In 1976, Dr. Tashkin, M.D., UCLA, sent a written report to Dr. Gabriel Nahas at the Rheims, France, Conference on Potential Cannabis Medical Dangers. That report became the most sensationalized story to come out of this negative world conference on cannabis.
This surprised Tashkin, who had sent the report to the Rheims conference as an afterthought.
What Tashkin reported to the Rheims conference was that only one of the 29 pulmonary areas of the human lung studiedthe large air passageway did he find marijuana to be more of an irritant (by 15 times) than tobacco. This figure is insignificant, however, since Tashkin also notes that tobacco has almost no effect on this area. Therefore, 15 times almost nothing is still almost nothing. in any event, cannabis has a positive or neutral effect in most other areas of the lung. (See chapter 7, Therapeutic Uses of Cannabis.)
(Tashkin, Dr. Donald, UCLA studies, 1969-83; UCLA Pulmonary Studies, 1969-95.)
Afterwards in 1977, the U.S. government resumed funding for ongoing cannabis pulmonary studies which it had cut two years earlier when Tashkin reported encouraging therapeutic results with marijuana/lung studies. But now the government limited funding only to research to the large air passageway.
We have interviewed Dr. Tashkin dozens of times. In 1986 I asked him about an article he was preparing for the New England Journal of Medicine, indicating that cannabis smoke caused as many or more pre-cancerous lesions as tobacco in equal amounts.
Most persons do not realize, nor are the media told, that any tissue abnormality (abrasion, eruption, or even redness) is called a pre-cancerous lesion. Unlike lesions caused by tobacco, the THC-related lesions contain no radioactivity.
We asked Tashkin how many persons had gone on to get lung cancer in these or any other studies of long-term cannabis-only smokers (Rastas, Coptics, etc.)
Sitting in his UCLA laboratory, Dr. Tashkin looked at me and said, Thats the strange part. So far no one weve studied has gone on to get lung cancer.
Was this reported to the press?
Well, its in the article, Dr. Tashkin said. But no one in the press even asked. They just assumed the worst.
His answer to us was still that not one single case of lung cancer in someone who only smoked cannabis, has ever been reported. It should be remembered that he and other doctors had predicted 20 years ago, their certainty that hundreds of thousands of marijuana smokers would by now (1997) have developed lung cancer.
During a later interview, Tashkin congratulated me on the tip Id given him that marijuana used for emphysema produced good results among persons we knew.
He laughed at me originally, because he had presumed that marijuana aggravated emphysema, but after reviewing his evidence found that, except in the rarest of cases, marijuana was actually of great benefit to emphysema suffers due to the opening and dilation of the bronchial passages.
And so the relief reported to us by cannabis smoking emphysema patients was confirmed.
Marijuana smoke is not unique in its benefits to the lungs. Yerba Santa, Colts foot, Horehound, and other herbs have traditionally been smoked to help the lungs.
Tobacco and its associated dangers have so prejudiced persons against smoking that most persons believe cannabis smoking to be as or more dangerous than tobacco. With research banned, these public health and safety facts are not readily available.
In December 1997, we asked Dr. Tashkin again, and he unequivocably stated that marijuana does not cause or potentiate emphysema in any way. In addition, there has not been one case of lung cancer ever attributed to smoking cannabis.
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