In Clearbrook Treatment Centers Massachusetts, Family Resources, Marijuana Drug Abuse, Personal Resources

Second-hand smoke is smoke that’s inhaled by a person who is not smoking but is near the individual who is. While we know that second-hand cigarette smoke can cause health problems, is marijuana second-hand smoke harmful? As more states legalize the recreational use of marijuana, it’s important to fully understand its side effects. Our drug rehab center in Massachusetts is sharing the effects of second-hand marijuana smoke and why it’s more dangerous than you may think. 

What Is Marijuana?

Marijuana – also referred to as cannabis, weed, pot, ganja, and mary jane – is a mixture of dried leaves from the plant Cannabis Sativa. These leaves can be smoked, brewed, or baked into foods. The two main components of marijuana are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the psychoactive component in cannabis that produces side effects like altered senses, an altered perception of time, impaired memory, hallucinations, and delusions. CBD is known to reduce pain, promote sleep, and reduce anxiety. However, more research needs to be done. While many people take CBD alone for its sedative effects without experiencing the high from THC, even smaller amounts of CBD contain THC. Also, despite CBD’s relaxing effects, the levels of THC in cannabis can surpass those of CBD. When too much THC is smoked or ingested, a person may experience adverse side effects like anxiety, paranoia, and terrifying delusions and hallucinations. 

Is Marijuana Second-Hand Smoke Harmful?

Yes, marijuana second-hand smoke is harmful and can be just as impactful as smoking it directly. Second-hand marijuana smoke contains many of the same cancer-causing chemicals that are present in secondhand tobacco smoke. Many cannabis users also tend to mix tobacco with marijuana, which increases the impact of said chemicals and the likelihood of experiencing adverse side effects.  

Some of the most common chemicals found in second-hand marijuana smoke include:

  • Acetaldehyde
  • Ammonia arsenic
  • Benzene
  • Cadmium
  • Chromium
  • Formaldehyde
  • Hydrogen cyanide
  • Isoprene
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Nickel
  • Quinoline

One study found that marijuana smoke had a higher concentration of chemicals like ammonia, nitric oxide, nitrogen oxide, and aromatic amines compared to tobacco smoke.1 These carcinogens and toxins discovered in marijuana are amplified when smoked and are just as harmful to the person inhaling second-hand smoke as they are to the person who’s smoking. 

What Are the Side Effects of Second-Hand Marijuana Smoke?

Many of the toxins and chemicals discovered in marijuana smoke are associated with various respiratory and lung diseases. An individual who inhales second-hand marijuana smoke is also at risk of developing these conditions. 

 Some of the most common health effects of second-hand marijuana smoke include: 

  • Irritation in the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Fever
  • Anemia
  • Weakness
  • Disturbances in blood circulation
  • Nervous system damage
  • Cancers like leukemia 
  • Blood disorders
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Heart disease
  • Weakening of the bones
  • Low blood sugar levels
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Respiratory problems 
  • Brain damage 
  • Lung disease

Hydrogen cyanide is a chemical warfare agent that’s often found in second-hand marijuana smoke. It works by blocking the body’s ability to use oxygen and can cause death within a matter of minutes. While the levels of this chemical aren’t usually high enough to kill someone inhaling marijuana smoke, consistently inhaling second-hand marijuana smoke can deteriorate your health in several other ways. 

Marijuana is not only harmful but addictive. A person who forms a habit of smoking marijuana consistently can develop psychological and physical dependence. Like many other recreational substances, once you start smoking weed you may not be able to stop. Individuals who buy, sell, and smoke weed are also more likely to party often and be surrounded by other drugs and alcohol. Substance abuse often results from casual experimentation when a person isn’t careful. Medical detox is often required in order for individuals who develop addictions to quit. 

If you or someone you know has had a bad experience with drugs or alcohol or has developed a substance abuse disorder, we can help. We incorporate various models of treatment such as the Minnesota model, into our rehab programs and therapies to ensure patients have everything they need to achieve their recovery goals. Call Clearbrook Massachusetts now at 570-536-9621 to learn more about our levels of care.

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