While smoking marijuana may have recently been legalized, one shouldn’t conclude that it is necessarily healthy.
For individuals who treat lung cancer patients in the states of Washington and Colorado, the recently passed legislations raise serious concerns. Ironically, this happened on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the first US Surgeon General Report by Dr. Luther Terry in January 1964, which concluded that lung cancer is causally related to cigarette smoking. This report had followed decades of warnings by so-called common sense alarmists who had identified this as a major public health issue but who lacked the data to fully support their claims.
It is estimated that, in the US, we saw just over 225,000 new cases of lung cancer in 2012, 80 to 90% of these occurring in active or former cigarette smokers. That year, close to 160,000 American men and women died of their lung cancer. In the state of Washington alone, about 4,200 new cases were diagnosed. These numbers are quite disheartening considering the links that were clearly established and disseminated in the 1964 report and subsequently validated by a multitude of others since. This clearly shows that legal does not guarantee healthy.
Additionally, there is a 20-year lag in between the time when a population starts smoking and the time when the incidence of lung cancer begins to increase. In reverse, it takes 20 years before a decrease in consumption of cigarettes leads to a drop in the incidence of lung cancer.
Having recognized that clear link between tobacco and lung cancer, we are often asked if such a relationship exists with marijuana use as well...