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Although marijuana use might help reduce the symptoms of certain medical conditions, it also may cause harmful e ects depending on how o en it is used. ere is clear evidence that regular use of marijuana increases the risk of heart, lung, mental health problems, and some types of cancer. Less is known about health issues that might be caused by casual or infrequent marijuana use.

Marijuana smoke includes many of the same chemicals as tobacco smoke, including many of the chemicals that have been linked to cancer. As with alcohol and tobacco, there is no “safe” level of marijuana use during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Even for healthy adults, there is no risk-free method of marijuana use. However, some methods of use may decrease the risk of some of the harmful health e ects.

Is sMokIng MArIjUAnA sAFe?

Marijuana smoke irritates the lungs. Frequent marijuana smokers can have many of the same problems as tobacco smokers, such as a daily cough, mucus, more chest colds and a higher risk of lung infection. Some of the cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco smoke are also in marijuana smoke. Marijuana smokers may inhale deeper and hold the smoke in their lungs longer. So, marijuana smokers’ lungs may be exposed to more chemicals that can cause cancer. Lung tissue from regular marijuana users shows signs of pre-cancerous changes. However, several studies have failed to show that marijuana smokers have a higher risk of lung cancer. More studies about marijuana smoking and lung cancer are needed.

Is vApIng or vAporIzIng sAFer thAn sMokIng MArIjUAnA?

Vaporizers heat marijuana to release its active ingredients without burning. As with water pipes or bongs, there has not been enough research to know if using a vaporizer is safer than un ltered smoking of marijuana. Some research shows that vaporizers lower the amount of potentially harmful tars in smoke. Other studies have shown fewer respiratory symptoms among those using vaporizers. However, a recent study has shown that vaporizing marijuana can lead to toxic levels of ammonia in the vapor. Ammonia can cause lung irritation, nervous system e ects and asthma attacks. As there are many di erent types and models of vaporizers available, more research is needed to measure the chemicals produced by vaporizing marijuana and marijuana extracts.

Marijuana and Methods of Use

pg. 1 of 2

is fact sheet was developed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

For questions about marijuana and health, call (303) 692-2700 or e-mail

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