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February 2nd, 2009
12:43 PM ET

Phelps faces risks from firing up

By Danielle Dellorto
CNN Medical Producer

“What was he thinking?” That seems to be the common reaction when fans hear the news that Olympic superstar Michael Phelps got caught smoking pot. What’s interesting is, as I dug deeper, I realized people weren’t too concerned that his behavior may harm his health, but more appalled that his getting caught could cost him millions of dollars in endorsement money.

This got me thinking that a lot people look at marijuana as having very limited impact on our health. One friend made his case to me with absolute certainty in his tone, “In the big scheme of things, smoking pot is not going to hurt me.” He added, “At least I don’t smoke cigarettes.”

But is that really true? Are cigarettes worse for your health than marijuana? An overwhelming amount of research says not so fast.

Smoking one marijuana cigarette sends the same amount of tar into the lungs as four tobacco cigarettes. Turns out pot contains about 400 chemicals and 50 percent more carcinogens than a tobacco cigarette. Carcinogens cause damage to the DNA in our cells, increasing your risk for lung infections, heart disease and even cancer.

Pot is becoming as addictive as tobacco too. What’s being sold today is not your parents’ generation of marijuana. A study released last summer compared pot being smoked today with what was smoked back before 1992 and concluded it is 175 percent more potent, resulting in more frequent use and increasing it's addictive properties.

The short-term health effects probably won’t surprise you: impaired judgment, forgetfulness, difficulty focusing. But the long-term effects are physical. Marijuana smoking causes asthma, chest colds, lung infections and increased heart rate. Experts believe marijuana causes more damage to the respiratory system than cigarettes because pot smokers hold the smoke in their lungs longer than a person inhaling tobacco.

People may not realize their chronic chest cold could be the result of smoking pot and quite frankly for some people it may not even matter. But for a professional athlete, a swimmer no less, who relies on the strength of his lungs to win gold medals — the health ramifications just don’t seem worth it.

So here are my questions for you: Why is it so common for people to believe smoking pot doesn’t impact your health? Were you surprised by what you read? And don’t forget to sound off on Phelps. I want to know what YOU think he was thinking!

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. George Veal Jr.

    It Like Michael said ,he behaved unrsponsibly. I do not think he shouldnot suffer the lost of endorsements for just one act unless he violated a contract in that case he made his own choice . I do however think he shoukd penalized amonths worths of endorsement funds to be used in furthering drug education. ti let him more realize the consequences of behavior without going over board.

    After all theb young didi help write American Olympic History. That counts for a whole lot. As well as his continual learning and growing.

    SHALOM
    Geo

    February 2, 2009 at 13:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. adam

    I enjoyed this article but it seems as if people who smoke a lot of weed are willing to put up with the occasionaly chest cold.

    So what if Phelps smokes a little weed. He won 8 gold medals and he probably could still win more. A little marijuana once in a while wont create enough harm to slow him down? Or will it??

    I wish someone would right an article disagreeing with this piece...

    Is it possible that there are doctors out there who believe marijuana is not that harmful?

    February 2, 2009 at 15:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Christine

    I think we need to recognize that any kind of smoking is bad for us! I have watched my Dad, Uncle and Aunt all die from lung cancer (at pretty young ages too) and it is NOT a pretty sight! The person basically suffocates slowly and that is putting it lightly. It's just not worth it.

    As for what Michael Pehlps was thinking – he obviously wasn't! Health risks aside (though that should be enough as a world class athlete) did he not stop to consider the millions of dollars in endorsements he may risk losing? He's a young guy and many of us make poor decisions when we are young – hopefully he'll grow up and learn his lesson.

    February 2, 2009 at 15:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Andy

    First of all, I don't smoke pot. I want to make that clear because my post may sound like I do.

    Now to the point, who cares if Michael Phelps smokes pot? I understand that it would be stupid for him to smoke every day for the next four years, but I really don't think hitting a bong once or twice is going to completely destroy his athletic ability. And as much as we want to think of him as simply the greatest Olympian ever, he's also a human, and if he wants to try pot, let him do so...and leave him alone. If Bill Clinton and Obama can do it and still run our country, why can't Phelps do it and still be endorsed?

    Andy

    February 2, 2009 at 16:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Elizabeth

    Here we go again as this silly blog demonizes pot.

    It's not a big deal that Michael smoked some pot. Lots of people have, do, and will do it, and they are fine. Alcohol is far more dangerous and health-harming than pot, and I don't care in Phelps indulges in one or the other on his off season. He's an adult who can make these decisions, and as long as he keeps both habits (or any others) in moderation he should be fine.

    As for the claim that "it's not your parent's pot" that is a good thing. As it is realistically impossible to overdose on pot, stronger pot just means you get high faster on less, so you have to smoke less. The vast majority of pot smokers are just like alcohol drinkers where they control their intake when they reach a nice buzz, not indulge until they are obliterated. Stronger pot = less smoking =healthier. The claim that pot is addictive (especially as much as tobacco) is total bunk.

    Here is a link to one of many peer-reviewed scientific studies showing NO link between pot and lung cancer, no matter how frequent the use: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060526083353.htm. Any lung irritation associated with the particulates inherent in smoking ANYTHING can easily be by-passed by use of a vaporizer.

    People think smoking pot doesn't impact their health because they can think and experience for themselves something that has improved lives since the dawn of time. Not all of us believe the propaganda that a simple plant is a free-will and morals-hijacking devil weed. How many people have you known that have died from pot? ZERO. How many people die of alcohol and tobacco? MILLIONS. Lay off Michael.

    February 2, 2009 at 16:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Akirah

    I think he was thinking, "Oooh pot. Everyone else is doing it. I should too."

    February 2, 2009 at 16:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Cori

    If anyone has a television, which I'm sure most of us do, even commercials tell us the effects of pot so that a 5-year-old can understand. I'm so dissapointed that he would risk his career like this. I bet his mother is appalled. I hope he loses his endoresements, anyone else would, and this case is no different.

    The worst thing about this whole ordeal is the fact that America was so proud that he was a "clean" athlete, and we were proud to have him represent us in the Olympics. He accomplished so much and made a name for himself in the world of sports. Now, he's no different that most kids in America today who jump on the drug bandwagon. What a dissapointment; what a shame.

    February 2, 2009 at 16:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Cori

    If anyone has a television, which I'm sure most of us do, even commercials tell us the effects of pot so that a 5-year-old can understand. I'm so dissapointed that he would risk his career like this. I bet his mother is appalled. I hope he loses his endorsements, anyone else would, and this case is no different.

    The worst thing about this whole ordeal is the fact that America was so proud that he was a "clean" athlete, and we were proud to have him represent us in the Olympics. He accomplished so much and made a name for himself in the world of sports. Now, he's no different that most kids in America today who jump on the drug bandwagon. What a dissapointment; what a shame.

    February 2, 2009 at 16:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. jack

    Maybe he was trying to get an endorsement from NORMAL. Obviously he has made enough in endorsements that have paid upfront to retire.

    February 2, 2009 at 16:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. weinerman

    Hey, look, more retarded outdated propaganda

    February 2, 2009 at 16:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Steve

    I personally think that he's a pretty cool guy for smoking pot. I mean, it doesn't show me that smoking is bad, instead, it shows me that you can smoke weed and still be a winner.

    peace out, and smoke weed everyday. thank you.

    February 2, 2009 at 17:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Matt

    perhaps he was just being a normal 23 year old and having a little fun.

    February 2, 2009 at 17:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. dane

    Feels good man.

    February 2, 2009 at 17:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Earl

    Hopefully, most people who smoke pot do it once in a while, not 20 times a day. Phelps should have said "I liked it, it should be legal", instead he whimped out.

    February 2, 2009 at 17:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Ben

    weinerman:

    Thank you for your insightful remark. You are living proof that too much weed fries the brain.

    As for Phelps: I doubt this will harm his health or his physical ability to compete (although this could disqualify him). But that's not what the article is about. The article is about the actual, factual potential health risks that a lot of people do not know about. It also asks a very good question: "WHAT WAS HE THINKING?" He has a golden ticket to Olympic stardom and endorsement money that he can not only have for himself and his family, but that he can donate to charity. It is shocking how he would be willing to dump that opportunity in the garbage and it is an insult to the general public because there are millions of people that would love to have his gift, and would not take it for granted.

    It doesn't matter whether or not it's really a bad thing he did; the FACTS are:

    1. He can lose his permission to compete.
    2. He can lose endorsements.
    3. Young kids look up to him and when their parents are trying to teach them that it is a bad idea to smoke weed, it's going to be more difficult for parents because, "but Mommy, Michael Phelps smokes weed, too!"

    I personally think he's a good guy and I wish everyone would forgive him and move on. But unfortunately that's not reality. Perception is reality.

    This isn't propoganda folks...put down your bong and try a little bit of the "thinking" you claim you are so good at when you smoke that stuff. Reading is stimulating for your brain. Smoking weed turns you into a moron.

    February 2, 2009 at 17:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Pat Canada

    I'd be concerned about his health if there was any factual information that he's still using Pot now. Therefore, it's something alot of young people have tried. Just because he's an athlete doesn't mean he's protected from "Peer Influence" or the inate pressure to be one of Crowd." He has enough to deal with now, pick on someone else.

    February 2, 2009 at 17:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Arturo

    Danielle Dellorto, I am sad that you like all marijuana opposes use its health concerns as a reason to not use. This gives every marijuana user right to justify their use, just as you can see on this blog. You can't try to convince society that marijuana is a drug that should be stayed away from because of the health complications it may cause. Every pot smoker will then justify their use by comparing it to alcohol or cigarettes.

    So, instead what really is wrong about smoking pot is that it releases endorphins, the body's natural way of rewarding our body's positive behaviors. Going for a walk releases endorphins. Running until you get a runner's high releases way larger amount. Getting a good idea of how to help someone releases endorphins. Accomplishing a large task, playing with your dog...
    All this positive actions are rewarded to us by our brains by a release of endorphins. The problem comes in when those endorphins and that "feel good" induced by smoking causes us to less often seek the "feel good" from our positive behaviors....naturally rewarded by our bodies...

    February 2, 2009 at 18:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Neil

    Heyo Elizabeth,

    I find it amusing that you point out the one artical on that site which does not indicate health issues from Marijuana, although it is only talking about cancer.
    Did you not see :
    Marijuana worsens COPD sysmtoms
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070521145539.htm
    or
    Marijuana Smokers face rapid lung destruction
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080123104017.htm
    or perhaps
    Marijuana smoke contains higher levels of certain toxins than tobacco
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071217110328.htm
    maybe
    Long-Term Marijuana smoking leads to respiratory complaits
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070212184119.htm
    finally
    Smoking Marijuana impairs cognitaive function in MS patients
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080213160851.htm

    lol

    Enjoy your habit....

    Ps the artical was dicussing Marijuana, not alcohol. Nobody was saying alcohol does not have problems....

    February 2, 2009 at 18:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Monique

    Obviously smoking is bad for us, in any form. The amount of people who smoke pot is great, and it just happens to be that this was a public figure, worse off an athlete, thus a lot of media attention is being put towards this.
    Let the man be. The more fuss is made over this the more people talk, and hte less of a role model he becomes. He is an incredible athlete and his accomplishments have been made, to the world. Let him do what he wants, as this website would be filled if reporters got ahold of all the athletes that smoke marijuana.

    February 2, 2009 at 18:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Lauren Conley

    I think he's thinking, what the hey, at least I'm more popular that most people, and he's enjoying having fun. And yet there IS a difference between enjoying the fruit of your labor and having fun. He just screwed over many of the 15 to 22 year olds who idolize him, among tjhem many gifted athletes with no chance whatsoever of reaching his financial success. This generation WILL be influenced by "celebrity" choices. (How difficult would it have been to be a little more discreet, Michael??) As a 23 year old he probably doesn't care much right now, but in a short 17 years he will be 40. Regrets–we have them all, but as for doing drugs openly....but who wants their grandchildren to remember them as a drug user in your Wikipedia eulogy??

    February 2, 2009 at 18:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Lauren Conley

    I think he's thinking, what the hey, at least I'm more popular that most people, and he's enjoying having fun. And yet there IS a difference between enjoying the fruit of your labor and having fun. He just screwed over many of the 15 to 22 year olds who idolize him, among tjhem many gifted athletes with no chance whatsoever of reaching his financial success. This generation WILL be influenced by "celebrity" choices. (How difficult would it have been to be a little more discreet, Michael??) As a 23 year old he probably doesn't care much right now, but in a short 17 years he will be 40. Regrets–we have them all, but as for doing drugs openly....who wants their grandchildren to remember them as a drug user in your Wikipedia eulogy??

    February 2, 2009 at 18:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Fred Kopp

    Hey, thanks for the article. I needed a good nap.

    February 2, 2009 at 19:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Fred Kopp

    Maybe he didn't inhale. Worked for Clinton.

    February 2, 2009 at 19:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Elizabeth

    Neil: I did realize the sidebar on that site with those articles. However, I chose to link to it anyway because it would hold more sway than links on a pro-pot site. However, all of those side effects are the result of the smoke, not the pot itself. You could smoke basil (or inhale coal dust or heavy pollution for that matter) and suffer similar consequences. If you can find me a paper based on ingestion or vaporization with the same results I'd love to see it.

    I know alcohol wasn't mentioned, but I think it really helps people think outside the Just Say No box. Just as most people can discern the difference between regular folks who drink to socialize or unwind versus raging alcoholics, it would be nice if society would relax a little and not have such stigma over it. Which is why I'm glad that Michael got caught. Even if he can't make pro-pot statements, his use helps break down the stereotypes around pot. You can use it and still be a winner instead of a loser or a criminal.

    Arturo: Endorphins are great and we should seek them out in healthy natural ways. However, you are assuming that potheads completely exchange one source of endorphins for another and languish on the couch. Most pot smokers I know use it as an Enhancement for life, not an exchange or replacement. Do you believe it is wrong to use alcohol as a social enhancement? At any rate, chocolate is something that produces endorphins that must be injested. What is the moral difference between a double chocolate brownie and a pot brownie?

    Be your own role model for your kids. I'm sure they understand the concept of adults being allowed to engage in activities that children aren't.

    February 2, 2009 at 22:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Erik

    It is undeniable that Phelps is a fantastic athlete that will be unanswered for years to come, but he should have really used his head. I used to smoke pot before, so I am not saying it is the work of the devil or anything. I just don't want my kids to see Phelps as a phenomenal athlete that was able to get away with smoking pot. It is hard enough as it is to try to keep your kids from pot without their idols doing the drug too.

    I understand that its out there and available, but that doesn't mean I want my kids to have any more reason to smoke. With the most respected athlete smoking pot, what can a parent say in the defense of staying clean?

    February 2, 2009 at 23:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. clreaves

    I do not agree that Phelps should be crucified for smoking pot.
    While I do not agree with him doing it, if he was in a country where it is legal, then he has the right to do it.

    Naturally, his sponsors also have the right to enforce “morality” clauses in his contracts.

    No smoking is good, cigarettes, pot or other. Cigarettes, while legal, are a horrible habit. Hurt the smokers and family member’s health. Pot, being illegal, is just that, illegal. Maybe it shouldn’t be, but it is.
    (at least in most of the US)

    All said, at least in rolling his own Phelps did not have to smoke the “ethylene vinyl acetate copolymer emulsion based adhesive” used in the new FSC cigarettes. There has to be something said for not smoking the glue on the back of carpet.

    FYI, i am a smoker.

    February 2, 2009 at 23:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Gavin

    Come on! The guy smoked pot and yes smoking in general is bad for you but of all the things he could be doing....pot is the least of it.

    As for the sponsors, we the public need to lay off of him and let it die down, because God forbid some zealot with a microphone get a hold of this and it is over for him.

    February 3, 2009 at 05:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Michelle H.

    I think this is disappointing not because of the pot smoking but how he will be perceived by the media and by young swimmers/atheletes everywhere. I'm not a pot smoker but I have seen the medicinal use of pot and how it eases the pain for patients. But remember Michael wasn't using it for medical purposes; he was at a college party. Major difference there. Kids will not see it as 'oh pot is good to ease the pain' they will see it as 'Michael phelps hits weed so I should do it too and be like him!' MAJOR DIFFERENCE! So the issue here is not whether pot should be legal/illegal, whether Mike would lose endorsements or if it will ruin his health. The major issue here is how this affects his influence on kids. My worry is the young 12 year swimmers somewhere sitting on the side of a pool, wearing a 'Phelps swim cap', dreaming of the 2016 Olympics and deciding to pick up a bong to 'be like Mike'. Adult pot smokers are fine but what about the kids?

    February 3, 2009 at 08:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. R

    I find it funny that our country views pot in a way that is any different that alcohol. If Phelps had been caught drinking and driving I have a feeling that there would not be any controversy, even though doing so is endlessly more dangerous to himself (not to mention others) than taking a few hits from a bong! Disgusting.

    Anything not done is moderation is bad for you – be it smoking pot, tobacco, drinking booze, or eating doughnuts. I would certainly want my children to smoke a little pot over drinking to get drunk (I have never seen someone almost die from smoking pot – or suffer any negative consequences from their actions actually, but I have seen quite a few almost die from excess drinking when I was in college)- but I would not want them to smoke up all day just as I would not want them to become alcoholics.

    I feel badly for phelps, who is not doing anything different than millions of other kids – being in the spotlight like that must be tough. That being said I have to say it was stupid – I could not imagine doing anything that would jeopardize millions of dollars!!! All he had to do was milk this a few more years and then he could have had a lifetime to be a rich screw-up! I jest, but just like you don't do drugs when your company drug tests, you shouldn't go to crazy parties when you are on a wheaties box!

    February 3, 2009 at 10:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Jon

    He trained his entire life to win a record number of gold medals. The future of his career is his own choice, but I'd say after all those years in a pool let the man smoke and leave him alone.

    February 3, 2009 at 10:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Liz Jorgensen

    I am against the general tide here on your blog. I am therapist specializing in adolescent and young adult substance abuse and every day I see the very real negative impact of cannabis abuse on young people's lives. I find it amazing that bright and educated people who rely on science as a guide for most of the choices in their lives often choose to ignore teh mounting and very real data on how dangerous "weed" is to the brain's development. memory systems and in many cases psychological and social functioning of young users.
    There is a vast cultural denial and delusion that weed is 'harmless' and often it is seen as a 'right of passage' for young people.

    Many of my patients either 'create' a chemical imbalance of seratonina nd dopamine (2 vital brain and body messengers) or in fact are 'self medicating' anxiety disoders, depression or bi polar illness with frequent use of cannabis. While it is true that some people can occasionally smoke weed and appear to not endure major consequences. many young people do become chronic smokers and suffer many negative side effects.
    Why use your own brain in an experiment when the future outcome is unknown ?

    February 3, 2009 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Terry

    Was this the first time he ever smoked pot? If not, and that's probably the case, It doesn't seem to be affecting his athletic ability any. I'm sure he's not the only healthy young man out there who smokes pot. the key here is moderation.

    February 3, 2009 at 16:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. JL Serkes

    This is insane. This whole deal around marijuana. Its an herb. Its a great stress reliever. It should be legalized and regulated like alcohol and prescription drugs. Its so much less harmful than alcohol if not abused. Here is my story. I have not smoked cigarettes pot or alcohol in over 20 years, but I know Pot helped my best friend when she was so stressed out from dying. She could hardly eat soI asked her oncologist for a script for her when she was about two months away from passing away. He had never done it but did. We went to a Med Pot Dispensary and got her the edible kind as she had lung cancer by then from her DNA and spread of Ovarian and breast cancers. She ate a brownie. We went to the movies and she laughed and had a great time. She was relieved and I was so happy that the Dr. found it ok to do this for her. Her last two months were greatly enhanced by its qualities for allowing her to eat, and to relax. Leave Phelps alone.

    February 3, 2009 at 16:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Colin Frazier

    Honestly its a bit stupid that this is being made into such a big deal. Ok, Phelps broke the law and sparked up a doobie, he still won a ton of medals. If Phelps had smoked four cigaretts no one would cared about the damage to his health. It's all being blown out of poportion because marijuana's illegal (even though alcohol is worse). He's only human being, give him a break, the majority of people reading this have smoked plenty of the devils grass

    February 3, 2009 at 17:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Sherry

    I do not think that Michael Phelps suffer too much monetary loss; however, I do believe he has damaged his image as a role model. That said, his immediate acceptance of responsiblity was positive; although I had the cynical thought that it was to placate his sponsors...

    February 3, 2009 at 18:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. GF, Los Angeles

    What people fail to realize is that this is Phelps' break time. He's off from his diet and exercise so if he was to compete right now – he'd more than likely lose. I'm not a pot smoker – never tried it – but I've seen the effects it's had on others. I go to a dance class and one of the guys who attends smokes pot is unable to catch up on the routines because he's high so he often leaves the class before it's over. For practical reasons as an athlete, I would assume Phelps wouldn't smoke anything since it makes it that much harder to get back into shape. I would assume he wouldn't smoke it at all once he starts training again for the very reason that it creates a poor performance like the guy in my class. It's up to the parents to teach their kids about the behavior they want from their children and yes it's hard when they're looking at athletes, celebrities, etc. as role models. If the parents were doing their job, the kids wouldn't be looking for these role models in the first place.

    February 3, 2009 at 19:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Dan Callahan

    You are correct in your thinking. Our society has adopted a new set of beliefs and accepts marijuana as a social tool for relaxation, medical conditions and of course partying. Folks that are in their 40's and above unless they are active pot smokers have no idea what pot is like today.

    The 60's and 70's are over. Pot has changed over the years, the THC levels are staggering. However there are three separate issues: First is the legal issue should pot be legalized? It probably should be legal, we waste tons of money and energy that could be better spent.

    Second is it harmful to your health? You have answered the medical issues.

    Finally there is a difference between the casual user and the addict. It is similar to alcohol, a co-carcinogen , and terrible for our health, but it is accepted as part of society.

    Treat it the same.

    In the case of Phelps, besides my initial thoughts that there may be more serious issues with this kid, first a DWI and now this! There are two other things; it is illegal and that is a challenge. People get fired for using it. Lastly, he is sending a terrible message to our youth!

    Dan Callahan, LMSW
    http://www.TheLastResortPa.com

    February 3, 2009 at 19:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Catherine P.

    Honestly, my own doctor smokes pot. I do not, but my husband does. My husband runs and is very fit. I think that marijuana is FAR less harmful than alcohol and cigarettes.

    Yes any smoke held in the lungs can cause inflammation, but really, a little pot here and there is not a big deal!

    February 3, 2009 at 20:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Jenna

    UGHHHH, once again, people need to get over the Nixon induced propaganda and fear mongering and realise that pot is safer than the legal drugs we have on the market today. I've been around potheads and I've been around drunks;the drunks are far more scary and more likely to hurt themselves and others. What happens when one smokes pot? He gets tired and gigglily. I don't smoke pot, but I also don't drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes. I made that choice for myself. If we are going to allow tobacco and alcohol (which kill millions every year) to remain legal, it is insanity that pot, which is far safer, is legally on the same level as cocaine. Disgusting.
    FYI: I am the mother of two boys and trust me, if the most difficult thing to explain to your children is why an athlete chose to indulge in some pot smoking you must live in a Disney film. How about explaining all of the people being laid off and families being forced into the streets? Or the starving children of the world when we throw away food? Or little girls getting acid poured on them for the "crime" of attended school? There are too many real problems in the world that we don't have to create ones where they do not exist.

    February 4, 2009 at 02:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Crys

    I kindof agree with Andy. It's unfortunate that he chose to try "Pot" but he did own up to it . I know he's in the public eye but for heaven's sake it would be nice if the news and all the tv shows didn't try to crucify him. If it was anyone of those people's child or them they would be backtracking to cover it up. He did a public apology. Not many can do that. Let him have a break.

    February 4, 2009 at 03:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Ijah

    Its obvious that smoking marijuana will destroy all ambitions and goals you have in life and send you on a one way ticket to addiction and self destruction, for an example just look to the horrible and wasted life that M.P is living.

    Harry Anslinger you are so full of it.. 8 gold medals in your face!

    February 4, 2009 at 07:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Brenden Reinhart

    This may be not so much of a valid point, but I look at celebrties such as Snoop Dog and Lil Wayne who are..well, veterans of marijuana, and I never see or hear about them getting any sort of sickness.

    February 4, 2009 at 07:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Douglas

    I am not surprised that so many people seem to suggest that it's Michael Phelps' getting caught that shocks their sensibilities. However, in light of so many leaders, especially in our financial industry, that seem to suffer from the dual personality disorder of good on the outside, but greed or self-indulgence on the inside, you would think that Mr. Phelps' pot smoking would remind us that we have been duped, once again. Yes, Michael Phelps worked hard to become an American Olympic super hero, but neither his hard work nor his Olympic success should should warrant shrugging this off to a youthful indiscretion. Michael's success resulted in the award of numerous commercial endorsements and the respect and admiration of the world. Even at 23 years of age, after a previous DUI, and his elevation to his status, Michael should have some appreciation for the gravity of his actions. Michael should suffer the consequences of his actions. He is certainly not the role model that I would want my children to follow – nor someone whose endorsement would cause me to patronize a particular company. On the contrary, I would be more likely to choose another company.

    February 4, 2009 at 08:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Justin

    This blog is a disgrace.

    "Marijuana smoking causes asthma, chest colds, lung infections and increased heart rate."

    A complete falsity, with the exception of increased heart rate. Truth be told, weed actually improves the efficiency of your lungs. Vaporizing marijuanna eliminates all tar and all carcinogens. Weed is also in no way addictive.

    "A study released last summer compared pot being smoked today with what was smoked back before 1992 and concluded it is 175 percent more potent, resulting in more frequent use and increasing it’s addictive properties."

    The only thing true about this statement is the fact that marijuanna is getting stronger and more potent, like all drugs, precription or otherwise. There is absolutley no proof whatsoever that this results "in more frequent use and [increases] its addictive properties." This is becasue there are no addictive properties in marijuanna to begin with.

    FYI- I smoke weed maybe once a month with a vaporizer.

    February 4, 2009 at 11:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Uncle Whitey

    Pot should be decriminalized. We waste several billion trying to stop its use annually. As a consequence, we help develop dangerous organized crime forces. It should be made legal and taxed like tobacco and alchohol. That will undemine organized crime and force our eforts to control the really dangerous drugs like heroin and crystal meth.

    February 4, 2009 at 12:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. David

    Why are all of you SOOOO disappointed in Phelps? The man made his own decision and is going to have to deal with the consequences, whatever they may be. Worry about yourselves and your own disappointments, if you are going to focus on thoughts of that quality.

    If anything, with all of these "health experts" here, you can see that it is not good for your lungs. Yes, he may be hurting his career, but as previously stated, many prevalent members of our government, administration, and millions of educated, intelligent, Americans smoke pot or have in the past. He has done more at his ripe age than anyone in sports history. I am sure the man was feeling a bit invincible. Plus, he is not going to be a professional swimmer for life. After the next olympics, he will have to find another profession.

    Also, I have a master's in physiology, Arturo, and THC does not interact with any dopamine-related pathways in the brain. This means that you can not physically become addicted to pot, unlike cocaine and heroin. Dopamine brings out our inner reward system. Something feels good, you do it again. It does however, react with paralimbic mechanisms, which associate (not control) with social and mood experiences. Which, in turn, could make you psychologically addicted. However, in Michael's case, I think he is much stronger mentally and has enough confidence in himself that this would not occur.

    Bottom line: his body, his choice, let the consequences flow.

    This whole thing has become a mini-Paris. None of us care about her. None of us care that a famous swimmer smoked pot. AND YOUR KIDS ARE NOT GOING TO SMOKE BECAUSE HE DID!

    February 4, 2009 at 13:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. coffee

    i've gotta hand it to Phelps for being man enough to acknowledge his actions and apologize - he's still a decent role model despite the hypocritical media storm

    February 4, 2009 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. D.Camidge

    To say that cigarettes are safer than marijuana is absurd, can you name one person that has died from lung or throat cancer from marijauna use? Tobacco users consume much more material than even your heaviest cannabis user, which should open your eyes also to the fact that if marijuana is more potent today than grandpas weed, would'nt one need less to achieve the desired affect? There are also safer alternatives to smoking such as vaporizers, you can make tinctures and use it in food. One can even make hashish or kif from marijuana so that the vegative material is removed and only the THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, is smoked. Big difference between a tabacco cigarette pesticide and chemical free grown cannabis.

    February 4, 2009 at 13:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Elizabeth

    FYI, I just had my annual physical. I use daily (but NEVER before/at work) and both my GP and allergist know about it. I am in tip-top shape with above average lung capacity and I rarely get colds. I'm just as healthy as I was for every past physical, using or not. My doctors both said they have no reason to tell me to stop. I graduated cum laude from university and have a great professional job. I am the RULE not the EXCEPTION.

    February 5, 2009 at 15:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Larry

    The fact that pot is more potent since 1992 means the smoker will take less "hits",so less everything,including damage to the body,with the same,or better "buz".Legalize it.

    February 6, 2009 at 08:57 | 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.