– Fadlo Khuri, M.D., oncologist
According to the latest Monitoring the Future report, more than 40 percent of 12-graders have experimented with marijuana. In fact, it is the most commonly-abused illegal drug. While parents, teachers and physicians have been warning kids about pot for years, new information shows it’s even more dangerous than we thought.
Andrew was 14 years old when he first tried pot.
“I didn’t even inhale it all the way, I just took it into my mouth, but I loved the taste. I knew that I liked it,” says Andrew Wolpa, 18.
From there he experimented with alcohol, painkillers, mushrooms and almost every drug -- except one.
“I never smoked cigarettes because those things will kill ya, you know,” says Wolpa.
But according to a study by the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, smoking one marijuana joint is equal to smoking five cigarettes at the same time.
“This latest study shows that you have destruction of lung tissue, reduction of lung vital capacity and a decreased ability to exhale if you smoke marijuana. What’s probably the most disturbing part of this latest article is that it shows that a cigarette is really much less potent than a joint of marijuana,” says Fadlo Khuri, M.D., oncologist.
And he says smoking pot can lead to emphysema and lung cancer.
“That’s a real problem because we only cure about 15 to 17 percent of all the people who present with lung cancer nowadays. So this is a disease in which you have a 1-in-6 chance of surviving it for five years or longer,” says Khuri.
Khuri says that talking about painful and serious diseases is one way to persuade kids not to use marijuana.
“Confronting them with the data, showing them what the outcomes are with lung cancer and emphysema, with what some individuals would consider even moderate marijuana or cigarette use,” says Khuri.
Andrew says even though he’s in rehab, he’s not ready to quit.
“I don’t want to be clean yet. I’m not there,” says Wolpa.
Tips for Parents
From the Nemours Foundation:
Marijuana is typically smoked in cigarettes (joints or spliffs), hollowed-out cigars (blunts), pipes (bowls), or water pipes (bongs). Some people mix it into food or brew it as a tea.
Marijuana is just as damaging to your lungs as cigarettes – and some reports show that it is even worse. Steady users suffer coughs, wheezing, frequent colds, and respiratory infections, such as bronchitis.
There are more than 400 known chemicals in marijuana. A single joint contains four times as much cancer-causing tar as a filtered cigarette. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services