Is Marijuana Worse for You than Cigarettes?

  • Medical Author:
    George Schiffman, MD, FCCP

    Dr. Schiffman received his B.S. degree with High Honors in biology from Hobart College in 1976. He then moved to Chicago where he studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. He attended Rush Medical College where he received his M.D. degree in 1982 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his Internal Medicine internship and residency at the University of California, Irvine.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Prescription Drug Abuse Statistics

Ask the experts

My friends told me smoking cigarettes was less harmful to your lungs than smoking marijuana. Is this true? Is one really any better than the other?

Doctor's response

Cigarettes and marijuana both can damage the lung. In reality, cigarettes probably damage more tissue simply because most people smoke many more cigarettes than they do marijuana. If someone smoked a "pack or two" of marijuana cigarettes every day, like cigarette smokers often do with cigarettes, they would probably end up with a similar degree of damage to their lungs. It is also important to realize that cigarettes are not just paper and tobacco but also many chemical additives so that they burn "properly." Marijuana tends not to contain these chemical additives, but may contain other equally damaging substances placed intentionally or inadvertently in the drug.

Medically reviewed by Robert Bargar, MD; Board Certification in Public Health & General Preventive Medicine

REFERENCE:

"Cardiovascular risk of smoking and benefits of smoking cessation"
UpToDate.com

"Cannabis use and disorder: Epidemiology, comorbidity, health consequences, and medico-legal status"
UpToDate.com


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Reviewed on 8/23/2017

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