Is Second Hand Cannabis Smoke a Health Hazard? - RxLeaf

Is Second Hand Cannabis Smoke a Health Hazard?

Emily Robertson
vaping beautiful woman in fall forest

Studies have shown that cannabis smokers do not have an increased risk for lung cancer, but what about the health risk for people standing by and breathing in second hand smoke?

It is widely accepted that second hand tobacco smoke is unhealthy. But what about cannabis smoke? With legalization spreading across the globe, are we about to face a new health taboo? There are city bylaws in place in most regions that use the same formula for cannabis smoke as  it does for tobacco smoke: not in parks, not on government owned property, 20 feet away from any entrance. Is this necessary?

Smoking Cannabis a beautiful woman laughing

Image Credit: Canna Obscura

A  study, conducted by Dr. Matthew L. Springer at the University of California, investigated this exact question. They exposed one group of rats to secondhand cannabis smoke, and the control was given clean air. Researchers were trying to understand how smoke affects ‘flow-mediated dilation’ of arteries. This happens when blood flow in an artery is blocked, then unblocked, and the vessel must respond by expanding to allow blood through.

The rats that were exposed to cannabis smoke showed a disruption in flow-mediated dilation. Even 1 minute of secondhand cannabis smoke exposure showed impaired effects 90 minutes later. Considering the toxins found in smoke of any kind, this did not come as a surprise to Dr Springer’s team. And that’s any kind of smoke from burning any kind of plant matter.

Close up of lit joint smoking

Image Credit: Jan Havlicek

It’s not the cannbinoids that are the problem. The incomplete combustion of any organic material produces toxins that can be harmful to a living body. Is vaping a safer solution?

Well, yes, and no.

Vaporizers and vape pens do offer a cleaner smoke over a rolled joint, but that’s just a relative risk. If you want to compare second hand smoke of vape versus rolled, then yes, vaping is safer. But, is that safety absolute? Nope. Anytime you incompletely combust plant material, you are going to be exposed to toxins.

vaping beautiful woman in fall forest

Image Credit: Vladee

If you need to worry about secondhand smoke, because you are around children, the elderly, or asthmatics, then edibles, oils, and tinctures are a better choice. These are all great, clean ways to consume. But they can offer different effects, so make sure you start low with doses and go slow.

Cannabis is good for you; smoke is bad. There is not way around it, until someone invents a suitable device that filters out toxins from the smoke.






Emily Robertson

Emily Robertson has been writing freelance and contract work since 2011. She has written on a variety of topics, including travel writing of North America and the growing legalized cannabis industry across the globe. Robertson has a master’s degree in literature and gender studies, and brings this through in her writing by always trying to explore different perspectives. Born and raised in southwestern Ontario, Robertson moved to Glasgow, Scotland in 2016 to undergo her doctorate in Scottish Literature. She lives in the West End with her dog, Henley.

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