Health risks of marijuana vs. cigarettes

Local News

ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – With Governor Andrew Cuomo on January 6th announced a proposal to legalize and create a comprehensive system to oversee and regulate cannabis in New York as part of the 2021 State of the State. Some states, like Colorado, saw great success with their legalization and subsequent taxation of marijuana, and it is something that has been gaining popularity nationally for years. The governor expects that once fully implemented, legalization is expected to generate more than $300 million in tax revenue. 

There are still some unknowns, however. The health risks of smoking marijuana have been difficult to study due to it being illegal on a federal level. 18 News reached out to Arnot Ogden Medical Center to discuss potential health risks with an expert and compare them to cigarettes.

“Marijuana, like alcohol. Has the risk of addiction or codependency or dependence. And so there’s a segment of people that get hooked on it and it alters their life in an unpleasant way.” Said Dr. Greg Loewen, a pulmonologist at Arnot Health. He also said that smoke, in general, is bad for your lungs. “You are exposed to the products of combustion. When marijuana is lit and oxidized, and the smoke components that are in marijuana smoke are almost identical to the smoke components that are in tobacco cigarettes.”

He said that since most marijuana joints are unfiltered, some particulates can enter your lungs and cause damage. He also discussed the damage that taking a draw and holding your breath can cause damage.

Dr. Loewen specifically pointed out that vaping THC is particularly dangerous as many have died as a direct result of inhaling vitamin E.

18 News also reached out to Matthew Burr, Human Resource Consultant and Owner of Burr Consulting said that the revenue from marijuana would likely be more than meets the eye. “Well, obviously it could create jobs as well so you’re looking at a payroll tax you’re looking at other tax revenue besides sales tax.” Said Burr. He went on to say that New York would need to avoid the mistakes that California made in overtaxing the marijuana so that it wasn’t very profitable.

“Well I mean I think you’ve got to take a look at it like you tax and sell alcohol and kind of find a balance.” Said Burr. He also said that employers would need to quickly update their policies to follow the law and that some employment positions would still need to be excluded from being allowed to smoke marijuana.

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