Experts say too many asthma sufferers are still smoking weed

Published Feb 18, 2021 10:00 a.m. ET
iStock / viennetta

Medical experts who conducted an asthma survey in the US found that around half of those who participated smoke weed. These numbers represent participants who, despite having uncontrolled asthma, continued to be involved in smoking and vaping as a primary method of consumption. What are the medical professionals telling their patients who smoke weed about the health dangers of using inhalation as their method of weed consumption?

What is asthma?

Asthma affects children as well as adults, and it is one of the most common long-term diseases. This disease causes the chest's airways to become narrow, and they may even become inflamed. Currently, there is no cure for asthma. The disease presents with breathlessness, wheezing, a tight chest, or coughing during the night or early in the morning. There are three different types of asthma.

  • Exercise-induced asthma

  • Seasonal or allergic asthma

  • Nocturnal asthma the most common

Who is doing what?

According to the results from one study:

  • 53% of asthma sufferers report smoking weed

  • 35.2% report vaping weed.

In combination, the numbers represent 58 percent of all reporting weed users, and of those:

  • 33% reported using THC

  • 19.3% reported using CBD

  • 47.7% reported using both

  • 39% of respondents reported experiencing uncontrolled asthma.

One of the study’s principal investigators is surprised that more than half of the respondents living with asthma are cannabis smokers. However, from those numbers, about half have uncontrollable asthma. In addition to those who reported smoking weed, about one-third of participants reported vaping weed. These inhalation methods are likely to affect a person's lungs. When the survey asked the participants why they used inhalation to consume weed, 65% reported doing so for medical and recreational purposes.

Effects reported by participants

Positive effects were reported by cannabis users living with asthma, and some of those include:

  • Calm

  • Improved sleep

  • Reduction in pain

However, it was also reported that smoking weed increased coughing and wheezing, and that long-term use could cause increased respiratory symptoms. The study noted the effects of those living with asthma and smoking weed were correlated to smoking tobacco, leading to peripheral airway resistance. From the study, there was an indication that around 2.5% of those who participated were allergic to weed.


More research on the benefits of cannabis for those living with asthma shows that there are options that are not confined to lung inhalation methods, all of which are much easier on the lungs. Cannabis can be beneficial for asthma patients who use:

  • Cannabis contained in a capsule

  • Cannabis or extracts in a tea or food

  • Consuming through the use of a topical preparation

For asthma patients to be correctly informed on smoking weed or vaping it, medical practitioners need to be cannabis educated. The study also revealed that doctors are partially dependent on patients answering questions about their preferred smoking or vaping cannabis experiences. The patient can supply the doctors with routes of consumption used to serve their purposes without exacerbating their asthma symptoms. This study shone a light on the fact that more doctors need to be cannabis educated.

Final thoughts

Clearly, more research is needed to guide asthma patients into the safe and healthy methods of using cannabis, whether for medical or recreational use. As per any new introduction to your health regime, it’s best to talk with your health provider before adding cannabis to yours.

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