Jeanette M. Tetrault, MD



What are the pulmonary effects of smoking marijuana?

June 01, 2007

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. The prevalence of marijuana use has remained stable over the past several years, with 14.6 million persons older than 12 years reporting past-month use in 2005. Given the prevalence of illicit use and interest in the medicinal use of marijuana, an understanding of the potential negative health consequences of marijuana smoking is needed. While tobacco smoking is clearly associated with numerous adverse respiratory complications, including increased cough and wheeze, the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, and an increased incidence of infections,1-3 the relationship between marijuana and pulmonary disease is controversial, despite similarities in many compounds found in marijuana and tobacco smoke.