Health Risks

Secondhand Pot Smoke Found in Kids’ Lungs

If you’re a pot-smoking parent and you think your kids aren’t affected, think again.

New research found evidence of secondhand marijuana smoke exposure in nearly half of children whose parents smoke the drug.

“While the effects of tobacco smoke have been studied extensively, we are still learning about marijuana exposure,” said researcher Dr. Karen Wilson, from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

“What we found in this study is that secondhand marijuana smoke does get into the lungs and little bodies of young children,” Wilson said in a school news release.



WebMD. “Secondhand Pot Smoke Found in Kids’ Lungs” 19 November 2018 Web. 15 January 2019 


Headlines bring up more marijuana – related behavioral issues

Amanda Bynes made headlines last week, sharing her story for the cover of Paper Magazine.  Her optimistic tale of recovery repeats in People Magazine, which published portions of the interview. Amanda admitted that she began drug abuse starting with marijuana, age 16.  She continued pot use and also used Molly, Ecstasy and Adderall.



Parents Opposed to Pot. “Headlines bring up more marijuana – related behavioral issues” 3 December 2018 Web. 8 January 2019 


Where There’s Smoke… Vaping, Marijuana, and COPD

The use of marijuana for medicinal purposes has been a topic of controversy throughout the medical and political worlds for decades.

While marijuana, also known as cannabis, has been used for thousands of years in healing and treatment, it’s currently illegal in many U.S. states.

Regardless of its legal status, the question remains as to whether smoking marijuana is harmful to our lungs, especially for people living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

In the last several years, many people with sensitive lungs have turned to vaping with the idea that it’s a safer smoking experience. But is vaping safer than smoking?


Healthline. “Where There’s Smoke… Vaping, Marijuana, and COPD” 9 November 2018 Web. 11 December 2018

Marijuana use linked to increase risk of strokes: study

New research is being presented at a conference in Montreal Friday linking recreational cannabis use with an increased risk of stroke.

The study, being outlined at the World Stroke Congress, looked at five years of hospital statistics from the United States.

Researchers found the incidence of stroke rose steadily among marijuana users, even though the overall rate of stroke remained constant over the same period.

The study examined 2.3 million hospitalizations between 2010 and 2014 among people who used cannabis recreationally.


Global News. “Marijuana use linked to increase risk of strokes: study” 19 October 2018 Web. 6 December 2018

Chronic pot use may have serious effects on the brain, experts say

As marijuana legalization builds momentum across the United States — with Michigan becoming the latest state to allow recreational use by adults — researchers are warning that more studies are needed on the long-term effects of chronic pot smoking on the human brain.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States, but little is known about its effect on health or how addictive it is.


INBC News. “Chronic pot use may have serious effects on the brain, experts say” 11 November 2018 Web. 29 November 2018

UICOMP Study on Synthetic Cannabinoids Featured in New England Journal of Medicine

A research article detailing a central Illinois poison outbreak involving synthetic cannabinoids earlier this year and the therapy provided is featured in the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

A study involving 34 patients at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center between March and April of 2018 were identified as having synthetic cannabinoid-associated bleeding disorders. Of those patients tested, superwarfarin, a lethal class of toxins, and more specifically, brodifacoum, commonly used to kill rats, was confirmed present in all. Symptoms were controlled with vitamin K replacement therapy. One patient in the series report died from complications of spontaneous brain hemorrhage. While the study reported on 34 patients, over 100 cases were reported in the Peoria/Pekin area.


The University of Illinois College of Medicine. “UICOMP Study on Synthetic Cannabinoids Featured in New England Journal of Medicine” 27 September 2018 Web. 20 November 2018

Secondhand Marijuana Smoke

Health risks of exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke: Peer-reviewed and published studies do indicate that exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke may have health and safety risks for the general public, especially due to its similar composition to secondhand tobacco smoke.

  • Secondhand smoke from combusted marijuana contains fine particulate matter that can be breathed deeply into the lungs, which can cause lung irritation, asthma attacks, and makes respiratory infections more likely. Exposure to fine particulate matter can exacerbate health problems especially for people with respiratory conditions like asthma, bronchitis, or COPD.
  • Significant amounts of mercury, cadmium, nickel, lead, hydrogen cyanide, and chromium, as well as 3 times the amount of ammonia, are found in mainstream marijuana smoke than is in tobacco smoke.
  • In 2009, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment added marijuana smoke to its Proposition 65 list of carcinogens and reproductive toxins, also known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. It reported that at least 33 individual constituents present in both marijuana smoke and tobacco smoke are Proposition 65 carcinogens.
  • More Risks

No Smoke. “Secondhand Marijuana Smoke” Web. 12 November 2018

One Minute of Marijuana Secondhand Smoke Exposure Substantially Impairs Vascular Endothelial Function

One minute of exposure to marijuana SHS substantially impairs endothelial function in rats for at least 90 minutes, considerably longer than comparable impairment by tobacco SHS. Impairment of FMD does not require cannabinoids, nicotine, or rolling paper smoke. Our findings in rats suggest that SHS can exert similar adverse cardiovascular effects regardless of whether it is from tobacco or marijuana.

NCBI. “One Minute of Marijuana Secondhand Smoke Exposure Substantially Impairs Vascular Endothelial Function” 27 July 2018 Web. 6 November 2018

Cannabis May Be Worse for Teen Brains Than Alcohol

Exactly what does marijuana do to a young person’s brain?

A new study in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggests that cannabis may actually have a more negative impact on teens’ cognitive development than alcohol.

The study’s results put up a warning sign to teens that regular use of marijuana, for instance, could have long-lasting effects on their brains.

Health Line. “Cannabis May Be Worse for Teen Brains Than Alcohol” 11 Oct 2018 Web. 30 October 2018

What are the effects of secondhand exposure to marijuana smoke?

People often ask about the possible psychoactive effect of exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke and whether a person who has inhaled secondhand marijuana smoke could fail a drug test. Researchers measured the amount of THC in the blood of people who do not smoke marijuana and had spent 3 hours in a well-ventilated space with people casually smoking marijuana; THC was present in the blood of the nonsmoking participants, but the amount was well below the level needed to fail a drug test. Another study that varied the levels of ventilation and the potency of the marijuana found that some nonsmoking participants exposed for an hour to high-THC marijuana (11.3 percent THC concentration) in an unventilated room showed positive urine assays in the hours directly following exposure; a follow-up study showed that nonsmoking people in a confined space with people smoking high-THC marijuana reported mild subjective effects of the drug—a “contact high”—and displayed mild impairments on performance in motor tasks


The National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What are the effects of secondhand exposure to marijuana smoke?” June 2018 Web. 23 October 2018

Breast-Feeding Mothers Should Avoid Marijuana, Pediatricians Say

Marijuana is more widely available than ever, but what does it do to babies?

There’s no answer to that yet, but nursing mothers are being warned to avoid it: Traces of the drug can show up in breast milk, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that gets people high, can be detected in breast milk up to six days after use of the drug, according to a study published on Monday by the journal Pediatrics.


The New York Times. “Breast-Feeding Mothers Should Avoid Marijuana, Pediatricians Say” 27 August 2018 Web. 16 October 2018

What are the mental health risks of marijuana use?

There are correlations between cannabis use and mental health issues, but studies have yet to show causation. The more provable consensus is that people who are already at risk of mental health issues are more likely to suffer adverse effects from cannabis use. Though cannabis is not a physically addictive substance in the way tobacco or harder drugs are—withdrawal symptoms are minimal—it is possible to develop a dependency. The risk of dependence among those who use cannabis is nine percent compared to 16 percent for alcohol. But that risk almost doubles for people who begin consuming as teenagers.


Macleans. “What are the mental health risks of marijuana use?” 17ju September 2018 Web. 9 October 2018


Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “Marijuana and Pregnancy – A Dangerous Mix” 30 May 2018 Web. 27 September 2018

Marijuana Users Grossly Underachieve

Dr. Drew W. Edwards: All the independent, peer-reviewed research confirms what I and other experts have observed for years. Cannabis users significantly underachieve in education, their careers, and have significant problems with their most significant relationships. Two recent and eye-opening studies published in the medical journals Addiction, and Neuropharmacology respectively reveal gross deficits in cognitive ability (IQ) executive functioning, attentiveness, inhibition of impulsiveness and motivation.

What the Studies Reveal

In a large prospective study, approximately 1900 adolescent were followed and evaluated for 10 years. The results were clear, definitive and shocking. Marijuana users were three times more likely to be unemployed or have dropped out of school compared to non-users.


Parents Opposed To Pot. “Marijuana Users Grossly Underachieve” 18 July 2018 Web. 30 August 2018.

The teen years are a time of rapid growth, exploration, and onset of risk taking. Taking risks with new behaviors provides kids and teens the opportunity to test their skills and abilities and discover who they are. But, some risk behaviors—such as using marijuana—can have harmful and long-lasting effects on a teen’s health and well-being.

Unlike adults, the teen brain is actively developing and often will not be fully developed until the mid 20s. Marijuana use during this period may harm the developing teen brain.

Negative effects include:

  • Difficulty thinking and problem solving.
  • Problems with memory and learning.
  • Impaired coordination.
  • Difficulty maintaining attention.

Center For Disease Control and Prevention. “What You Need to Know About Marijuana Use in Teens” 13 April 2018. Web. 23 August 2018.

Marijuana and Spice Use Can Affect an Embryo’s Brain

Smoking today’s high-potency marijuana or using synthetic forms of weed can be dangerous during pregnancy. Researchers suggest that it may damage the developing embryo’s brain as early as two weeks after conception. For this reason, if you are pregnant or planning to get preagnant, you might want to avoid smoking pot.

Earlier studies which showed no adverse effects of smoking marijuana for pregnant women were conducted with smokers of “traditional” marijuana, according to researchers at Texas A&M University. But today’s strains of bioengineered weed can contain up to 20 times more THC.

Furthermore, the fake weed products known as K2 or Spice contain highly potent TCH analogs or synthetic cannabinoids. These are 500 to 600 times more potent than THC.


VeryWell Mind. “Marijuana and Spice Use Can Affect an Embryo’s Brain” 16 July 2018. Web. 21 August 2018.

Recreational cannabis, used often, increases risk of gum disease

Columbia University dental researchers have found that frequent recreational use of cannabis — including marijuana, hashish, and hash oil — increases the risk of gum disease.


Science Daily. “Recreational cannabis, used often, increases risk of gum disease” 24 May 2018. Web. 7 August 2018.

Ahead of legalization, doctors warn pregnant women of cannabis risks

With the legalization of cannabis only a few months away, one of Canada’s top medical organizations is warning women about the risks the drug poses if used during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

According to the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, marijuana use can lead to preterm birth and low birth weight, as well as lower IQ and hyperactivity after a child is born.

“We want to make sure women understand just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s safe,” said Jocelynn Cook, chief scientific officer with the SOGC. “The science does suggest there are effects on pregnancy and on fetal development.”


The Globe and Mail. “Ahead of legalization, doctors warn pregnant women of cannabis risks” 29 June 2018. Web. 2 August 2018.

Is marijuana causing mental issues in teens?

Frequent marijuana consumption may have serious long-term mental health consequences for teens, a 2018 a study from JAMA Psychiatry suggests.

Researchers from the University of Montreal in Canada found frequent marijuana use may increase teen psychosis. The results suggest connections between the use of cannabis with psychosis symptoms in the 3,720 teenagers tested.


Advocate Health Care. “Is marijuana causing mental issues in teens?” 21 June 2018. Web. 19 July 2018.

Marijuana and Cocaine Use in Young MI Patients Linked to Mortality Risks

A new statewide study examines cocaine and marijuana use in patients presenting with MI [Myocardial infarction]. One in 10 patients age 50 or younger at the time of first MI have a recent history of cocaine and/or marijuana use, and individuals with this history have worse long-term survival than nonusers, new data show. Given the increasing legalization and use of marijuana, the researchers say more efforts are needed to identify users and convey the seriousness of the cardiovascular risks involved.

“There’s been a lot of data for a long time that cocaine is bad for the heart in various ways and that it is associated with increased mortality, but there is much less data available about marijuana despite its increasing use in the population,” said Ersilia M. DeFilippis, MD (Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA).


tctMD. “Marijuana and Cocaine Use in Young MI Patients Linked to Mortality Risks” 4 June 2018. Web. 21 June 2018.

Prenatal marijuana use can affect infant size and behavior, study finds

As regulations crack down on the dangers of cigarette smoke, a new study is warningSmoking during pregnancy has well-documented negative effects on birth weight in infants and is linked to several childhood health problems. Now, researchers at the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions have found that prenatal marijuana use also can have consequences on infants’ weight and can influence behavior problems, especially when combined with tobacco use.


SciemceDaily. “Prenatal marijuana use can affect infant size, behavior, study finds” 10 May 2018. Web. 7 June 2018.

Marijuana recreational use and its dangers

Delta-9-tetrahydro-cannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive that is a mind-altering ingredient in marijuana and is responsible for the majority of the effects of using marijuana. THC is a highly lipid soluble, which means that it can cross the blood-brain barrier and reside in certain body tissues for extended periods of time up to 30 days.

When looking at heavy recreational marijuana use, there are adverse effects on cardiovascular health in some individuals, including the development of new onset arrhythmia and even heart attacks. Additionally, heavy and or long-term marijuana use can have negative effects on certain neurologic functions, and these consequences have been reportedly quite long term, if not irreversible. Cognitively, marijuana may diminish the user’s ability to:

  • Reason.
  • Use short-term memory
  • Learn new tasks.

On a molecular level, marijuana affects the formation of new connections between neurons, which is essential to the cognitive tasks mentioned above.

Marijuana use at a young age, that is 18 years and below, is also correlated with episodes of psychosis later in life, and there has been historical mention in the literature of a possible “cannabis psychosis” that can accompany years of heavy use. The respiratory system may also be affected by marijuana abuse. Similar to tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke is a lung irritant.

From my experience as a psychiatrist, the use of marijuana increases the incidents of mental disorder. The benefits of use versus the risk of problems are incomparable. True, not everybody who uses it will become ill but you do not know your risk level. The recent move is regrettable. We will help those who need our help and more people will need marijuana detox and rehab services.


The Herald. “Marijuana recreational use and its dangers” 17 March 2018. Web. 29 May 2018.

Marijuana Use is Linked to Increased Suicide Risk

Daily marijuana use below age 18 is connected to 7x the risk of attempted suicide before age 30. In today’s world, students have challenges even if they don’t abuse substances.  Marijuana is the most likely drug of abuse for teens. Any substance abuse –marijuana, alcohol, opiates, other drugs, or a combination – generally makes the depression more difficult to overcome.

The town of Pueblo, Colorado has had an alarming trend of suicides among its teens, at least five this year. Although local officials link these deaths to bullying, Pueblo is infiltrated with marijuana and other drugs. Dr. Steven Simerville, head of pediatrics at a Pueblo hospital, has spoken about the connection between marijuana and teen suicide.   In October 2016, he said that all but one of teens who attempted suicide had THC in their toxicology reports.

Suicide rates in Colorado have reached all-time highs, according to a recent report by the Colorado Health Institute. Each one of Colorado’s 21 health regions had a suicide rate higher than the national average.


Parents Opposed to Pot. “Marijuana Use is Linked to Increased Suicide Risk” 9 March 2018. Web. 24 May 2018.

Ultra Potent Pot: Growing Risks and Impacts

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (a division of the National Institute of Health) has released studies showing the use of marijuana has wide-ranging negative health effects. Long-term marijuana consumption impairs the ability of T-cells in the lungs’ immune system to fight off some infections.

These studies have also found marijuana consumption impairs short-term memory, making it difficult to learn and retain information or perform complex tasks; slow reactions time and impairs motor coordination; increases heart rate by 20-100% thus elevating the risk of heart attack. It alters moods, resulting in artificial euphoria, calmness, or in high doses anxiety or paranoia. And it gets worse…Marijuana has toxic properties that can result in birth defects, pain, respiratory system damage, brain damage and stroke.

Consumption of marijuana impairs the immune system, short-term memory loss, elevates the risk of heart attack, respiratory system damage and brain damage. There is strong evidence to suggest that legalizing marijuana would serve little purpose other than to worsen the state’s drug problems.

The scientific literature is clear that marijuana is addictive, per the NIDA study, and its use significantly impairs bodily and mental functions. Marijuana is associated with memory loss, cancer, immune system deficiencies, heart disease and birth defects, among other conditions. Even where decriminalized, marijuana trafficking remains a source of violence, crime and social disintegration.

Marijuana advocates have had some success peddling the notion that marijuana is a soft drug, similar to alcohol, and fundamentally different from “hard” drugs like cocaine or heroin. It is true that marijuana is not the most dangerous of the commonly used drugs, but that is not to say that it is safe. Indeed, marijuana shares more in common with the “hard” drugs than it does with alcohol.

Officials should not overlook what may be the greatest harms of marijuana legalization including but not limited to; increased addiction to and use of harder drugs. In addition to marijuana’s harmful effects on the body and relationship to criminal conduct, it is a gateway drug that can lead users to more dangerous drugs. Prosecutors, judges, police officers, detectives, parole/probation officers and even defense attorneys know that the vast majority of defendants arrested for violent crimes test positive for illegal drugs, including marijuana. They also know that marijuana is a starter drug of choice for most criminals. It is impossible to predict the precise consequences of legalization, but the experiences of places that have eased restrictions on marijuana are not positive.

Smart Colorado. “Ultra Potent Pot: Growing Risks and Impacts.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 17 July 2017. Web. 24 July 2017.

The Effects of Cannabis Among Adults With Chronic Pain and an Overview of General Harms: A Systematic Review

The use of medicinal cannabis has become increasingly accepted in the United States and globally. Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational purposes, and 28 states and the District of Columbia have legalized it for medical purposes. Between 45% and 80% of persons who seek medical cannabis do so for pain management. Among patients who are prescribed long-term opioid therapy for pain, up to 39% are also using cannabis. MORE

Shannon M. Nugent, PhD; Benjamin J. Morasco, PhD; Maya E. O’Neil, PhD; Michele Freeman, MPH; Allison Low, BA; Karli Kondo, PhD; Camille Elven, MD; Bernadette Zakher, MBBS; Makalapua Motu’apuaka, BA; Robin Paynter, MLIS; Devan Kansagara, MD, MCR. “The Effects of Cannabis Among Adults With Chronic Pain and an Overview of General Harms: A Systematic Review.” 15 August 2017. Web. 17 August 2017.

The EPA Won’t Regulate Harmful Pesticides in Marijuana Crops

The Environmental Protection Agency is in charge of regulating pesticides and other chemicals used on agricultural products. But it turns out there’s one crop that they don’t care if it’s poisoned: Marijuana.

Since it is illegal at the federal level, the EPA does not regulate the use of pesticides and other chemicals on marijuana plants. MORE

Civilized. “The EPA Won’t Regulate Harmful Pesticides in Marijuana Crops.” 9 August 2017. Web. 9 August 2017.

The World’s First Cannabis Genetic Test Can Tell You How Your Body Will React to Marijuana

What if a test could tell you that you may have a negative reaction to pot before you ever smoked your first spliff? What if this same test could tell you if you’re likely to develop a habitual smoking problem? What if you could perform this test in your own home? MORE

Merry Jane. “The World’s First Cannabis Genetic Test Can Tell You How Your Body Will React to Marijuana.” 9 August 2017. Web. 9 August 2017.

Marijuana Users 3X Likely to Die from High Blood Pressure, Study Claims

Marijuana users are 3.42 times likely to die from high blood pressure (hypertension) than non-users, according to a study by researchers from Georgia State University. However, the study got limitations, including the definition of marijuana users and non-differentiation of marijuana strains. MORE

“Marijuana Users 3X Likely to Die from High Blood Pressure, Study.” 14 August 2017. Web. 14 August 2017.