This article is from the Hemp / Cannabis / Marijuana FAQ, by Brian S. Julin firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
There are many reasons why it is not. You may have heard
that ``one joint is equal to ten cigarrettes'' but this is
exagerrated and misleading. Marijuana does contain more tar
than tobacco -- but low tar cigarettes cause just as much
cancer, so what is that supposed to mean? Scientists have
shown that smoking any plant is bad for your lungs, because
it increases the number of `lesions' in your small airways.
This usually does not threaten your life, but there is a
chance it will lead to infections. Marijuana users who are
worried about this can find less harmful ways of taking
marijuana like eating or vaporizing. (Be careful --
marijuana is safe to eat -- but tobacco is not, you might
overdose!) Marijuana does not seem to cause cancer the way
tobacco does, though.
Here is a list of interesting facts about marijuana smoking
and tobacco smoking:
o Marijuana smokers generally don't chain smoke, and
so they smoke less. (Marijuana is not physically
addictive like tobacco.) The more potent marijuana
is, the less a smoker will use at a time.
o Tobacco contains nicotine, and marijuana doesn't.
Nicotine may harden the arteries and may be
responsible for much of the heart disease caused by
tobacco. New research has found that it may also
cause a lot of the cancer in tobacco smokers and
people who live or work where tobacco is smoked.
This is because it breaks down into a cancer causing
chemical called `N Nitrosamine' when it is burned
(and maybe even while it is inside the body as well.)
o Marijuana contains THC. THC is a bronchial dilator,
which means it works like a cough drop and opens up
your lungs, which aids clearance of smoke and dirt.
Nicotine does just the opposite; it makes your lungs
bunch up and makes it harder to cough anything up.
o There are benefits from marijuana (besides bronchial
dilation) that you don't get from tobacco. Mainly,
marijuana makes you relax, which improves your health
o Scientists do not really know what it is that causes
malignant lung cancer in tobacco. Many think it may
be a substance known as Lead 210. Of course, there
are many other theories as to what does cause cancer,
but if this is true, it is easy to see why NO CASE OF
LUNG CANCER RESULTING FROM MARIJUANA USE ALONE HAS
EVER BEEN DOCUMENTED, because tobacco contains much
more of this substance than marijuana.
o Marijuana laws make it harder to use marijuana
without damaging your body. Water-pipes are illegal
in many states. Filtered cigarettes, vaporizers, and
inhalers have to be mass produced, which is hard to
arrange `underground.' People don't eat marijuana
often because you need more to get as high that way,
and it isn't cheap or easy to get (which is the
reason why some people will stoop to smoking leaves.)
This may sound funny to you -- but the more legal
marijuana gets, the safer it is.
It is pretty obvious to users that marijuana prohibition
laws are not ``for their own good.'' In addition to the
above, legal marijuana would be clean and free from
adulturants. Some people add other drugs to marijuana
before they sell it. Some people spray room freshener on it
or soak in in chemicals like formaldehyde! A lot of the
marijuana is grown outdoors, where it may be sprayed with
pesticides or contaminated with dangerous fungi. If the
government really cared about our health, they would form an
agency which would make sure only quality marijuana was
sold. This would be cheaper than keeping it illegal, and it
would keep people from getting hurt and going to the
(more tar in smoked marijuana, but claims exaggerated)
``Pulmonary Hazards of Smoking Marijuana as Compared with Tobacco'' by
Tzu Chin Wu, Donald P. Tashkin , Behnam Djahed , Jed E. Rose in ``New
England Journal of Medicine'' Vol. 318 Iss. 6 pp. 347-351. pub., 1988.
(low-tar cigarettes just as carcinogenic)
``The Association of Lung Cancer with Tar Content of Cigarettes'' by
Franz P. Reichsman pub., 1980. (Thesis)
(lung damage from smoking)
``Marijuana Exposure and Pulmonary Alterations in Primates'' by
Suzanne E. G. Fligiel, Ted F. Beals, Donald P. Tashkin, Merle G.
Paule, Andrew C. Scallet, Syed F. Ali, John R. Bailey, William Slikker
Jr. in ``Pharmacology, Biochemistry & Behavior'' Vol. 40 Iss. 3 pp.
637-642. ed. pub., 1991.
``Chronic Marijuana Smoke Alters Alveolar Macrophage Morphology and
Protein Expression'' by Guy A. Cabral, Amy L. Stinnet, John Bailey,
Syed F. Ali, Merle G. Paul, Andrew C. Scallet, William Slikker Jr. in
``Physiology, Biochemistry and Behavior'' Vol. 40 pp. 643-649. ed.
(Lead 210 and N Nitrosamines in tobacco)
Joseph DiFranza in NEJM Vol. 306 Iss. 6 pub. February, 1982. and
responses in Vol. 307 Iss. 5 pub. July, 1982.