With recent reports on lung damage from the Covid-19 virus, it's worth stopping to consider research findings on smoking cannabis.
What I've been finding
I recently came across a few articles claiming that smoking cannabis can cause vascular damage and necrosis or “death” of surrounding tissues.(1) I have been practicing Internal Medicine for 42 years, with a specialty in cannabis medicine for the last 13 years, during which time I have never seen evidence of this.
As I read through the article (linked below,) it became clear that all of the patients participating in the study were also regular tobacco users. In fact, of the 10 out of 10 patients studied, all smoked an average of one pack (20 cigarettes) daily.
Tobacco as a key factor
Tobacco is a well-described, proven cause of arterial damage, therefore it is impossible to determine whether the cause of the damage was due to the tobacco, or the cannabis.(2) In truth, I have seen a number of cases of vascular damage from tobacco (never from cannabis as I mentioned) so it stands to reason, and is likely, that the damage in these patients was actually caused by the cigarettes.
When tobacco is a factor, a study to determine whether cannabis has a damaging effect on arteries is rendered useless and belongs in the same trashcan as the myriad of other cannabis articles missing critical data. In this article, the conclusions simply make no sense.
Look at cannabis use alone
As I was compiling my notes for this blog, I searched for additional articles on this specific topic. I found another in which the authors had doubt as to whether the initial etiology was cigarettes or cannabis, however, they were using cannabis to treat the vascular damage.(3)
As others are now suggesting cannabis as treatment, I stand by my conviction: it is still safe to use medical cannabis.