The Journal of Adolescent Health states that vaping cannabis may pose a larger risk of lung harm to adolescents than smoking cigarettes and marijuana together or even vaping nicotine products.

Researchers found that among the roughly 15,000 adolescents who reported regular use of e-cigarettes, cigarettes, or cannabis, those who vape marijuana are roughly twice as likely to experience respiratory symptoms like wheezing.

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The other groups did experience some respiratory symptoms, primarily dry cough, but not to the same extent as the marijuana e-cig users.

Risk of Lung Damage

Rather than being harmless, symptoms like dry coughs and throat irritation from vaping marijuana are really warning signs of long-term damage to the lungs. Among them were:

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  • Having a dry cough at night that isn’t caused by a chest infection or disease.
  • Disruption of one’s rest is experienced.
  • A wheezing noise during exercising or afterward.
  • Whining makes it difficult to speak.
  • Chest wheezing and whistling.

It came as a shock to the study’s authors that vaping marijuana was worse than vaping nicotine for aggravating respiratory problems.

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This in no way excuses the harmful effects of vaporizing nicotine or smoking tobacco or cannabis. Those do cause signs of lung damage. On the other hand, if you vape marijuana, your symptoms could be more severe.

It’s conceivable that some of the symptoms are due to the fact that the study didn’t account for people who used both cigarettes and vaped marijuana.

A Lot More Than Just Young Adults

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Previous research suggests this effect may be an issue for adults as well, while the current study only looked at individuals 12 to 17 years old. About 600 adults participated in a study published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, and those who vaped marijuana within the previous year experienced much more respiratory problems.

Wheezing and whistling in the chest appeared to be the most common symptom, as in the adolescent study, although participants also experienced wheezing during or after exercise and dry coughing at sleep. 

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Marijuana vaporizers, according to the study’s primary author, have a far higher relationship with respiratory difficulties than nicotine vaporizers.

He also notes that it is unclear whether or not these effects will persist over time. As vaporizers and e-cigarettes have just been available to the public for the past decade or so, the long-term effects of using either are still up in the air. That’s bad news since it suggests the situation may deteriorate worse.

Possible Case of Popcorn Lung

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Neither the new study nor the other ones explored the reasons why vaping marijuana would be more hazardous to lung health, although one plausible explanation could be the link to THC oil. This oil is extracted from cannabis and is sometimes mixed with vitamin E acetate to create vape juice.

Nearly three thousand cases of “popcorn lung,” as the CDC calls the condition induced by inhaling the chemical, have been reported. Even though the number of injuries is decreasing after state health officials raised the alarm in late 2019, the CDC still advises against using e-cigarettes containing THC.

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There may be additional substances that are irritating to lung tissue even if a product doesn’t contain vitamin E acetate. More study is needed to determine which components are responsible for this impact, but in the meanwhile, parents, and kids should be aware that marijuana vapor isn’t “safer” than nicotine e-cigs or tobacco cigarettes.

Research suggests that in e-liquid form, cannabis could be even more hazardous than nicotine, despite the common perception that marijuana is a safer alternative to cigarettes.

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