The limited lung cancer research available on whether smoking marijuana can cause lung cancer suggests that there are no cases of cannabis smoke inhalation causing cancer or emphysema. John Morgan, the lawyer suing the state of Florida for banning the smoking of medical marijuana, is utilizing this data to help make his case.
There are many beliefs and theories as to all of the medical benefits of marijuana, but very little conclusive research has been conducted because many researchers are nervous they will be breaking federal laws or lose federal funding if they handle marijuana. Mr. Morgan taking this thought provoking route may not only eventually allow for the smoking of medical marijuana to licensed patients, but also highlights the need for more definitive research and therefore also a lower drug scheduling assignment for marijuana by the federal government. Would you like to see more scientific research on the effects of marijuana?
Morgan filed a lawsuit July 6 asking the Leon County Circuit Court to declare the Legislature’s provision unenforceable. He says that while the amendment allows the Legislature to ban smoking in public, it does not allow it to ban smoking in general.
In the lawsuit, Morgan made some claims about the benefits of marijuana and then said this:
“Despite decades of marijuana being used for smoking in the United States, there have been no reported medical cases of lung cancer or emphysema attributed to marijuana.”
There have been people who smoked marijuana who had lung cancer, but that in itself doesn’t tell us if marijuana caused the cancer. We found some evidence to support Morgan’s statement, but the research comes with significant caveats and experts say more research is needed to reach more definitive conclusions.
Ben Pollara, who worked with Morgan on the amendment, sent us multiple articles related to research on cancer and marijuana.
The most comprehensive information comes from a January 2017 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
The report was written by a committee of experts who reviewed studies since 1999 regarding health effects of using cannabis and cannabis-derived products related to various diseases including lung cancer.
In the section on lung cancer, the researchers looked at research and concluded: “There is moderate evidence of no statistical association between cannabis smoking and the incidence of lung cancer.”
However the committee also noted that the studies it reviewed — and research in general about marijuana — had limitations:
• A 2015 study published in the journal Cancer pooled data on 2,159 lung cancer cases. This study found no statistically significant association between smoking cannabis and lung cancer incidence including for a subgroup of study participants who were not tobacco smokers. However, the study noted that “the possibility of potential adverse effect for heavy consumption cannot be excluded.” The study relied on patients’ self-reporting about their use of cannabis.