Respiratory symptoms and lung function in habitual heavy smokers of marijuana alone, smokers of marijuana and tobacco, smokers of tobacco alone, and nonsmokers

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1987 Jan;135(1):209-16. doi: 10.1164/arrd.1987.135.1.209.


To evaluate the possible pulmonary effects of habitual marijuana smoking with and without tobacco, we administered a detailed respiratory and drug use questionnaire and/or lung function tests to young, habitual, heavy smokers of marijuana alone (n = 144) or with tobacco (n = 135) and control subjects of similar age who smoked tobacco alone (n = 70) or were nonsmokers (n = 97). Mean amounts of marijuana and/or tobacco smoked were 49 to 57 joint-years marijuana (average daily number of joints times number of years smoked) and 16 to 22 pack-years of tobacco. Among the smokers of marijuana and/or tobacco, prevalence of chronic cough (18 to 24%), sputum production (20 to 26%), wheeze (25 to 37%) and greater than 1 prolonged acute bronchitic episode during the previous 3 yr (10 to 14%) was significantly higher than in the nonsmokers (p less than 0.05, chi square). No difference in prevalence of chronic cough, sputum production, or wheeze was noted between the marijuana and tobacco smokers, nor were there additive effects of marijuana and tobacco on symptom prevalence. We noted significant worsening effects of marijuana but not to tobacco on specific airway conductance and airway resistance (tests of mainly large airways function) in men and of tobacco but not of marijuana on carbon monoxide diffusing capacity and on closing volume, closing capacity, and the slope of Phase III of the single-breath nitrogen washout curve (tests reflecting mainly small airways function) (p less than 0.03, two-way ANCOVA). No adverse interactive effects of marijuana and tobacco on lung function were found.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • California
  • Chronic Disease
  • Drug Interactions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / drug effects*
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Marijuana Abuse / complications
  • Marijuana Abuse / physiopathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / etiology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Risk
  • Smoking*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / complications
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Urban Population