Recently published studies overturned some long-held beliefs about the harmful effects of certain food groups, many of us are now setting our eyes on how our daily routines — from exercise to the favorite food we take to the weed we vaporize — could affect us in the long run, rather than focusing on what gives us momentary pleasure and relief.
Now that saturated fats are not as dangerous and that eating eggs every day is not that bad as what previous researchers claimed, you might also wonder whether prolonged use of marijuana by using oil or dry herb vaporizers is not that bad at all.
In this article, we shed light on some of the reasons why the answers to this question might be tricky at best, and how other existing studies may ultimately help us see the real score.
When Vaporizers Began to ‘Hit’ the Mainstream
It wasn’t until the beginning of this decade that vaporizers have become the new buzz across the United States. And the trend shows that it was only the beginning of 2010 when word searches for best vaporizers, vape pens, portable vaporizers and many others began to soar and have reached their peak since 2013.
So it makes sense that because only four years have passed since the number of vaporizer users has soared unprecedentedly — thanks in part to the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington and in part to the growing consciousness of Americans toward health and well-being — long-term studies have yet to ultimately answer these very essential questions.
But instead of waiting for the results to either discredit marijuana or hopefully, elevate the herb’s status, it would be wise to turn to existing studies on the effects of prolonged marijuana use. After all, what’s in that vapor are just the active ingredients found in cannabis such as THC and other cannabinoids.
Long-Term Effects of Marijuana Use
The thing about marijuana is that its effects on one person are not necessarily similar to the other. But now that the legalization of recreational marijuana has already taken place in Colorado, Washington and eventually, in other states in the future, we may now begin to establish more in-depth research on the long-term effects of THC and other cannabinoids.
Now, here is an interesting study conducted by researchers at Duke University. Research findings show some evidence that links long-term use of marijuana to decreased IQ among New Zealanders who started using cannabis during adolescence. And to make matters worse, some studies also link prolonged use of marijuana to impaired learning, concentration, and memory.
But a few months later, the same study was criticized, particularly the methodologies used. Reanalysis of the data at the Ragnar Frisch Center for Economic Research in Oslo revealed that socioeconomic factors might have contributed to a lower IQs observed among long-term marijuana users.
In addition, several other studies suggest that those who use marijuana beginning adulthood are less likely to have impaired cognitive functions even when using the drug for many years.
Regardless of the results of the research, recent technology in medical testing and scanning such as fMRI will one day shed light on the effects of marijuana on the brain. But so far, people who use marijuana have reported better overall health conditions especially those who use it to treat pain and other medical conditions.
When Studies are Scarce, Look to The Pot Users for Long-Term Effects!
So, what do we do when research findings are inconclusive and that more follow-up studies need to be done? We turn to the very people who have used the drug to share their own experiences.
Just recently, The Cannabist released an article featuring a 2013 study in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers discovered that 92 percent of medical marijuana patients surveyed in California reported that medical marijuana worked for them, improving their medical conditions such as arthritis, migraine, chronic pain and even cancer.
In California alone, adults claim that they had used medical marijuana for a “serious medical condition.” Also, the drug is used at the same rate in both genders, and that young adults comprise the largest population of medical marijuana users.
That an overwhelming 92 of users who report overall improvements in their well-being mean that marijuana is indeed working. What makes this finding significant is that medical marijuana in California was legalized in 1996 — almost 20 years ago. So far, so good for the 92 percent!
Thus, it is safe to say that we can classify this herb in the same way as other therapeutic plants, which are used and even exploited by pharmaceutical companies to treat certain medical conditions. As more and more states in the U.S. gear toward the legalization of recreational marijuana, we will begin to see more derivatives of this drug to combat certain types of medical conditions such as cancer, epileptic seizures, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis and many others.
Why a Sharp Increase of Marijuana Users is Good
In the United States alone, the number of individuals who admit to smoking pot has risen from about 14 million in 2007 to more than 18 million in 2011, according to a report released by the US Department of Human Health and Services.
So, why is this good news?
The sharp increase in the U.S. is evidence that marijuana has no serious or even deadly consequence. The fact that more people are easily influenced to use cannabis is that they themselves have witnessed the positive effects the drug in other individuals.
In 2012, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco found that smoking a single joint every day for 20 years might just be safe without serious health hazards. While many critics pointed out the weakness of the study design and the small sample size, others believe that indeed, the link between marijuana and any serious medical conditions does not exist at all. In fact, many believe that marijuana even has anti-cancer properties.
Another study conducted in 2008 suggested the seemingly counterintuitive effects of smoking marijuana. Here researchers have observed the reduced risk to tobacco-associated lung cancer among those who smoke marijuana.
When Marijuana Use Becomes Dangerous (Long-Term or Short-Term)
Notwithstanding the debate between the supporters of recreational marijuana and the conservatives, one thing is certain though. THC and other psychoactive compounds found in cannabis should not be mixed with alcohol. We already know that marijuana is safer than alcohol, but combining them would worsen the effects of alcohol and may seriously impair the user’s psychological and physical state.
At Smokazon, although we believe that legalizing recreational marijuana would pave the way to highlight the benefits of this drug among those who need it, we also support certain regulations to control the possible abuse of this drug especially when mixed with alcohol. There have already been a number of cases involving accidents related to have the use of both alcohol and cannabis. In the end, the freedom to choose the best route to overall well-being is what we advocate.
How to Maximize the Health Benefits of Marijuana
In time when the effects of prolonged marijuana use is even in question, we could not be more proactive in supporting the use of vaporizers over smoking joints. At this point, we already know that burning plant materials produces hundreds, if not thousands, of toxins that could contribute to a higher risk of cancer and other respiratory and pulmonary diseases.
One study has shown that smoke from marijuana contains 20 times the amount of ammonia as compared to that found in cigarette smoke. Another toxin found in smoke, acetaldehyde, is a well-studied carcinogen that’s also found in both marijuana and tomato smoke. There have seen studies that link malignant tumors to exposure to this highly carcinogenic chemical. Other harmful materials found in marijuana smoke are carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide and tar. And each of these chemicals has its own sets of harmful effects to the human body.
Vaporizing cannabis, on the other hand, is by far the safest way to ingest the active compounds found in it because of the absence of combustion, hence the absence of the toxic byproducts. Whether you prefer a dry herb vaporizer or those that support concentrates, what matters is that you benefit from the full potential of marijuana because you only get the purest of the compounds from the plant itself.
Vaporizers: The Game Changer
Because the use of vaporizers, particularly vape pens and the portable models, has just become popular in the past four years, we are very excited to see the transition from the old fashioned way of smoking weed to be healthier way of vaping.
We’ve seen through research that majority of marijuana users in California have benefited from the use of this wonder drug. If many of these users were smoking joints instead of vaporizing (exposing themselves to harmful toxins) and yet have reported improved health, how much more will they benefit if they throw away those rolls of paper and start using vaporizers!