Organic Chemistry Class: Lab Technique

You already know from reading my blogs that I am not great at suspense. If I was, I’d be writing mystery stories and I’d be wealthy. I am neither writing mysteries nor am I wealthy. Yet.

I had always wondered if smoking pot was any safer than smoking tobacco. Is one more more carcinogenic than the other? Are there different health risks? How do the ingredients added by combustion compare? Iverson provides a beautiful comparison chart. In short, there are not staggering attention-getting differences! Both contain known carcinogens. Both contain chemicals like Butane which get you high. So when you combust marijuana, you are huffing at the same time. That is why, IMO in my opinion, smoking a joint is not the same high as eating marijuana which has been properly prepped. (Decarboxilized). I prefer doing the decarb on the full flowers/buds, then using a Magic Butter Machine with avocado oil to make marijuana infused avocado oil. That goes great in coffee. Observe all of the edible precautions. Consuming pot without combustion

The Science of Marijuana, by Leslie Iverson, (free pdf copy) had the information that I needed. Iverson lays out the most significant components in the combustion product of marijuana and tobacco. I read the table decades ago, and amazingly correctly recalled the results of my study. While smoking pot may be marginally safer than smoking tobacco, it is sadly, perhaps tragically, not that much better!

Tar issues with pot can be minimized by inhaling deeply, but NOT holding your breath for more than a few seconds. Back to the chemistry!

Let’s take a closer look at the smoke from tobacco and the smoke from burning marijuana. Carbon Monoxide, which we all know is deadly, is in both. 17 mg in pot vs. 20 mg in a cigarette. Pretty similar. Ammonia, yummy, pot has fractional more. Acetone, another good chemical if you want to fry your brain as a huffer, sniffing chemistry to get high. Cigarettes, about 30% more.  We’re comparing cigarette and a joint which weigh about a gram each, a normal size. Benzene, marijuana has 15% more. Not good. Toluene, very similar. Not good. Total particulate matter, cigs have almost twice as much. My point is that while for some of the chemicals of combustion, pot has less poison, it is not that much less, and for some chemicals, pot has more evil contents. For several other powerful carcinogens, marijuana has much more than the sample cigs.

Combustion adds several hundred additional chemicals to what is being inhaled. Benzanthracene and benzpyrene, tow of the most potent cancer causing chemicals known, are present in both. The amounts are either comparatively similar, or there is more of both pot. More bad news. MORE bad news? Carbon monoxide from pot is absorbed by the body 5 times better than from tobacco. 4-5 times more tar is retained by the lungs from pot.

SO, in conclusion, there is simply too much bad news to feel good about combusting, smoking herb. Although the highly addictive nicotine is absent, pot smoke is just not health food.

Lenny Lensworth Frieling

Shared Knowledge Is Power!

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