Smoking cannabis is not associated with developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to new research.
The longitudinal study, “Impact of Marijuana Smoking on COPD Progression in a Cohort of Middle-Aged and Older Persons,” was led by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles. The results found that “… neither former nor current marijuana smoking of any lifetime amount was associated with evidence of COPD progression or its development.”
The research, published in the journal Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases, studied 1,863 participants over the course of three-plus years. The participants, all of whom were between 40 to 80 years old, were divided into subgroups of current cannabis smokers, former cannabis smokers, or never cannabis smokers, as well as no tobacco smoking history or more than 20 years of tobacco smoking history.
Among those with more than 20 years of tobacco smoking history who have COPD or are at risk of developing COPD, the research found that “a history of current and/or former smoking of marijuana of any cumulative lifetime amount was not found to be associated with a significantly deleterious impact on progression of COPD.”
Similarly, among those with the same tobacco smoking history who did not have COPD at study enrollment, the research also found “self-reported current and/or former concomitant marijuana smoking, including heavy marijuana smoking, was not found to be associated with an increased risk of subsequently developing COPD.”
The researchers did note, however, that more research is needed to better understand the long-term effects of cannabis smoking and its relation to developing COPD.
Paul Armentano, deputy director at NORML, a nonprofit cannabis advocacy group, said these research results should guide health professionals and legislators better understand and regulate cannabis.
“These results are consistent with decades worth of data finding that cannabis smoke exposure is not associated with the same sort of deleterious pulmonary impact as is tobacco smoke exposure,” Armentano said in a statement. “They should be reassuring to cannabis consumers and to health professionals alike, and they should help to guide future policies with respect to the crafting of evidence-based public health messages and associated regulations.”