Comparing smoking marijuana to smoking tobacco, the Canadian Medical Association approved a resolution opposing the smoking of any pot plant material at is annual meeting in Ottawa on Aug. 20. Members of the Canadian Medical Association who lobbied for the resolution noted that marijuana smoke contains many of the same chemicals as tobacco smoke, and some toxin levels are several times higher. For example, the level of ammonia is twenty-times higher than in tobacco smoke, said Canadian Medical Association President Dr. Chris Simpson.
“Smoking marijuana may be more harmful than tobacco, with increased levels of tar… and longer, deeper inhalation,” Simpson said.
However, some physicians attending the annual meeting dissented. Dr. Ashley Miller said taking a prohibitionist stance is based on ideology. Miller wanted to see an evidence-based harm reduction policy instead.
Although some companies in the Canadian medical marijuana industry backed the Canadian Medical Association’s resolution. For instance, Bedrocan Cannabis Corp. issued the following statement:
The CMA is quite right to point out that there are particular hazards associated with smoking any plant material, including medicinal cannabis. While some patients, particularly those who use small quantities, choose to smoke medicinal cannabis, the preferred method of delivery is via the use of a vaporizer – a device that heats cannabis to release the cannabinoids (the active ingredients), but does not burn it. There is good clinical evidence to show that vaporized cannabis contains significantly lower levels of toxins and harmful chemicals.
Of course, Bedocran stands to benefit from the vaporizer method since it manufactures the Vapormed Volcano Medic. According to the company, cannabis vapor is absorbed through the lining of the lungs, causing a rapid onset of therapeutic effect, and allows patients to relatively effectively control dosage.