Marijuana smoke
Now that marijuana is legal in Santa Monica, I smell it everywhere. Not only when walking outside, but even when I open my windows, I smell it wafting in from nearby apartments.
It seems many people have a mistaken attitude that, while secondhand tobacco smoke is deadly, secondhand “medical marijuana” smoke is neutral or even beneficial. But consider these facts, which I quote from the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation website:
• Secondhand smoke from combusted marijuana contains fine particulate matter that can be breathed deeply into the lungs, which can cause lung irritation, asthma attacks, and makes respiratory infections more likely. Exposure to fine particulate matter can exacerbate health problems, especially for people with respiratory conditions like asthma, bronchitis or COPD.
• Significant amounts of mercury, cadmium, nickel, lead, hydrogen cyanide and chromium, as well as three times the amount of ammonia, are found in mainstream marijuana smoke than is in tobacco smoke.
• In 2009, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment added marijuana smoke to its Proposition 65 list of carcinogens and reproductive toxins, also known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. It reported that at least 33 individual constituents present in both marijuana smoke and tobacco smoke are Proposition 65 carcinogens.
• Secondhand smoke from marijuana has many of the same chemicals as smoke from tobacco, including those linked to lung cancer.
• Secondhand marijuana exposure impairs blood vessel function. Published studies on rats show that 30 minutes of exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke at levels comparable to those found in restaurants that allow cigarette smoking led to substantial impairment of blood vessel function. Marijuana smoke exposure had a greater and longer-lasting effect on blood vessel function than exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.
• One minute of exposure to marijuana SHS substantially impairs endothelial function in rats for at least 90 minutes, considerably longer than comparable impairment by tobacco SHS. The findings in rats suggest that SHS can exert similar adverse cardiovascular effects regardless of whether it is from tobacco or marijuana.
• Secondhand marijuana smoke and secondhand tobacco smoke are similar in many ways. More research is needed, but the current body of science shows that both tobacco and marijuana smoke have similar chemical composition and suggests that they may have harmful cardiovascular health effects such as atherosclerosis (partially blocked arteries), heart attack and stroke.
• These and other facts can be found at
Considering the above, perhaps Santa Monica should be as vigilant in regulating secondhand marijuana smoke as it is with tobacco.
Thomas Sipos
Santa Monica