To hear scientists, advocates, and reformers talk, marijuana may be nothing short of a wonder plant. It’s great for the sick, it can help fight addiction, and it could prevent Alzheimer’s disease – even cancer.
But that doesn’t mean weed is right for everyone and her grandmother. Lots of people try pot once and quickly decide it’s not their bag. Others toke to improve their health, then move on. And some never even touch the stuff, knowing in advance that the experience could go bad.
So who, then, shouldn’t smoke up? Here’s a basic guide, but don’t consider it exclusive. If you think the weed hurts more than it helps, it’s probably time to take a break. In any event, do some research before you decide to start or stop.
People with respiratory issues
First, respiratory issues. Marijuana smoke, like any smoke, irritates the lungs and the airways. There is minimal evidence, at most, that this smoke causes cancer, but we do know it can lead to chronic bronchitis and aggravate existing respiratory problems.
This is especially true for people with asthma. Some patients with severe allergies may also need to avoid grass. And anyone with emphysema, lung cancer, or other serious breathing disorder should never inhale smoke of any kind.
Thankfully for all these people, we have something called edible marijuana. Those who cannot tolerate smoke can simply cook their weed and eat it, or drink it. They can even vaporize it, inhaling hot vapor instead of smoke, though this method can still cause some irritation.
Any stoner with more than a 10th grade reading comprehension knows weed isn’t lethal. There has never been a credible report of a person dying strictly because they consumed THC – no matter how much they may have consumed. But sometimes pot can mix with an underlying health condition and contribute to a death.
People with heart conditions
That’s why those with diagnosed heart conditions – heart or artery disease, arrhythmia, or erratic blood pressure, among others – should usually avoid marijuana altogether. There is some evidence suggesting that cannabis use can increase the likelihood of a heart attack, but the data are conflicted at best.
People with mental illness
Likewise, it’s almost impossible to find reliable data on the interplay between weed and mental illness. Doctors generally discourage patients with serious mental disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, from using pot.
But many of these patients report the drug eases their symptoms, including anxiety, depression, and severe mood swings. There is evidence that grass aggravates psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, but it’s limited.
If you have a mental illness, at least talk with your physician about your marijuana use. If you really believe it helps more than it hurts, no one outside of law enforcement is going to stop you. But we’re not experts on health; your doctor is.
Those with certain responsibilities
Of course, there are other people who should probably stay away from the sticky. Anyone who drives a truck or a bus or a tank should definitely abstain, as should people who are routinely responsible for the safety of children.
It’s also best to skip that bong rip if you wear a badge. We have nothing against cops who like to spark, at least not at a social level, but you shouldn’t get to bust heads over weed while you’re smoking the stuff at home.
And lest we forget, there’s one group almost everyone agrees shouldn’t get their hands on cannabis: kids. That first J in high school may be a rite of passage, but it’s not up to adults to make it happen. Plus, while marijuana is rarely addictive, sometimes it is, and this isn’t a habit you want your daughter to cement while she’s still in pigtails.