Leave it to Los Angeles. This week they become the first city to provide access to medical marijuana via an ATM. A cannabis co-op, the Herbal Nutrition Center, has installed an Anytime Vending Machine. The ATM-like machine will dispense marijuana 24/7 to patients with a medical marijuana prescription. Each patient receives a "pre-paid" ATM card, which allows weekly prescriptions to be withdrawn at their convenience.
Is this a good thing? Well...
Research from New Zealand says no. Remember the old adage, "First, do no harm"? It seems in the rush to alleviate pain, some quite important side effects were given short shrift. Cancer. Yes, the same lung cancer associated with smoking cigarettes is linked to smoking marijuana. But...
The risk of lung cancer from smoking marijuana is 5 times greater than from smoking cigarettes. Actually, the risk is 5.7 times greater. Now we're talking real pain.
The researchers found that a single joint holds the cancer risk of an entire pack of smokes. One joint, twenty cigarettes. Think of it. We see extensive, and aggressive, health campaigns waged against cigarette smoking. But, in our zeal to allow people the freedom to use medical marijuana, we blew right by the greatest hazard of all.
The danger stems from the level of carcinogens in the marijuana - twice that of cigarettes. In addition, marijuana smokers inhale more deeply, and then hold their breath. This forces more of the carcinogens to be deposited in the lungs. Finally, unlike most cigarettes, joints have no filters and they are smoked down to the absolute end. While this ensures no pot goes to waste, it also ensures every trace of cancer-causing carcinogens is ingested.
So, think twice before you make a late night run to the marijuana ATM. You just may be getting more than you bargained for.To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To find help to quit smoking (cigarettes), see this from Smokefree.gov.