis. Simply put a few drops under your tongue, and you’ll be on your way!
Who Should Avoid Marijuana Use?
While it is true that certain groups of people should avoid smoking, it’s also true that certain groups of people should stay away from marijuana use altogether. Some of those groups include:
- People Under the Age of 21: Studies have shown that cannabis use during the adolescent years can affect the brain’s development. It is advised that adolescents and young adults who find themselves younger than the age of 21 should avoid consuming marijuana.
- Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women: For the sake of the child’s safety and development, the potential of adverse effects of marijuana resulting from the consumption while pregnant is not worth the risk.
- People With a Genetic History of Mental Illness: Marijuana may be linked to the onset of psychotic disorders in people who have a genetic predisposition to it, as stated in the National Institute on Drug Use. People with a family history of mental illness or psychotic disorders are advised to stay away from cannabis.
Is Weed Bad For You?
Enjoying a joint isn’t for everyone.
Some people have more sensitive lungs than others. And some could be under the age of 21 or in the stage of pregnancy when they are not advised to consume cannabis.
For others, new methods of consuming cannabis have opened up various options not to inhale the smoke. From tasty edibles to potent and fine-tuned vaporizers, there are many ways to medicate without inhaling harmful chemicals and PAHS. Both these methods don’t involve combustion and are a safer alternative to consuming weed.
All in all, figuring out whether smoking marijuana is good or bad depends on many individual factors, including health, dosage, and frequency of consumption, to name a few.