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Are Hemp Cigarettes Safe for Your Lungs?

Written by Paul James

After the EVALI crisis, many became very critical of inhalable cannabis products. Even though the culprit of this illness was vape catridges with unsafe Vitamin E acetate, the panic may have brought some users toward other methods like hemp cigarettes. But, do they pose any harm?

Unfortunately, there’s only been so much research concerning this topic. Not to mention, most of this research concerns cannabis that’s high in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) rather than cannabidiol (CBD).

We do know that smoking cannabis, like any other substances, has the potential to lead to respiratory issues. According to the Harm Reduction Journal, a number of participants self-reported having respiratory problems from smoking both cannabis and tobacco cigarettes.[1] However, it should be noted that the purpose of this study was to find out whether or not vaporizing cannabis helped reduce respiratory symptoms.

The reason many of these participants self-reported respiratory issues is simply because smoke is harmful to our lungs, regardless of whether it’s cannabis or tobacco. As stated by the American Lung Association, “toxins and carcinogens are released from the combustion of materials. Smoke from [cannabis] combustion has been shown to contain as many of the same toxins, irritants, and carcinogens as tobacco smoke.”

Beyond smoking itself, another concern hemp smokers must face is what they’re really inhaling. The Journal of the American Medical Association tested a variety of CBD products purchased online. It discovered that 26% of these products contained less CBD than were labeled on the product.[2]

Since the hemp and CBD industry remain unregulated by the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it’s been easy for shady companies to market ineffective products. Not to mention, it’s unclear whether these products have any other contaminants, such as heavy metals or pesticides, which would be dangerous to inhale into the lungs.

This is one of the aspects of the hemp plant that smokers need to understand. Hemp’s roots have the ability to absorb anything within the soil around it. If there’s happens to be contaminants in that soil, the hemp plant and buds it sprouts will become infected with this toxin.

Ultimately, you’re puffing at your own risk. So you must make sure you purchase hemp cigarettes from a reputable brand that goes the extra length to make sure its buds don’t contain any contaminants.

Image Credit: Mathew MacQuarrie

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  1. Earleywine M & Barnwell SS. Decreased respiratory symptoms in cannabis users who vaporize. Harm Reduction Journal. 2007;4:11.
  2. Bonn-Miller et al. Labeling accuracy of cannabidiol extracts sold online. JAMA. 2017.318(17):1708-1709.

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Paul James

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