Two recent studies suggest that heavy cannabis users may be at greater risk of chronic lung disease – including cancer – compared to tobacco smokers.
One study found a higher risk of lung cancer for those who smoked one joint a day compared with those who smoked 20 cigarettes a day over the same period.
Heightened risk may be connected to the fact that the cannabis smoker inhales more deeply and for longer, increasing the amount of carbon monoxide.
Both studies come at a time when the UK government is considering whether to change the laws on the possession of cannabis.
Steve Rolles, spokesman for the campaign group Transform Drug Policy Foundation, reminds us that inhaling smoke from any burning object is intrinsically harmful. Policy should focus more on educating people about the risks of smoking the drug as opposed to taking it using other methods.
The studies appear in Respirology and the European Respiratory Journal.