Marijuana use has been linked to respiratory diseases such asChronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)and recurrent lung infections. The effects are dose-related: the more marijuana smoked, the higher the risk of respiratory disease.
Additionally, secondhand marijuana smoke has been linked to serious breathing problems and lung disease, especially among children exposed to marijuana in closed settings.
Effects of smoking marijuana on the respiratory system
The effects of smoking marijuana on the lungs are similar to the effects of smoking on the lungs. You may experience more severe effects if you smokebothMarijuana and cigarettes.
progressive lung disease
Changes in your lungs may occur as a result of long-term marijuana use, which can lead to the following symptoms:respite, Cough, expectoration, shortness of breath. These symptoms are often exacerbated by physical exertion, an effect often described as exercise intolerance.
Over time, the effects of marijuana use can become long-lasting and severe. Long-term marijuana use has been linked to several lung diseases,include:
- emphysema:In addition to emphysema (damage to the air sacs in the lungs), marijuana use increases the risk of a serious condition called bullous emphysema. Bullae are air pockets that develop in the lungs due to rupture of lung tissue. When these air pockets rupture, a pneumothorax (collapsed lung) may result.
- bronchitis:Lung damage caused by marijuana can cause inflammation. Inhalation of marijuana can cause acute bronchitis lasting days or weeks, or chronic, long-term bronchitis.
Damage caused by marijuana may cause permanent changes in the structure of the lungs, which may cause or exacerbate one or more types of COPD.
The chemicals inhaled while smoking marijuana can damage the protective cilia in the lungs.Therefore, long-term smoking may lead to frequent and severe lung infections. These may be accompanied by fever, loss of appetite and weight loss.
COPD itself makes you more prone to repeated lung infections, so smoking marijuana while you have this lung disease will only make you more vulnerable.
marijuana toosuppress your immune system, making you prone to lung infections or other types of infections (such as skin or ear infections).
What about medical marijuana?
Currently, medicinal marijuana is not considered harmful to the lungs. Generally, medical marijuana is used in lower doses.Additionally, many people who use medical marijuana choose to ingest THC and CBD through tinctures or foods rather than smoking.
Medical Marijuana Uses
Smoking marijuana was previously thought to be a safer route of intake than smoking, but a new lung disease linked to the practice has called that into question.
as. . and be knownE-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI), a condition linked to liquid vaping products, can cause breathing difficulties that can lead to hospitalization and even death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 80 percent of EVALI patients report using THC vaping products, many of which contain vitamin E acetate or medium-chain triglycerides.After testing a variety of chemicals (including nicotine, THC, CBD, opioids, additives, pesticides, poisons, heavy metals, and toxins) in various vaping liquids used by patients, researchers definitively identified vitamin E acetate as Esters are associated with this condition.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises against vaping and vaping products that contain THC, especially from informal sources such as friends, family, brick-and-mortar or online resellers. There simply isn't enough research to be sure about safety.
Smoking marijuana flower with a dry herb vaporizer does not appear to pose the same risks as liquid THC vaping products, which early studies have found to be a safer alternative to vaping marijuana.However, more research is needed to confirm the safety of dried vanilla e-cigarettes.
Diagnosis of Cannabis-Induced Lung Disease
It can be difficult to know if your lung symptoms are related to marijuana use and/or if your lungs have suffered long-term damage from other causes. If you develop symptoms of lung disease, your medical team may order diagnostic tests to help identify the problem.
If you are diagnosed with cannabis-induced lung disease, you may need to start medication or surgery.
Even if you don't experience respiratory symptoms, some diagnostic tests can identify early lung disease, which can help guide your decision to use marijuana. Be honest with your healthcare provider about your drug use.
lung function test
Typically, a pulmonary function test (PFT) is used to assess how well you are breathing. These tests measure how much air you breathe in (breath in) and breathe out (breath out), and how much air your lungs can hold. These values often change due to lung disease.
Your lung function can be measured bySpirometer—The device you use to inhale and exhale according to specific instructions. A spirometer regularly measures the amount of air you exhale and inhale.
- Forced Vital Capacity (FVC):The amount of air you can exhale from your lungs after breathing in as deeply as possible.
- Forced Expiratory Volume in One Second (FEV1):The amount of air that can be exhaled in one second.
Your healthcare provider may also determine yourForced expiratory volume1/forced vital capacity ratio.
PFT for assessing lung function
Imaging studies and lung biopsy
You may also need x-rays,Computed Tomography (CT), orMagnetic resonance imaging (MRI)Examine your chest and lungs to identify respiratory problems.
These tests can show signs ofpneumonia(lung infection) or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. They can also be used to help determine the cause of a lung infection that does not improve with treatment,lung cancer, or difficult-to-diagnose lung disease.
In some cases, you may need to have aBronchoscopy, which is an interventional imaging test. This way, your healthcare provider can place a camera into your breathing tube to watch your lungs.
you may also need alung biopsy, which is surgically collecting a sample of tissue so it can be examined under a microscope.
Types of Lung Biopsy
a word from vivel
Smoking is by far the strongest risk factor for the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Smoking marijuana and vaping liquid THC products are also strong risk factors for acute lung problems and severe, life-threatening chronic lung disease. Although smoking is an important risk factor for lung cancer, the link between smoking and lung cancerCannabis and Lung CancerIt's not well established yet.
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed research, to support the facts in our articles. read ourediting processLearn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
Posis A, Bellettiere J, Liles S, et al.Indoor marijuana smoke and children's health。previous page with representatives。 2019；14：100853。 doi:10.1016/j.pmedr.2019.100853
Tan WC, Bourbeau J, Aaron SD, et al.The Effects of Marijuana Smoking on Lung Function in the Elderly。european respiratory journal. 2019;54(6):10900826. Number: 10.1183/13993003.00826-2019
Underner M, Urban T, Perriot J, Peiffer G, Harika-Germaneau G, Jaafari N.Spontaneous pneumothorax and emphysema in cannabis users。Rev Pneumol Clin。2018；74(6):400-415。 doi:10.1016/j.pneumo.2018.06.003
Volkow, ND, Baler, ND, Compton, ND, Weiss SR, WS.Adverse health effects of marijuana use。New England Journal of Medicine。 2014；370(23):2219-2227。 doi：10.1056/NEJMra1402309
Tashkin DP.Effects of smoking marijuana on the lungs。Ann Arm Thoracic Society.2013；10(3)：239-247。 doi:10.1513/AnnalsATS.201212-127FR
American Lung Association.Cannabis and Lung Health。
Josh M, Josh A, Bart T.Marijuana and Lung Disease。Current medical opinion.2014；20(2)：173-179。 doi:10.1097/MCP.0000000000000026
Krishnasamy VP, Hallowell BD, Ko JY et al.Update: Characterization of a nationwide outbreak of lung injury associated with e-cigarette or vaping product use - United States, August 2019 to January 2020。MMWR Morb Mortal Weekly Rep。 2020；69(3)：90-94。 doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6903e2
Navon L、Jones CM、Ghinai I等人。Risk factors for e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) among adults who use e-cigarettes or vaping products - Illinois, July-October 2019。MMWR Morb Mortal Weekly Rep。 2019；68(45):1034-1039。 doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6845e1
Blount BC、Karwowski MP、Shields PG 等。Vitamin E acetate in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid has been associated with EVALI. N England Journal of Medicine.2020；382(8):697-705。 doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1916433
Earleywine M，Barnwell SS。People who smoke marijuana have fewer respiratory symptoms。Harm reduction J. 2007;4(1):11. Number: 10.1186/1477-7517-4-11
go throughDeborah Leed, RN
Deborah Leader RN, PHN is a RN and medical writer with a focus on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Check out our editorial process
Meet our Board of Medical Experts
Was this page helpful?
Thanks for your feedback!
What is your feedback?
Smoking marijuana could be more harmful than people realize, a new study suggests. Chest scans show marijuana smokers may be more likely to develop inflamed airways and a certain type of emphysema than people who puff away on traditional cigarettes.Does smoking marijuana cause interstitial lung disease? ›
Reports of cannabis-associated interstitial lung disease are few and far between. There are occasional reports of eosinophilic pneumonia (as with smoking generally) and a case of pneumoconiosis associated with talc-adulterated marijuana .What is considered heavy marijuana use? ›
“Generally speaking, heavy use refers to daily or near-daily use of cannabis at an amount sufficient to lead to intoxication,” Dr. Perdue says. “When a person continues to use cannabis on a regular basis for months or years, we describe that as chronic or prolonged.”What percentage of marijuana smokers get emphysema? ›
In study, 75% of marijuana smokers had emphysema vs. 67% in tobacco-only smokers.Is it possible to clean lungs after smoking? ›
Lungs are self-cleaning organs that will begin to heal themselves once they are no longer exposed to pollutants. The best way to ensure your lungs are healthy is by avoiding harmful toxins like cigarette smoke and air pollution, as well as getting regular exercise and eating well.Is smoking marijuana bad for pulmonary fibrosis? ›
Medical cannabis and its cannabinoids have been shown to improve the severity of pulmonary fibrosis. Pulmonary fibrosis is considered both a complication and a type of lung disease. Patients with pulmonary fibrosis may notice shortness of breath upon exercising and a chronic dry cough.What is the disease associated with marijuana? ›
Cannabis hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) is a condition caused by long-term cannabis (marijuana) use. People who have CHS experience recurring episodes of nausea, vomiting, dehydration and abdominal pain, with frequent visits to the emergency department.Can shortness of breath from smoking be reversed? ›
Within the first month after you quit smoking, your lung function will improve, and this will increase circulation, too. Within nine months, the cilia begin to function normally and symptoms like coughing and shortness of breath become less frequent.What is a safe amount of marijuana to use? ›
Experts recommend starting off with 2.5 mg of THC, which is one-half of the research standard. They suggest not exceeding 40 mg of THC per day. It is important to remember that THC concentrations can vary considerably between products and depending on how the cannabis is ingested.What are the three grades of marijuana? ›
For the most part, cannabis plants can be grouped into one of three different types: indica, sativa and hybrids. You can further divide each of these types into many different strains, but any strain falling under the broad banner of an indica plant will tend to share similar characteristics.
If you're smoking every day or multiple times a day, then you are most likely considered a heavy user. However, if you only occasionally, you may not be considered a heavy user. There is no specific definition of what constitutes heavy marijuana use. It can vary from person to person.What illnesses are cured by marijuana? ›
- Alzheimer's disease.
- Appetite loss.
- Crohn's disease.
- Diseases affecting the immune system like HIV/AIDS or Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Eating disorders such as anorexia.
Cannabis hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) is a condition caused by long-term cannabis (marijuana) use. People who have CHS experience recurring episodes of nausea, vomiting, dehydration and abdominal pain, with frequent visits to the emergency department.