Study: Smoking Cannabis Doesn’t Carry Same Risks as Smoking Tobacco

1.8 min readPublished On: May 24th, 2023By

LOS ANGELES-New research published in the journal Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases has revealed that cannabis use is not associated with a heightened risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), even among individuals who possess a clinically high risk for the disease. The longitudinal study, led by researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, examined the relationship between cannabis use and COPD development in a cohort of older subjects who were either current or former tobacco smokers.

The study’s findings indicated that neither current nor former cannabis smoking was connected to evidence of COPD progression or the onset of the disease. The authors of the study reported, “In this cohort of ever-tobacco smokers with established COPD or at risk of developing COPD, a history of current and/or former cannabis smoking was not found to have a significantly negative impact on COPD progression.” They also noted that among ever-tobacco smokers without COPD at enrollment, self-reported current or former concurrent cannabis smoking did not result in an increased risk of subsequently developing COPD.

These results align with prior research studies that have concluded that cannabis inhalation, even over the long term, is not positively associated with COPD, lung cancer, or irreversible airway damage. Additionally, the use of vaporization technology, which involves heating herbal cannabis to a temperature below combustion, has been found to reduce exposure to toxic gases and has been deemed a “safe and effective” method of cannabis delivery in clinical trials.

Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML, a nonprofit organization advocating for marijuana law reform, commented on the study, stating, “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 tobacco smoke exposure. They should provide reassurance to cannabis consumers and health professionals alike, and guide future policies based on evidence for crafting public health messages and regulations.”

The study’s abstract, titled “Impact of marijuana smoking on COPD progression in a cohort of middle-aged and older persons,” can be found in the journal Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases. For more information on cannabis exposure and lung health, NORML provides a fact-sheet on the topic.

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