Marijuana dispensaries have been popping up in local communities around the country, but what are the cons of having them so close to home? For parents and children, the presence of these dispensaries can affect the daily quality of life. One of the biggest concerns is secondhand smoke.
Secondhand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), is a mixture of two forms of smoke that come from burning tobacco. According to the American Cancer Society, secondhand smoke can cause or worsen a wide range of damaging health effects in adults and children. These include respiratory infections, asthma attacks, ear infections, and even sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
The same risks apply when it comes to secondhand marijuana smoke. Inhaling marijuana smoke can lead to an increased risk for respiratory problems such as bronchitis and other lung-related issues. It can also cause eye irritation and headaches in those who are exposed to it on a regular basis.
In addition to physical health concerns, there are mental health concerns associated with constant marijuana smoking. Studies have shown that long-term use of marijuana can lead to anxiety, depression, and even psychosis in some cases. This is especially true for young people whose brains are still developing.
Having dispensaries nearby can make it easier for people to access marijuana without having to travel far distances. But this convenience comes with a price—the potential for negative impacts on public health due to secondhand smoke exposure and mental health issues related to long-term use. Parents should be aware of these risks before allowing their children near any dispensary or area where marijuana is being used or smoked.
The known risks of secondhand exposure to tobacco smoke—including risks to the heart and lungs1—raise questions about whether secondhand exposure to marijuana smoke causes similar health risks. Secondhand marijuana smoke contains many of the same toxic and cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco smoke and contains some of those chemicals in higher amounts.2
Secondhand marijuana smoke also contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound responsible for most of marijuana’s psychoactive effects (or the “high”). THC can be passed to infants and children through secondhand smoke, and people exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke can experience psychoactive effects, such as feeling high.3,4 Recent studies have found strong associations between reports of having someone in the home who uses marijuana (e.g., a parent, relative, or caretaker) and the child having detectable levels of THC.5,6 Children exposed to THC are potentially at risk for negative health effects. More research is needed to understand how secondhand marijuana exposure may affect children. Other research shows that marijuana use during adolescence can impact the developing teenage brain and cause problems with attention, motivation, and memory.6