Does smoking pot cause cancer?

Published on April 27, 2019 by David Wylie

After years of anti-cigarette smoking messages, “the juxtaposition” of legalizing cannabis smoking is striking some as jarring, says Jenn Peltz, a cannabis beat reporter with the Associated Press.

She recently reported about the differences between pot and tobacco, as the U.S. continues down the path of legalization.

“As more states make it legal to smoke marijuana, some government officials, researchers and others worry what that might mean for one of the country’s biggest public health successes: curbing cigarette smoking,” she wrote.

Peltz cited a sweeping federal assessment of marijuana research that has found the lung-health risks of smoking weed appear “relatively small” and “far lower than those of smoking tobacco.”

The 2017 federal report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine rounded up nearly two decades of studies on cannabis. It suggests there’s no link between cannabis smoking and lung cancer.

However, there is evidence to show a link to worse coughs and more frequent bouts of chronic bronchitis.

Vaping is still considered by many to be safer than smoking cannabis, but there are some concerns due to the lack of long-term studies.

Cannabis as cancer medicine

Cannabis is sometimes used in pill form to help curb some of the symptoms cancer patients suffer.

The Canadian Cancer Society says cannabis can help patients relax and have a sense of well-being.

“Several studies have shown that some cannabinoids can relieve nausea, vomiting or both. These are side effects of some cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation therapy,” says the society.

It can also help patients regain their lost appetites and ease pain.

Conducting research has been tricky due to the restrictions imposed by laws in Canada and the U.S. that have put weed in the same category as heroin. Legalization is a boon to researchers who can now delve more easily into questions around cannabis.

“More research is needed to find out the dose and type of cannabis that helps the most with the fewest side effects, the risks and benefits of using medical cannabis for a long time and how medical cannabis might interact with other drugs used to treat cancer,” says the society.

Studies are now being conducted on topics like cannabis and concussions, as well as cannabis and sexuality.