Marijuana’s Safety, Hazards to be Explored

Donald P. Tashkin

Colorado is among a growing number of states that have legalized medical marijuana and, recently, retail marijuana. Changes in the legal landscape have been accompanied by an evolution in usage patterns, such as the increasing use of high-potency strains, edibles, vaping, and synthetic marijuana.

These changes are impacting clinical care with a proliferation in interest from patients about medical use, safety, and, occasionally, local epidemics of toxicity in both children and adults. Increased marijuana use poses public health challenges, including potential health and safety hazards for industry workers.

During “The Evolving Marijuana Epidemic: Implications for Researchers and Clinicians” from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Four Seasons Ballroom 1-2 (Lower Level) Colorado Convention Center, presenters will review the accumulated evidence concerning the real risks of habitual marijuana smoking to lung health.

“Marijuana is the second most widely smoked substance worldwide and contains most of the same ingredients found in tobacco smoke, including many chemicals that are known to injure respiratory tissue and predispose to lung cancer. Consequently, it is reasonable to suspect that regular marijuana smoking may have the same kinds of pulmonary consequences that have been well documented in tobacco smokers, particularly increased risks for both COPD and lung cancer,” says Donald P. Tashkin, MD, emeritus professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Dr. Tashkin is serving as co-chair of the symposium with Russell P. Bowler, MD, PhD, director of the National Jewish Health COPD Clinic and professor of medicine at the University of Colorado, Denver-
Anschutz Medical Campus.

In particular, the speakers will share their insights on the public health perspective of legalized marijuana, the role for medical marijuana, the pathophysiology of marijuana, occupational risks to marijuana workers, the epidemic of synthetic THC, and the effects of cannabis on the lung.