- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 20, 2018

One minute of exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke can impair blood flow in the body for about 90 minutes, worse than a half-hour of restricted blood flow caused by secondhand tobacco smoke, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Despite conventional wisdom that inhaling smoke from burning materials is bad for a person’s lungs and body, there are misconceptions about the risks associated with secondhand marijuana smoke compared to tobacco smoke, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco wrote in their paper.

To test this, the researchers exposed rats to both types of smoke and measured their endothelial function, the rate at which blood vessels dilate to accommodate increased blood flow.

The scientists used marijuana that was free of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in the plant, to counter any increased effects the cannabinoid might have on blood vessels.

Since the marijuana secondhand smoke had a greater negative impact than the cigarette smoke, the researchers summarized that other elements of the products, either the type of plant or its specific makeup, is responsible for the greater adverse health effects.

While public health efforts have raised awareness of the dangers of secondhand cigarette smoke, the same outcry has not been observed for marijuana smoke, which is becoming increasingly mainstream across the country, the researchers wrote.

“It is important that the public, medical personnel, and policymakers understand that exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke is not necessarily harmless,” they wrote in the conclusion. “Our findings suggest that SHS should be avoided whether the source is tobacco or marijuana.”

• Laura Kelly can be reached at lkelly@washingtontimes.com.

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