More good news for stoners: a new government study—one of the most extensive to date—has found that smoking large amounts of weed over the long term does not impair lung function, as reported in the New York Times.
The study, more relevant than ever due to the growing accessibility of medicinal marijuana, looked at over 5,000 truly dedicated pot smokers over the course of two decades and found that individuals smoking as much as one joint per day do not score lower than non-smokers on a test used to measure pulmonary obstruction.
In fact, marijuana smokers perform slightly better (almost negligibly, but it’s still worth noting) than those who smoke nothing, a result easily chalked up to stoners inhaling deep, long-held bong-style hits.
It should be noted, of course, that marijuana isn’t better for you in every way. It (as always) makes some people flakey and paranoid, and over time can lead to difficulties with learning and memory.
But, as the Times wrote:
The researchers found that for marijuana smokers, an exposure of up to seven “joint years” — with one joint-year equivalent to smoking 365 joints or filled pipes, or an average of one joint a day for seven years — did not worsen pulmonary function. Dr. Kertesz noted that with heavier marijuana use, described as 10 joint-years of exposure or more, lung function did begin to decline. And for a person who smokes both marijuana and cigarettes, “the net effect is going to be continued loss of lung function.”
Furthermore, some pulmonologists have come to believe that weed may have an anti-inflammatory property:
Dr. Donald Tashkin, a pulmonologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has studied marijuana for over 30 years and was not involved in the study, said it confirmed findings from several other studies showing “that essentially there is no significant relationship between marijuana exposure and impairment in lung function.” He said one reason marijuana smoke may not be as harmful as tobacco smoke, despite containing similar noxious ingredients, may be the fact that its active ingredient, THC, has anti-inflammatory effects.
Over time studies like these, along with more states choosing to legalize medicinal marijuana, should serve to further strip marijuana of its stigma as Washington remains stringently anti-weed. Snoop Dogg probably won’t ever get to hot box Obama, but hopefully he’ll eventually get to drive through Texas without being arrested.