Scientists are finding “convincing evidence” that marijuana can damage DNA and even cause certain forms of cancer.
These revelations are more than alarming, considering that Alaska, Oregon, Colorado, Washington and the city of Washington, D.C. have all legalized marijuana for recreational use, while all the previously mentioned states plus 19 others have legalized forms of marijuana for medical use.
Cause for Serious Concern
Researchers in Sweden concede that cannabis smoke contains only 400 compounds compared to 4,000 carcinogens in tobacco smoke.
The important thing to remember, however, is that these numbers do not make marijuana a safer option.
“Because of its lower combustibility, it contains 50 percent more carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons including naphthalene, benzanthracene, and benzopyrene, than tobacco smoke,” says the study’s lead researcher Rajinder Singh.
Smoking, Inhaling, Increased Quantity
Plus, the nature of smoking marijuana is that the inhaled smoke is held longer in the lungs than cigarette smoke, the research team adds. With all things considered, the possibility of damaging DNA increases exponentially, as the amount of marijuana smoked increases.
“The smoking of 3-4 cannabis cigarettes a day is associated with the same degree of damage to bronchial mucus membranes as 20 or more tobacco cigarettes a day,” the Swedish research team adds.
A Look at Use Among Teens
In the meantime, results of the University of Michigan’s 2014 Monitoring the Future survey are out and show no significant increase in marijuana use among teens. According to the report, past month use of marijuana held steady at 6.5 percent among 8th graders, 16.6 percent among 10th graders and 21.2 percent among 12th graders.
There are two particularly worrisome results of the 2014 MTF Survey:
- As marijuana use has declined, the perceived risk of harm in using marijuana has also decreased, which could signal a future spike in usage. Among high school seniors, only 36.1 percent say that regular use puts the user at great risk compared to 52.4 percent.
- Teens consuming edible marijuana have increased, particularly in medical marijuana states (40 percent in medical states vs. 26 percent in non-medical states in the last year).
The Future of THC in America
The upcoming 2016 election will likely see several more states putting forward their own versions of marijuana legalization bills.
Experts predict, as a nation, we will continue to see old attitudes and beliefs about the dangers of marijuana shift as more constituencies vote to legalize marijuana for medical purposes and for small-time recreational purposes. What may get lost in the shift, however, is the information about the potential harm ingested marijuana smoke can cause.
Learn more about the signs and symptoms of marijuana abuse.
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