In 2016, the use of recreational and medical marijuana was legalized in more places than ever. Along with the new laws and regulations of the drug, new studies and research have been released, revealing how harmful secondhand marijuana smoke is and its effects.
In the US, Maine joined seven other states in legalizing recreational use of the drug while more than half of the states have legalized its use for medicinal purposes. As more states legalize its use, others have begun legal process to continue with the trend.
Outside of the US, Canada and Uruguay both approved the legalization and regulation of marijuana last year while Germany, Australia and Jamaica approved the medicinal use of the drug. South Africa alongside 20 other countries have also begun exploring the benefits of the drug to start passing legislation, and drug reform laws have changed as studies have found medicinal benefits from the use of it.
Benefits of marijuana include:
- Treatment of muscle spasms
- Brain-related conditions like dementia
- Gastrointestinal disorders and more.
- Control of epileptic seizures
But while the medical benefits of cannabis are being discovered, so are the disadvantages of the drug.
It’s very common to hear about secondhand smoke from tobacco, but little has been said about the effects of secondhand marijuana smoke. According to researchers, the psychoactive chemicals in the drug can produce “the high” from inhaling the smoke.
In a study conducted by Dr. Karen Wilson, children who had been exposed to marijuana had traces of the drug in their urine. Other studies involving cannabis have found that its active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC, can cause developmental problems for babies whose mothers were exposed to marijuana while pregnant.
According to another study conducted at the University of California, marijuana smoke is also more damaging on the circulatory system than tobacco. Scientists were able to measure the effects of it by observing the blood flow in rat arteries. Researchers blocked the blood flow in a large artery and measured the “flow-mediated dilation” after the block was removed. This was done before and after the rats were exposed to the drug. The results prove that the second-hand cannabis smoke impaired the blood vessels.
Many researchers concerned with the drug’s harmful effects find it difficult to study it; laboratories are unable to conduct clinical trials without getting permission – since marijuana is still illegal under federal law. Therefore, studies on the use of marijuana are very limited and controlled.
While the use of cannabis has been proven to be beneficial, research to study second-hand marijuana smoke will hopefully keep developing to inform people of the risks and dangers of the drug.
By Laura Romero