New Marijuana Study: The Good, the Bad and the Not so Bad

The newest study on the effects of marijuana will undoubtedly be hotly debated between the stoners selling bongs at Hemp Fest and the folks who still think the 1936 "Reefer Madness" is a serious morality tale. According to The Guardian, a study released yesterday by the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand reports that smoking cannabis bears no correlation to the development of emphysema. But the study did show that smoking one joint is as harmful to the lungs as chain smoking up to five cigarettes. A shorter butt length on marijuana joints, holding in smoke and smoking without a filter contribute to obstructing airways and damaging the lining of the lungs three to five times more than smoking a single cigarette.

For those who haven't followed the scientific community's findings over the past few years (and the amusing verbal thrusts and ripostes of advocates on both sides) here's a quick rundown of the good, the bad and the not so bad in the cannabis medical realm:

The Bad

Reuters reported on a study by British researchers last week linking marijuana to the developing of psychotic illnesses (such as schizophrenia) later in life. The study showed that "marijuana users had a 41 percent increased chance of developing psychosis marked by symptoms of hallucinations or delusions later in life than those who never used the drug." Marijuana has also been linked to a greater risk of depression, according to "The American Journal of Psychiatry." The substance is also believed responsible for "Cheech and Chong's Next Movie" and "Nice Dreams."

The Good

Unlike everyhting else in the world, marijuana has not been cited as a cancer causer. Dr. Tashkin of UCLA published a study, sponsored by the National Insitute on Drug Abuse, in 2006 that smoking marijuana not only does not increase the likelihood of developing lung cancer but may even help prevent it due to the THC in the drug. In May 2007, Dr. Anju Preet of Harvard tested the effects of PHC on lab mice and reported that lung tumor growth was cut in half and the cancer stopped spreading.

The Not so Bad

It's not just an urban legend; marijuana is firmly linked to infertility. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, drastically reduces sperm production in males. A caveat: Smoking blunts is not a viable alternative to using protection.

--David Mashburn

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