Study finds that harmful chemicals found in tobacco are also present in marijuana


"marijuana blunt 2000" by Torben Bjørn Hansen is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Harmful chemicals present in tobacco have been discovered in marijuana. Smoking marijuana can have negative repercussions, such as mental illness, for growing teenagers and children.

Anna Hunt, Rooster Reporter

Whether used medically or recreationally, marijuana use in the United States has drastically increased among both adults and teenagers due in part to its continuous, widespread legalization. According to the website Verywellmind, more than 43 million Americans over the age of twelve used marijuana in the last year, making it the most common drug used in the United States.

“Marijuana use is on the rise in the United States with a growing number of states legalizing it for medical and nonmedical purposes – including five additional states in the 2020 election,” said senior author Dr. Dana Gabuzda, a principal investigator in cancer immunology and virology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, according to CNN.

A recent study has shown that individuals who smoke marijuana are exposed to the same types of toxic chemicals found in tobacco smoke.

The participants of the study included 245 HIV-positive and HIV-negative adults chosen due to the fact that the rate of smoking marijuana is higher among those individuals compared to the general population.

Some of the participants only smoked marijuana, others smoked only tobacco, and the rest smoked both marijuana and tobacco.

Harmful chemicals such acrylonitrile and acrylamide, byproducts of tobacco smoking, were found along with several others in elevated levels in the participant’s urine and blood. Acrylonitrile is used in the manufacturing of carpets and fabrics, while acrylamide is used in paper and dye manufacturing. Acrylamide is also found in vegetables heated to high temperatures. These chemicals are attributed to cancer, nerve damage and decreased fertility. 

The participants who smoked tobacco or both tobacco and marijuana were found to have the highest levels of acrylonitrile and acrylamide as well as another chemical called acrolein, which has been known to lead to cardiovascular disease and heart problems in tobacco smokers.

However, in the marijuana-only smokers, elevated levels of acrolein were not present. Although smoking marijuana is not as harmful as smoking tobacco, continuous use of the drug overtime can have detrimental effects on the body, especially in teenagers.

Marijuana use in teenagers can lead to some serious problems such as memory loss, impaired judgement, poor balance, poor coordination and mental illness. In fact, according to Verywellmind, people who use marijuana as a pre-teen or teenager are more likely to develop mental illnesses including anxiety, depression and schizophrenia. 

“I just do not have any interest in it [smoking marijuana],” said a freshman at Reagan.

Teens who smoke marijuana are four times as likely to develop an addiction to the drug compared to adults. Students who smoke marijuana are also more likely to fail and drop out of school compared to their non-using peers.

“I would not smoke because you never know how your future could be affected,” said sophomore Katherine Nolan. “Life is already too short, so do not make it shorter.”

Recreational marijuana use is illegal for teenagers for a reason. There have been harmful chemicals found that adversely affect the human body, and not just in teens but in adults too. However, teenager’s developing brains are more at risk for damaging long-term effects including mental illness and mediocracy in school. Teens in the U.S. need to think carefully about all of the consequences before they make an irrevocable error disguised as a simple blunt.