The Medical Marijuana Magazine


Why would anyone want to smoke a medicine? Isn't smoking per se bad for you?

"No medicine is smoked." This argument is frequently made by prohibitionists simply to dismiss the subject of medical marijuana. It is also raised by others who recognize that smoking tobacco is the greatest single preventable health risk. When we are engaged in a great crusade against "smoking," it does seem a bit odd to advocate smoking a medicine. However, there are several points about this argument that need to be considered.

  1. Most important: marijuana does not have to be smoked. It can be drunk as a tea, eaten in foods, or inhaled as a vapor. This last point seems to be a surprise, not only to prohibitionists who do not want to know it, but also to conscientious physicians who are genuinely concerned about the effects of smoking on sick people. If marijuana is heated to a point below the point of combustion, the active ingredients vaporize and can be inhaled without the particulates that might irritate the respiratory system. Inhaling either a smoke or a vapor has two very important advantages.

2. Most medical marijuana users do not smoke very much, or for very long, and most of the risks associated with tobacco smoking are cumulative over a period of many years. At the NIH Medical Marijuana Workshop the physicians expressed their concern only about patients with chronic conditions that would require many years of smoking large amounts.

3. Compare the risks of long term smoking with long term intravenous injection. (If medical marijuana should not be smoked because tobacco smoking is bad for you, what do the adverse consequences of IV drug abuse tell us about injecting a medicine? "No medicine should be injected, because junkies are unhealthy?" Both are non-sequiturs, but smoking is less injurious than injecting.)

4. Regardless of the means of administration, the total effects and risks of a medication must be considered. In this regard, marijuana compares favorably in its risks with virtually every other medication.