A recent study conducted by UCLA has shed light on the contrasting risks associated with smoking cannabis and smoking tobacco. The findings challenge the notion that the health effects of these two substances are similar, finding that cannabis smokers do not face the same risks as tobacco smokers.
Specifically, the study found that cannabis smokers do not face the same risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which can lead to respiratory and circulatory issues, especially among those in middle age.
The study followed most participants for longer than four years. The researchers wrote that during this time, “Neither former nor current marijuana smoking of any lifetime amount was associated with evidence of COPD progression or its development.”
Comparing Cannabis Smoking to Tobacco Smoking
The UCLA study examined the potential risks associated with smoking cannabis in comparison to tobacco. Contrary to popular belief, the research indicated that smoking cannabis does not carry the same health risks as tobacco smoking, according to the study’s findings.
The study found that regular cannabis smokers did not experience the same decline in lung function as tobacco smokers. While tobacco smoking has long been associated with respiratory issues, including chronic bronchitis and reduced lung capacity, cannabis smoking did not demonstrate a similar negative impact on lung health.
The study findings may have significant implications for public health policies and the ongoing debate surrounding the legalization and regulation of cannabis. It challenges the notion that the health risks associated with smoking cannabis mirror those of tobacco smoking.
However, it is important to note that the study focused specifically on the effects of smoking cannabis, and other modes of cannabis consumption, such as vaping or edibles, were not evaluated.
Reaction to the Study
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) noted that the study reflects the findings of past studies (they keep a list of past research into this area).
NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said in a statement that “these results are consistent with decades worth of data finding that cannabis smoke exposure is not associated with the same sort of deleterious pulmonary impact as is tobacco smoke exposure.”
He added that the results “should be reassuring to cannabis consumers and to health professionals alike, and they should help to guide future policies with respect to the crafting of evidence-based public health messages and associated regulations.”
The study’s findings warrant further research to gain a comprehensive understanding of the potential risks and benefits of cannabis use. As cannabis legalization continues to expand globally, policymakers, healthcare professionals, and individuals should consider the unique aspects of cannabis smoking when formulating regulations, providing education, and promoting responsible use.