image_b5t0K1V.jpegFor a child of the 60’s Mary Jane was the slang term used for marijuana. This drug has been in the news a great deal recently and I suspect will continue to be a topic of discussion in many states for many years. My position on the use of this drug for medical or recreational purposes is not the topic of this discussion. If you are or plan to use this product, particularly if you are or plan to smoke it, there are some things about its effect on the respiratory system you should know.

Marijuana is an organic compound and when it burns it gives off a variety of chemical elements that may be detrimental to the respiratory system. Some of the studies on the effects have been limited because of the illegal use of the drug and small study groups. No conclusive studies have linked marijuana use with lung cancer and the same goes for head and neck cancers. Smoking marijuana seems to be associated with a higher than usual association with bladder cancer.

Marijuana smoke contains 50% more “tar” than regular tobacco and 50% more carcinogens. Now that the recreational use of marijuana has been approved in some states we will no doubt see more of the long term effects of smoking this plant. Would tobacco use have been sanctioned then if we knew what we know now about the hazards of smoking? Could we be making the same mistake with marijuana?