When used as prescribed, cannabis can be beneficial for a huge range of medical conditions. However, smoking cannabis can cause a lot of harm.
The legalization of medicinal cannabis NZ is helping thousands of Kiwis to access life-changing healthcare, and it could be damaging your lungs.
Smoking Weed is Illegal
The use of CBD and THC in certain forms for a range of medical conditions have been legalised in NZ. This means your doctor can prescribe these to you in order to improve certain aspects of your health.
Smoking a Joint Will Not Treat Your Health Concerns
Smoking cannabis in its plant form is not ideal. There are two reasons for this.
The first reason is that when a doctor prescribes you CBD and/ or THC, it’s in a controlled way that’s backed by science. The potency of the medication is strictly controlled, as is the blend. You may be prescribed CBD or THC or a combination of them both depending on the issues.
The cannabis plant has both CBD and THC, with no way of knowing the composition or strength of the cannabinoids. While we know that THC and CBD work together to resolve some problems, this is not the case for all treatments. We know that THC can harm some people who are predisposed to mental illness, and sometimes CBD is more effective on its own.
Secondly, cannabis is prescribed to take in certain forms. This is for various reasons- patches for people who want physical relief in a certain area, sublingual drops for those wanting fast and efficient relief.
So, if you’re simply smoking the cannabis plant, you are not getting the full therapeutic effects and could be unknowingly causing harm.
Smoke + Lungs = Bad
Whatever type of smoke it is, it’s not great for the health of your lungs. Whether it’s tobacco, woodfire smoke, or pot, it’s carcinogenic.
But, I hear you say, what about a joint, spots, dabs, a cone, or a bong? It’s all the same, unfortunately; smoke harms the lungs. Bong users often think they’re causing less harm, as the water cools the smoke/ vapour and gives a smoother hit. However, this is not the case. In part, this is due to the fact that marijuana users tend to inhale deeply and hold their breath, worsening the effects.
Smoking marijuana recreationally can cause chronic bronchitis. The smoke injures the cell linings of large airways, which explains why smoking can cause symptoms including chronic coughing, too much phlegm production, wheezing, and chronic bronchitis. The type of lung damage is different to that caused by cigarettes, for instance, it seems that COPD can be caused by tobacco smoke, but not cannabis. Researchers from Otago University have dubbed the damage as ‘bong lung’.
Any cell changes in our bodies could potentially lead to cancer. When a cell mutates, for whatever reason, it can change how the cell grows or functions. This may change proteins that can lead to cancer. Marijuana smoke contains benzopyrene, benzanthracene, vinyl chlorides, phenols, tar, and nitrosamines. Studies at this point are sketchy, but it is plausible that smoking marijuana could cause cancer.
If you must, use a vaporiser. These medical devices are designed to be used with dried, milled, cannabis flowers. It heats the flowers in a controlled fashion to avoid burning and creating that carcinogenic effect. It still delivers the same speed of relief. However, if you have lung issues, you should not be using this, speak to a doctor about alternative options.
Second-hand marijuana smoke has the same amount of toxins and carcinogens as directly inhaled smoke, in similar or higher amounts. This is why cannabis should never be smoked around children or animals.
Other Harm from Smoking Marijuana
Smoking weed can affect the immune system. This is because the lungs perform important tasks such as removing dust and germs that we inhale. The smoke stops the lungs from performing these jobs. This may lead to an increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections.
Cannabis also suppresses the immune system by increasing the number of immunosuppressive cytokines, while simultaneously decreasing t-cell activation cytokines. At this point, the outcomes of this aren’t known- this could even be beneficial for certain conditions. However, this is something to be aware of, especially if you have problems with your immune system.
Should I Be Smoking Weed?
It’s not up to us to tell you what to do. But if your primary concern is your health then medically speaking, no you shouldn’t. Contact a medicinal cannabis consultant for a chat if you need a prescription. There are ways to get the relief you need, without compromising your health and well-being.
- Smoking cannabis can harm your lungs
- Smoking weed might not offer the best relief for medical problems
- Regardless of the ingestion method, smoking is carcinogenic