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Let’s Clear the Air About Secondhand Marijuana Smoke

Picture this: You’re at a friend’s house and someone lights up a cigarette. Sitting next to her, you inhale the secondhand smoke for one minute. Over the next half-hour, your blood vessels are affected by the smoke, impaired as they recover from the exposure.

Now picture this: You’re at a friend’s house and someone lights a joint. Sitting next to this person, you inhale secondhand marijuana smoke for 60 seconds. For the next 90 minutes, your blood vessels are affected by the smoke.

Time Isn’t on Your Side

These are the shocking results discovered by a group of researchers examining the effects of secondhand marijuana smoke. Admittedly, the studies involved rats rather than humans, but our systems are similar enough to make comparisons.

The immediate effects of secondhand marijuana smoke are temporary, but continued and prolonged exposure can turn these short-term problems turn into long-term ones.

Damage done by pot smoke increases your chances of developing hardened or clogged arteries, which can cause a heart attack or stroke. In the long run, it’s a 90-minute impairment from which our systems never fully recover.

Researchers report many people mistakenly believe marijuana smoke is harmless. While we’ve heard about the dangers of secondhand tobacco smoke for years, secondhand marijuana smoke has never really been considered a “threat.” No one’s been telling us to avoid it because no one had completed the research to determine its adverse effects.

Now we know.

Worse Than Cigarette Smoke?

Secondhand marijuana smoke isn’t only harmful, it’s more damaging than tobacco smoke. To protect the long-term health of our heart and lungs, we need to avoid exposure. Interestingly, studies show it’s the burning of plant material that causes impairment to our blood vessels, not the THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) or the rolling paper. Bottom line: You can’t simply change those factors and enjoy harmless smoke.

The increase in legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana makes this issue even more serious. As its use becomes more acceptable, secondhand marijuana smoke becomes harder to avoid and the health consequences must be considered as policies are put in place.

Image Source: iStock

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