Pulmonary hazards of smoking marijuana as compared with tobacco.
To compare the pulmonary hazards of smoking marijuana and tobacco, we quantified the relative burden to the lung of insoluble particulates (tar) and carbon monoxide from the smoke of similar quantities of marijuana and tobacco. The 15 subjects, all men, had smoked both marijuana and tobacco habitually for at least five years. We measured each subject's blood carboxyhemoglobin level before and after smoking and the amount of tar inhaled and deposited in the respiratory tract from the smoke of single filter-tipped tobacco cigarettes (900 to 1200 mg) and marijuana cigarettes (741 to 985 mg) containing 0.004 percent or 1.24 percent delta 9-tetrahydrocanabinol. As compared with smoking tobacco, smoking marijuana was associated with a nearly fivefold greater increment in the blood carboxyhemoglobin level, an approximately threefold increase in the amount of tar inhaled, and retention in the respiratory tract of one third more inhaled tar (P less than 0.001). Significant differences were also noted in the dynamics of smoking marijuana and tobacco, among them an approximately two-thirds larger puff volume, a one-third greater depth of inhalation, and a fourfold longer breath-holding time with marijuana than with tobacco (P less than 0.01). Smoking dynamics and the delivery of tar during marijuana smoking were only slightly influenced by the percentage of tetrahydrocanabinol. We conclude that smoking marijuana, regardless of tetrahydrocannabinol content, results in a substantially greater respiratory burden of carbon monoxide and tar than smoking a similar quantity of tobacco.
Wu, TC; Tashkin, DP; Djahed, B; Rose, JE
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