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January 10th, 2012
05:11 PM ET

Study: Occasional pot smoking not as damaging as cigarettes

Science has shown the dangers of cigarette smoking on lungs– smoking undermines lung function, causes lung cancer and long-term breathing problems such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  But what about smoking marijuana?

Researchers sought to determine whether exposure to marijuana smoke, which contains many of the same components in cigarette smoke, would also show negative effects on lung function.

They were surprised to find that subjects who occasionally smoked pot – meaning two to three times per month – did not show the same reduced lung function that was seen in cigarette smoking. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Using data from a 20 year study designed to measure heart disease called the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, researchers analyzed data from more than 5,000 men and women, aged 18 to 30, from four U.S. cities.

Participants from Oakland, Chicago, Minneapolis and Birmingham were repeatedly measured for pulmonary function, height, smoking behavior, and waist circumference and asked about cigarette and marijuana smoking during each assessment.

“There are well known effects of tobacco on pulmonary function and we thought, going into this, that we would find similar types of effects for marijuana,” said lead study author Dr. Mark J. Pletcher of the University of California, San Francisco.

As expected, his team found among cigarette smokers, the more smoke a subject was exposed to, the more adverse effects they had in lung function. Lung function was measured with spirometry testing, which shows the amount of air a person can forcibly exhale, giving  doctors a measure of how well the lungs are functioning.

But Pletcher notes that his team was surprised to find that subjects who smoked limited amounts of marijuana actually were able to blow large volumes of air into the spirometer. 

“People who smoke marijuana inhale very deeply, which may strengthen the muscles used for inhalation – basically making them good at the test. So even though it’s a very statistically significant result, it probably doesn’t have any physiologic meaning in terms of function,” he explained. 

Subjects who smoked larger amounts of marijuana, which Pletcher described as smoking one joint per day, did show evidence of reduced pulmonary function, and he stressed that his study results are not intended to encourage people to use marijuana. 

However, for patients for whom medical marijuana may be a treatment option, the authors write that "marijuana may have beneficial effects on pain control, appetite, mood, and management of other chronic symptoms.  Our findings suggest that occasional use of marijuana for these or other purposes may not be associated with adverse consequences on pulmonary function.  It is much more difficult to estimate the potential effects of regular heavy use... our findings do suggest an accelerated decline in pulmonary function with heavy use."

It’s important to note that the findings of this study are not meant to encourage marijuana smoking, nor did the study examine other known negative effects of marijuana use, which include problems with memory, concentration and perception.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Long term use of marijuana can lead to addiction, and chronic marijuana use is associated with mental health problems including anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that when marijuana use begins at a younger age, it may increase mental health problems, including psychosis, according to NIDA.


soundoff (585 Responses)
  1. Sanjosemike

    As a retired physician, this entire group of posts puts me back to my first pharmacology lecture. I am not necessarily against smoking pot, but I am against "recreational" use of any form of drug. Back to pharmacology. Why do we prescribe and take drugs:

    1. A drug use even should have a specific intent and well understood purpose
    2. The drug should be used ONLY as long as a previously defined necessity to treat a specific illness
    3. The drug must not act adversely when combined with other medications used by the patient
    4. Monitoring the use of the drug is part of its prescribing event.
    5. Defining long term use of a drug requires long terms studies to allow it for long term safety.

    Pot is in the same class as any other drug. It may make sense to prescribe it for a specific treatment, but all of the guidelines for that prescription apply. For example, a patient who has a terminal illness may find value in pot. Their long term use fulfills different rules than those who have a non-defined length of life expectance.

    Let's keep drugs for use as drugs. Recreational use is against all reasonable criteria for prescribing. We seem to have a love-affair with drug use. While it is true that pot is not as dangerous as many other drugs, that does not mean it is perfectly safe. Why introduce chemicals into our bodies unless we have GOOD reasons to do so?

    sanjosemike

    January 11, 2012 at 10:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • George

      Do you include alcohol in this?

      January 11, 2012 at 10:51 | Report abuse |
    • jim

      And alcohol is great for sanitizing things, yet people seem to really enjoy drinking it recreationally. Pot is only a drug when applied as a drug - THC. The smoking of pot for "medical" uses is just a charade for legalization.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:54 | Report abuse |
    • oldgreg

      Very good point, but then you have to talk about the question, "What is a drug?". Caffeine, alcohol? Both drugs, neither prescribed. I get what you're saying, but if there are not any studies to show that pot is detrimental, why not do it? People stopped smoking cigarettes as widely when all of these studies came out about how dangerous it is, including the Surgeon General's warning on the actual box. It's a natural human tendency to want to alter one's state of mind. That's why people do it. The same reason people drink. The same reason people smoke cigarettes.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:56 | Report abuse |
    • timmy

      "Pot is in the same class as any other drug."

      so pot is in the same class as Oxycontin? With that logic, so is caffeine. So glad baby boomer, glorified drug dealers like you are retiring

      January 11, 2012 at 10:56 | Report abuse |
    • Roger Ogilvy Thornhill

      Yes, what about alcohol. Also, what about placebo effect? If smoking pot occasionally makes a person think she's in less pain, that has value, right? Don't get too wrapped up in your Western, drug-company-funded, test tube medicine Mr. Science.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:58 | Report abuse |
    • J

      As a retired physician, I spend all of my time writing ridiculously long comments on CNN.com. C'mon man.

      January 11, 2012 at 10:58 | Report abuse |
    • Preston

      And what about the most nefarious drug of all – nicotine?

      January 11, 2012 at 11:00 | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      What about chocolate (caffeine)? Really, everything is a drug.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:00 | Report abuse |
    • rh

      Not any studies to show pot is detrimental? Just as there are no studies that show the global warming scare is way overblown.

      Do a Google search on "marijuana" "schizophrenia" and "psychosis". Not everyone is affected by side effects, but significant negative side effects can be seen with marijuana use.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:05 | Report abuse |
    • Gral

      Sir because it is enjoyable and fun.

      I like a beer after working hard under the sun in the summer, I enjoy a bottle of wine when I dine in good company and a joint of marijuana on other occasions. I like baseball but I also like cardio sports: sometimes I play soccer.

      I am very glad I tried marijuana when I was younger and I wouldnt want to have lived down here without having tried/enjoyed it during all these years, like good looking women, baseball, jooging etc

      When people used to consume Marianni wine back then, there was no stigma on drugs. They drank and enjoyed it and repeated the experience as any other pleasureable experience they would repeat in their lives.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:07 | Report abuse |
    • PuffPuffPass

      I don't call it a drug because the government does. I call it a herb.....exactly what it is.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:07 | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      Nevermind alcohol... what about caffeine? Caffeine is a drug, and it can have negative effects. We use it to get a boost in the morning. Similarly, many people who smoke marijuana "recreationally" are often doing it for the opposite effect – to relieve stress. Just because they do it every day doesn't mean it's "recreational".

      If you want to draw the line even further out, what's the difference between marijuana and candy? Candy has no nutritional value, and can be bad for you if you eat it every day. But we eat it because it makes us feel good, and because we enjoy it. Should recreational use of candy be banned?

      January 11, 2012 at 11:09 | Report abuse |
    • derp

      That's a pretty myopic point of view for a physician considering there is no rational criterion for classifying something as a drug.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:14 | Report abuse |
    • nepawoods

      "I am against 'recreational' use of any form of drug" ... That's nice, but it's quite obviously a very basic part of human nature that you're against. And I have to assume you mean alcohol too. Furthermore, the line between recreational and therapeutic is quite fuzzy. How different is the guy who takes a few puffs off a joint after a stressful day at the office from the guy who uses a prescribed sedative?

      January 11, 2012 at 11:16 | Report abuse |
    • Dr Tom

      Good to see the Mormons coming out of the closet Dr. Buzkill! Now tell us about corn syrup?

      January 11, 2012 at 11:23 | Report abuse |
    • Lori

      why eat bacon? because it taste great, and life only comes around once.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:25 | Report abuse |
    • Sanjosemike

      I'm am a retired physician. I love to drink myself into oblivion when I'm not using a six pack of vaseline on my lower half.

      Both have the same effect as any drug, personal pleasure. But retired physicians are hypocritical idiots that don't see past their own lofty opinions, and only support what current 'law' says.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:26 | Report abuse |
    • Bob Floy

      "jim

      And alcohol is great for sanitizing things, yet people seem to really enjoy drinking it recreationally. Pot is only a drug when applied as a drug – THC. The smoking of pot for "medical" uses is just a charade for legalization."

      Wow...just wow.... If this nincompoop thinks that the alcohol used to sanitize things is the same alcohol used to drink he fails at life. They're not even remotely close to being the same thing. If you drink isopropyl you'll die.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:26 | Report abuse |
    • Primal

      Boy am I glad you were never my doctor.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:30 | Report abuse |
    • LWZRGHT

      "Why introduce chemicals into our bodies unless we have GOOD reasons to do so? "

      Because if people choose to do that, they accept the risks with it.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:32 | Report abuse |
    • kdog

      How many "kickbacks" do physicians get from Drug Companies for perscribing certain drugs? Kind of mucks the water of your "The drug should be used ONLY as long as a previously defined necessity to treat a specific illness", when there is a "vested intrest" in the literal perscription of drugs to patients, doesnt it?

      January 11, 2012 at 11:38 | Report abuse |
    • Alcyhol

      Bob Floy – I see sarcasm is lost on you. However, you can use any kind of alcohol for sterilization, including ethanol.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:46 | Report abuse |
    • elperro

      Yes, because the pharmaceutical companies are only in the practice of following this dictum. I hesitate to describe the horribly addictive and psychologically debilitating drugs that were given to me at the drop of a hat when I mentioned to my general physician that I had a mild case of depression. Pot is child's play by comparison.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:48 | Report abuse |
    • sielingfan

      Studies also find that people who shoot themselves in the head with a .22 are less likely to die than those who shoot themselves in the head with a .45

      This just in: Shooting yourself in the head with a .22 is healthy.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:51 | Report abuse |
    • DeFace

      And yet, rich people can doctor shop for their oxycontin and viagra is dispensed like sugar. And what of the poison alcohol?

      January 11, 2012 at 12:04 | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Actually, a 22 might be just as lethal as the larger caliber bullet but the mode of operation would be different. The 22 is so light, it might not exit the skull and rattle around in there a bit thus scrambling the brain. With the larger caliber, you just blow the back of your head off. However, a little commercial or a little cronic.....doesn't matter because neither is lethal.

      January 11, 2012 at 12:10 | Report abuse |
    • BecauseIcan420

      Sanjosemike- But it’s okay if I smoke cigarettes because they are legal? even though they are 10 times more addictive then pot? and I more likely to die of lung disease from cigarettes then I am pot? makes perfect sense to me!

      January 11, 2012 at 12:52 | Report abuse |
  2. Debbie

    While I know marijuana has advesrse effects, memory loss being one, and if anyone thinks it makes their mind clearer needs to try a sudoku or other mental puzzle while smoking, I also don't think it's anyworse than tobacco or alcohol. Why it is not legal for medical use in some states is really baffling.It is absolutely effective in reducing illness related to chemo, and in uncontrolled glaucoma just to name a few things. I'm a nurse, and I don't smoke it, but I feel it should absolutely have the taboo taken away from it. Sick folks can get very strong opiates, but not pot? Ridiculous.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • George

      That's funny. I completed a study myself for the last four years. When I take classes, study and take tests high I make better grades then when I don't explain that one. When I play Words with Friends high I whoop their butts. Not everyone that takes a prescribed medication is going to have rectal bleeding or a heart attack either. Heck I can smoke pot all my life and not have one of those side effects. But if I have trouble holding an erection all the medications have suicide as one of the side effects but you know what. The FDA passed those drugs. Studies have linked alcohol to aggression and violence and yet there seems to be no moral issue with a man beating his wife to near death cause he was drunk. Or an alcoholic plowing through a family in an intersection. All I have to say is the wrong drugs are legal because the wrong people are making money off you remaining sick. The whole purpose of side effects is to sell you more medication. LOL. Society today is about as dumb as we have ever been. Sure I will take rectal bleeding, high blood pressure, depression, suicidal thoughts any day before we legalize a plant. LOL. P.S. It was not the marijuana that caused the suicidal thoughts, it was the depression the person already had that did. Dee-Da-Dee

      January 11, 2012 at 11:02 | Report abuse |
    • rh

      Your story is called an anecdote. It sounds like you need marijuana to function. That is called addiction.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:06 | Report abuse |
    • Waikoloa Wahine

      Come to Hawaii & look at all the "medical" marijuana users. It's a joke. The stoners find some Doc who for $100 writes them a "need" script & they're off to lala (or lolo) land. The Big Island has a HUGE number of medical users– ironically they seem to all congregate in one area of the island & live like trailer trash & harass the rest of the people in the area.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:11 | Report abuse |
    • strkeout

      @George.. I wonder if you were high during your English classes because your knowledge of punctuation and concept of sentences is baffling.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:37 | Report abuse |
    • Bill the Cat

      The fact that George doesn't know the difference between "then" and "than" proves that the marijuana did affect his brain.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:44 | Report abuse |
    • Sal

      And shows the mentality of marijuana users. Congrats, George. I'm sure you passed your English 101 class with "flying high" colors.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:54 | Report abuse |
    • DeFace

      Playing soduku when high, or drunk, or on pharmaceuticals will probably give you a bad game..... but you are trying to say that after I am back to normal my game will suffer? No, it does not.

      January 11, 2012 at 12:06 | Report abuse |
  3. supergeezer

    It is good to see an article that tells the truth about cannabis in CNN. It was a good piece except for the disclaimer paragraph at the end. We would like to see more articles that tell the truth and/or expose the lies about cannabis, but if they keep printing them, I expect that CNN will be reprimanded in one way or another by one or more of the special interests who want to keep it illegal. Nevertheless, the truth is getting out!

    January 11, 2012 at 10:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Preston

      I'll bet that back in the day when you saw 'Reefer Madness', you just about filled your shorts, eh gramps? Better stick to your 'safe' big Pharma poison.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:05 | Report abuse |
    • rh

      The "truth" is the same truth as other over-the-counter or prescription medications. Some people use marijuana and are fine. Some people use it once and almost die (I know three people who ended up in the ER from one joint, from the same bags that others were using with no ill effects so no spiking). Some people like myself have serious lung effects from even breathing second hand marijuana smoke, worse than from breathing second hand tobacco smoke. Some people get schizophrenic from it (my brother). Of course you can explain them all away by "predispositions" but before you take a drug, of any sort legal or illegal, you don't know.

      The main problem with wholesale legalization of pot is the same reason we are stuck with alcohol being regulated inconsistently. We don't want our kids to have it, but we want to have it. We want everyone to be responsible using it, but we can't legislate responsibility.

      I don't see an easy way out, because I also don't think legalization will completely stop illegal drug trafficking. Tobacco cigarettes are legal, and still people are illegally transporting and selling them. Alcohol is legal, and still people are making it, transporting, and selling it.

      My main concern is second-hand smoke and availability to minors. I would be perfectly fine if marijuana was legal in private settings – no public places due to second-hand smoke – and only sellable to adults. I would also want to have clear and consistent laws about driving and other working in a responsible position while under the influence. There have already been cases of people smoking pot due to glaucoma being fired for being high on the job. I don't want my surgeon to be high, but I can deal with the grocery clerk being high.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:13 | Report abuse |
    • Primal

      Sorry rh but you are an outright liar. Glad you have no say in anything that actually matters.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:25 | Report abuse |
    • what?

      Nobody has ever died from marijuana so dont say so. If your friends went to the ER because they inhaled a flower then they had another problem that caused it. Marijuana has never and will never send anyone to the ER.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:35 | Report abuse |
    • Bill the Cat

      @ what?

      A 2001 study showed an increase in heart attacks within 1 hour after smoking marijuana.

      Boston–June 2001, Harvard Medical School affiliate Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center–Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess and their colleagues have found that people who smoke marijuana may increase their risk of a heart attack. In a study of nearly 4,000 people who had suffered a heart attack, the researchers observed that a person's chance of having a heart attack, particularly those who are already at risk for heart disease, increased nearly five times during the first hour after smoking marijuana.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:53 | Report abuse |
    • DeFace

      RH... nobody has ever died from smoking pot.... what happened was they were "blow its" who couldn't handle it... just like some cannot handle drinking.

      January 11, 2012 at 12:07 | Report abuse |
  4. asdf

    the study wasn't "intended" to encourage marijuana use, but it sure does!

    January 11, 2012 at 10:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ilovetweed

      yeah looking at the fat j bird in the picture makes me wanna blaze right now at work!

      January 11, 2012 at 10:54 | Report abuse |
  5. ilovetweed

    legalize weed and the net profit should be used to balance the fed budget. i mean we are only talking about $7.5+ billion dollars a year. break some off from the pot heads in the US (myself included) and I will happily pay taxes and support erecting schools and fixing the public education system and alleviating poverty.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • thatguyjustsaid

      haha... erecting...

      January 11, 2012 at 11:15 | Report abuse |
    • Ian

      You're so naive. So legalizing one drug that a small percentage of the population use will fix the worlds' largest economy? Personally, I could care less if Marijuana is legal or not, but please be a little more realistic.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:43 | Report abuse |
    • Alexk

      He never said it would fix the economy he just said the tax revenue from the commercial sale of the drug should be put towards balancing the budget. Just based on current consumption alone pot use would bring in around $7 billion in tax revenue. Legalizing it will likely increase this and something like $10-$12 billion a year in tax revenue would be possible. Plus this would create tens of thousands of new jobs in the country.

      You have the same moronic mindframe that politicians have. You shoot down any single idea that will not solve the debt crisis. No single policy will do this but legalizing pot could solve 1% of the debt crisis which many Americans think is tremendous progress.

      January 11, 2012 at 12:04 | Report abuse |
    • elperro

      Yah, unfortunately 7.5 billion dollars is a drop in the ocean compared to our federal budget problems. It may however, offer local governments (and farmers) some options and revenue. It would also lessen the strain on our overcrowed prision systems, and solve some of the mexican cartel problems on our Southern border. So yah, it could help some things, but balancing the federal budget is not one of them.

      January 11, 2012 at 12:07 | Report abuse |
  6. Unknown

    But uncle sam is behind the scam he's slinging sacks behind our backs though i dont see it getting legalized any time in the near future i think it will happen i just hope it happens while im alive i would be very very happy and it might get me to the voting booth

    January 11, 2012 at 10:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. mr

    This is a stupid headline. Let's make a point of saying smoking dope is good for your lungs. Really, who cares that smoking pot three times a month has no impact on your lungs. You could say the same for a cigarette. Does that mean it is ok? Yikes, these researchers need to take a step back and see what they are saying. Headline seeking is not a science.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • rh

      And in the story they say that daily use DOES damage your lungs. But that would not be an interesting headline I guess.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:17 | Report abuse |
  8. Steve

    It might have to do with the fact that the medical MJ I use is grown organically and is very clean. I know the guys who grow it and they have a very nice operation.

    Cigarettes on the other hand contain lead, mercury, cyanide, rat poison, rat feces...there are over 600 chemicals that are NOT tobacco in a cigarette. And on the plus side of cigarettes, they have absolutely no medical benefit (CRAAAZY FACE)

    January 11, 2012 at 10:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • bspurloc

      or it might have 100% to do with the study used an invalid equation "two to three times per month"

      January 11, 2012 at 11:00 | Report abuse |
  9. bspurloc

    "two to three times per month" uh...... addictions arent done 2-3 times a month more like 2-3 times a day.... biased study... use REAL LIFE factors and u have exact same damage as cigarettes

    January 11, 2012 at 10:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • timmy

      yeah and cigarettes are smoked 15-20 times a day...what is your point?

      January 11, 2012 at 11:00 | Report abuse |
    • timmy

      "use REAL LIFE factors and u have exact same damage as cigarettes"

      do you have any evidence to back this up or is just your rat..arded opinion?

      January 11, 2012 at 11:01 | Report abuse |
    • bspurloc

      oh now cigs are 15-20 times a day..... ah hah....
      got any other exaggerations to point away from OCCASIONAL is bs

      January 11, 2012 at 11:02 | Report abuse |
  10. pot head 420

    Pretty cool study except how many people that smoke pot only do so "occasionally"?

    January 11, 2012 at 10:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • PuffPuffPass

      My girlfriend is one. She may smoke once a month.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:16 | Report abuse |
    • Jimbo

      I used to smoke everyday and probably would still if I could get away with it but I can't. I get to smoke once a week if I'm lucky but usually only like twice a month. I actually like it more this way, you feel the effects way more almost like it's your first time everytime.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:19 | Report abuse |
    • Alexk

      There are tons of working people who smoke this much. They are not regular smokers but will occasionally smoke a joint at a party or on a special occasion. Especially adults who have young children and only smoke when they can get away for an entire night.

      January 11, 2012 at 12:09 | Report abuse |
  11. eggnogDrinker

    Smoking pot, the only thing bad is the smoke itself. All smoke is bad though. Also, most people who smoke cigarettes smoke many a day, but remember, just one cigarette is more than a pot smoker will consume all day with pot, since they need much less of it. You can also eat pot, and it will have no harmful effects whatsoever, whereas cigarettes would since it has so many unnatural chemicals. Last but the best, pot can be inhaled through a vaporizer, meaning you get no smoke, which means you acquire 0 carcinogens. Go tell the world, and come back and thank me for this knowledge.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Johnny

      eggnogDrinker has it right. Look at smoke crystals under a microscope and therein lies the danger. Sharp, pointed, crystals. Can do serious damage to delicate lung cells. Air packs would be required for most "smoke filled rooms" if the atmosphere was anaylyzed.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:38 | Report abuse |
  12. Ron

    Really? Did they ever do a study of the effects of smoking only 2 or 3 cigarettes per month? Or were all their smoking studies done on regular smokers, who generally smoke a pack a day. I'd like to see comparative studies using the same amounts of tobacco versus pot. This study proves nothing in regards to the long term effects of pot on the lungs versus smoking.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jaykow

      I don't know anyone that could smoke a 'pack a day' worth of pot. That is a LOT of pot. Know what you are talking about before you speak.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:57 | Report abuse |
  13. PuffPuffPass

    I work for a bank. One of the big boy's. I also smoke. I've been with the bank for over 5 years, even winning our most prestegious award in 2007 for exemplary service. I don't say this to brag, I say this to set the stage for my point.....

    Recently, our division of the bank merged with another company. The other compnay owns 51%, therefore, they call the shots. Surprisingly, when getting hired by the bank, a drug test was not given (I believe it is now). Now, in comes this other company. Because they call the shots now, we all had to get a drug test. If not for some ingenuity on my part, I would have lost my job. Someone that was considered the top 1% of the company could have been fired because of out-dated beliefs and silly laws.

    We did loose some very, very good people.....all because of what they decide to do in their own time. I hope I'm alive when the day comes that this primitave mentality towards pot is finally a thing of the past.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • latenite

      When I lived on Long Island years ago, one commuter train plowed into another because the engineer on one train was stoned on pot. One problem with legalization is that it becomes that much less likely for people to confine it to "recreational" use. It's tough enough already keeping people from being stupid and drinking and driving. You want to add that many more who are stoned and driving?

      January 11, 2012 at 11:26 | Report abuse |
    • T3chsupport

      I dont work for a bank, but I do service work for many very large, obscure, complex machines.before I was hired there, they had a random one time and had to let go about half of the work force. They don't do that anymore! I smoke daily, and easily worked my way from a temp into management. Most of my co worker are smokers too. You won't ever find a more awesome group of productive, innovative, and pleasant people.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:28 | Report abuse |
    • PuffPuffPass

      Latenite.....to my knowledge, I don't know of the law actually keeping people from driving stoned. Usually, if people smoke, they will drive while under the influence as well. With that being said, I don't know of one person that has been pulled over for "high driving".

      And I'm curious, because the engineer was under the influence, is that definitive proof that's what caused the accident??? I've done a lot of dumb stuff with no outside influences. Mark my word, if I smoke a joint before getting behind the wheel, and let's say I skid on the ice and hit a tree. Leave pot out of the equation and it will be blammed on bad weather. Add the fact that I smoked a joint and they'll blame it on that every time.

      January 11, 2012 at 12:28 | Report abuse |
  14. Roger

    No mention of vaporizers? Do your research, Ms.Ann J Curley.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Op

    I have smoked pot everyday for 33 years. I have never smoked cigarettes. I recently had x-rays of my lungs. Perfectly healthy.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Fred in VA

    There are devices on the market that supposedly deliver the "essence" of an herb (in this case, the THC) without delivering the tar and other toxins contained in the smoke itself. I'm not sure how they work, but I wonder whether the effects on the pulmonary system for heavy pot users would be lessened or eliminated entirely if they consumed the substance via one of those devices.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jimbo

      They are vaporizers. They work by heating up the pot to a temperature high enough to release the chemicals like THC turning them into a vapor without burning the plant material. You inhale a flavorful vapor instead of a big puff of smoke. You can also cook the plant in butter or oil and the chemicals will attached to the fat of the butter, then you cook with the butter.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:23 | Report abuse |
  17. DSA

    It's interesting that CNN put a spin on this study implying that smoking one joint a day causes reduced lung function. What the study actually found was that lung function was not reduced as a result of smoking one joint a day for up to seven years. There was reduced lung function past that point.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Jimbo

    Just decriminalize the stuff already, making it legal would be great but that is too much work for our lazy politicians. So just make it to where you can't get arrested for it or growing it or holding. If we allowed our own citizens to grow the plants in their closets there would be a huge decline in the black market, the cartels would lose a large amount of money and the smokers wouldn't be supporting any drug dealers. I never understood why growing it yourself was such a harsh crime when in actuality you are doing way less damage to society.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. T3chsupport

    Who cares. There are so many wonderful ways of getting it into your system now that smoking is fairly irrelevant. Other methods should be promoted more, like vaporizers and foods and delicious, relaxing drinks. They all have their charms. Do still enjoy smoking it though. Old habits die hard.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cleat

      addictied much?

      January 11, 2012 at 11:24 | Report abuse |
    • More informed than you!

      probably no more than you are to your cigs and alcohol, but you kettle are dark, and not black, right?

      January 11, 2012 at 11:38 | Report abuse |
  20. buddget

    Been smoking a lot of weed and it has caught up with me. I made pot brownies instead, and wow, one 2" x 2" brownie kept me high all day. Look out Betty Crocker.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. craig

    Oh people who smoke pot 3 times a month are better off than people smoking a pack of cigs a day? duh.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. latenite

    Am I missing something here? Are we comparing apples to apples? The article states "They were surprised to find that subjects who occasionally smoked pot – meaning two to three times per month – did not show the same reduced lung function that was seen in cigarette smoking." How many cigarette smokers smoke just two to three times a month?

    January 11, 2012 at 11:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. cleat

    wow- you smoke cigs every day is more damaging than pot 1-2 a month...wow...no kidding.
    lets compare evenly....
    looks like another lefty cnn artice trying to justify its core readers addictions...

    January 11, 2012 at 11:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. David

    Not a big surprise! How many cig smokers smoke 2-3 cigs/month? Can't compare apples and limes and expect any meaningful results.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. keb carerra

    Should one have health concerns about smoking pot please be advised there are products out there to help one get stoned in a non toxic way. Look up the Volcano Vaporizer , this is just one of many products available to keep the lungs from the toxins in the smoke. Cooking with pot can be fun also .

    January 11, 2012 at 11:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. surprise

    Like we needed current research to prove this?

    We've known more than this for thousands of years.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. 17701774

    This doesn't mean this is good for you. And keep in mind the study said 'occasional use'. Many people who smoke use it more than twice a month, and you are still applying heat to your lungs. I'm guessing the studies done on the cigarette smokers didn't only smoke, say, a couple puffs of a cigarette a month considering nicotine is so addicting. Also, I always hear about heavy pot smokers (especially blunt smokers) having strokes. Measure that risk. Still, it's probably safer than an extreme bout with hard alcohol, and the government could capitalize off it if they were smart. Once they are able to design some sort of breathalyzer that can tell recent cannibis use, they likely will. Until then it would complicate things. I wouldn't want to be on the same road as a bunch of potheads.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • topaz114

      You're right. The study does say "occasional" pot use and I know people are going to take it out of context and think it's better for you than cigarettes. Actually, 1 joint of weed is equal to 4 cigarettes and does indeed lead to lung cancer. The difference is that a lot of people smoke many cigarettes a day, whereas they don't usually smoke weed that often.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:38 | Report abuse |
  28. Ron Paul 2012!

    Pot is just a naturally occurring plant. It is not a drug.

    Drugs are what Big-Pharma manufactures.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Dan

    Poor article of course anyone who has extreme lim its of use wont have the same results. lets compare apples to apples not apples to grapes. Why not conduct a steady on a pack a day smoker to lets say 20 joints a day pot smoker as well lets see those results.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. More informed than you!

    The point is if a person needs medicine for pain we need to give them whatever it takes to help them. We try and choose the lowest doses and the interventions with the least negative side effects. Marijuana has less side effects than ALL other pharmacuetical interventions, and patients report increased pain control. See norml for refrences, see this full article on there page, this only highlights limited findings as they don't want to advocate marijuana. Also see other peer reviewed medical journal article this month on marijuana being the safest for nueropathic pain, it totally eliminates risk of overdose, and potentiates narcotic use allowing patients to take smaller doses for enhanced effects. You may argue your opinion if it should be legal, but you are the prohibitionist from a century ago fighting alcohol for reasons unknow to yourselfs. please try and first be open minded and then educate yourself and you could not find any other answer. Licensed medical professional here.... and every medical association, american medical association, and most states nursing associations note its safety and effectiveness and recommend its usage. Unfortunately some people just believe what they hear and love to follow others.... and to anyone that should dispute this...may i say in advance.....baaaahhhh sheepy baaaaaahhhh

    January 11, 2012 at 11:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. More informed than you!

    dan, there are tinctures, edibles, vaporizers, oils, many other options, so yes you are correct but for the people looking to limit the negative there are vast amounts of altern ative deliveries. If eaten and converted by the liver it changes the form of thc and becomes more body high and less "high" in the head, great for pain relief of cancer patients etc, true deep extreme pain. SMoking or vaporized or even tincture (alcohol extract placed under tongue thatis directly absorbed by the linning of the mouth and directly into blood stream bypassing the liver effect previously detailed) are more profound depending on strain for moods anxiety depression, etc in general....so theres options and it can be safer than cigarettes if you want it to be.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. OregonTom

    When you boil it all down it is nobody's damn business what you do.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Paul

    So a potsmoker who smokes less pot than the average tobacco smoker smokes tobacco is hurting his lungs less. I don't think you needed a study to figure that one out.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. yourpalfromsocal

    The benefits of cannabis ues outweigh the risks by such a large margin any discussion to the contrary is the opitomy of foolishness and should be rendered as propaganda by the AMA, FDA and big Pharma who control the media and, more spacifically, CNN. The use of cigarettes and alcohol will lead to compramised health which benefits the currupt health care industry while there is no true evidence that cannabis use will. It should also be noted that cannabis is an herb, put here by the Creator for the benefit of man. It should be free to ues as it cannot be patented or trademarked. The biggest opponent to its use is big pharma, the billion dollar industry who now controls the doctors and schools who conduct these phony studies. It should also be known that big pharma markets a synthetic duplicate of cannabis to sell to the duped misinformed masses at substantial cost.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. LiveYourLife

    Legalize all drugs. Prescription drugs are as dangerous and addictive as licit drugs, and the individual will be responsible..or not..for their own actions for usage. Everyday, people die of heart disease, cancer and diabetes, etc., from poor diets, obesity and lack of exercise. Alcohol abuse has long established, well known detriments, and general carelessness and stupidity kills people more than anything else. E.g., driving while texting.

    I say, do what you want in a free society and be held accountable for your actions. Put a stopper in big governement and end the ridiculous drug war that waste hundreds of billions of dollars and makes the cartels richer and more powerful. Allow individuals the ability to decide for themselves what is best for them.

    Pot may be a benefit to some and a detriment to others...but they should decide for themselves without the governement deciding what "dangerous" substances we can have or not.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Chad

    Obvious article is obvious. Must be a very slow news day.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. mike

    Who smokes pot only two or three times a month? Also, one joint a day, compared to a cigarettes smoker has at least ten a day! Do a test of a person who smokes two marijuana joints a day versus two cigarettes.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. ramicio

    So, they compared smoking pot 1-2 times a month to a chronic smoker? Why don't they compare apples and apples? They should compare the people who spark up joints all day like they are cigarettes. I don't even think tobacco is inherently dangerous. It's all the poison the industry puts in it. The Amish grow their tobacco, don't add anything to it, don't use pesticides, and the use it unfiltered, and you don't see them dropping like flies from any kinds of cancer.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Malik

    "Subjects who smoked larger amounts of marijuana, which Pletcher described as smoking one joint per day, did show evidence of reduced pulmonary function, and he stressed that his study results are not intended to encourage people to use marijuana. " However, smoking one cigarette per day, even if deeply inhaled, may not show any evidence of reduced pulmonary function. So what's new in this convoluted study?

    January 11, 2012 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Dennis Pence

    Go ahead – legalize pot. I feel about it the way I do about alcohol. If you drink/smoke pot and drive under the influence, you are accountable for the results – and they need to be stiff fines if no one is killed or seriously injured – and prison for a long time if they are.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Bob Loblaw

    Even if smoking weed was just as damaging as cigarettes (which it very clearly isn't) it should still be legal. We all know cigarettes and alcohol are the most damaging drugs to society and by far kill more people than all other illegal drugs combined. Sorry but drug laws are not about saving lives, thus all this medical research is mildly unrelated to legalization. The bottom line is the government shouldn't be in the business of policing your personal habits and deciding what is "morally" correct to consume and what isn't. This is about civil liberty.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. citizenUSA

    Pot makes your lungs go... Ahhhhh.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Joksonu

    What a load of what fills a baby's diaper.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. keb carerra

    I have been smoking pot since I was 16 in 1970 . I have never had the urge to go on to harder drugs like alcohol and heroin as I have always been aware of the health risks involved. I have gone through long periods of not using pot and never had a hard time stopping. I have found it to be a wonderful drug in training for marathons etc. Like food , if you abuse it too much or all the time their will be consequences. Used properly it is fantastic. The drug has a bad reputation and most of it if not all are just straight out lies. I certainly never tell anyone I am a stoner and when the subject comes up I never say a word as I like my employment. This is a safer place to share my experience.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. ROBERT

    Some of these studies are such a joke....If someone smoked a cigerrette "2 or 3 times a month"..would they suffer any long term health effects..?.of course not ....how many marijuana smokers smoke "2 or 3 times a month" ??? How about a study that reflects the real world ?...A world where people smoke every day, several times a day....for many years

    January 11, 2012 at 11:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. angryersmell

    Correction: "Depression and anxiety are associated with chronic marijuana use (along with chronic alcohol use; chronic poor eating habits; chronic nail biting; chronic self-gratification; basically anything that helps one deal with depression and anxiety)."

    January 11, 2012 at 11:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. elperro

    Yah, kind of a dumb study. Of course someone who only has a couple hits of pot a month is not going to be adversely affected. And as pot has become more potent, it takes much less than it once did to acheive the desired effect. One breathes more carcinogens walking down a city street. Cigarrettes become harmful becauses of their addicting capacity. An average smoker, smokes over a pack a day!

    January 11, 2012 at 12:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. shawn rohrbach

    Of course, smoking MJ two or three times a month is not harmful to the lungs. Compared to what? A pack a day cigarette smoker? I really don't know MJ users who limit themselves to two or three times a month. Usually it starts at five or six times a month and then pretty it's on the hour every day. These comparative studies are not very informing to me. Study MJ use as a stand alone; and i say the same of alcohol. And for cigarettes. At some point anything is harmful.

    January 11, 2012 at 12:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. CarrotCakeMan

    Most of the cannabis "studies" to date have been designed to attack cannabis use and have been funded by the liquor industry indirectly. If you'd like to see FACTS, not pseudo-scientific "Reefer Madness" propaganda, Google "Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research" and learn the FACTS about the safety and efficacy of cannabis. You'll see the result of over 10 years of UNBIASED study.

    January 11, 2012 at 12:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Rob

    I will smoke pot whenever I want to. nobody has the right to tell me what I can and can't do to my own body, no matter how cliche that sounds, its true. if ron paul is elected, this failed war on drugs will be squashed and finally i won't have complete fools telling me what not to do.
    I know that smoking anything is bad- I quit smoking cigarettes over two years ago. However, you can vaporize cannabis, eat it, AND smoke it. I do all three. You can TELL cannabis isn't that bad for you when you do it. It's nature's medicine! People need to mind their own business and let others do what they want as long as it doesn't include others (driving, etc. even though the "compensation factor" exists for cannabis- the user KNOWS they are high so take extra caution to compensate for any sort of hinderence or effect on their driving. They just drive a bit slower or more cautious.) In the comfort of their own home, a grown man should have the right to come home from work, sit down, and puff a bit of pot to help relax. not everyone guzzles alky like politicians....

    January 11, 2012 at 12:03 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.