A new study has found smoking marijuana isn’t as harmful to the lungs as smoking cigarettes.
Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that occasional marijuana use even improves lung capacity after studying a national database.
The news wasn’t surprising for many people in San Luis Obispo, which was the first city in the nation to ban indoor smoking in public.
“Marijuana feels more relaxing, and I know I’m not destroying my lungs,” said Naomi Rodriguez, who was visiting from Los Angeles.
Similarly, Elaine Simer said as long as it was in moderation, she didn’t see a problem with it.
“If you take a puff every once in a while, I don’t think it’s going to hurt you,” she said.
Phillip Borges, a Fresno resident visiting San Luis Obispo, agreed.
“It helps you work harder, and you don’t get stressed out as easy,” he said. “You don’t get mad at people. You let things go that normally you wouldn’t.”
However, a San Luis Obispo doctor says deciding between smoking marijuana and smoking cigarettes is like choosing between the lesser of two evils.
Dr. Dane Howalt says think twice before you light up to calm down, even if it’s for medical reasons.
“When was the last time your doctor told you to smoke your medicine?” he said.
He says it’s not surprising the smoke from marijuana is less toxic than the smoke from cigarettes.
“In terms of overall being safer or less of a health problem, it isn’t hard to be less of a health problem than cigarettes,” he said.
Howalt says he could see the benefits of medical marijuana if there was a standardized oral form of it, but smoking anything isn’t good.
“You can phrase something in such a way to make it sound like a certain substance is actually much better than something else, and therefore, that would mean it was good,” he said.
The evidence in the study wasn’t strong enough for researchers to recommend marijuana as a treatment for better lung health. Experts also say using marijuana increases the risk for heart attack and can impair the immune system.