Marijuana Smoke Study Demonstrates Waterpipes To Be Ineffective

October 24, 1995, San Francisco, CA: Preliminary findings from a recent study on marijuana smoke indicate that waterpipes offer smokers little protection against the harmful tars found in cannabis. The study was sponsored by California NORML and MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) and its findings were released in a California NORML press release.

According to the release, "The reason [for this startling result] appears to be that waterpipes filter out more of marijuana's main psychoactive ingredient, delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), than they do other, non-psychoactive, harmful tars. [Hence] users [of waterpipes are required] to consume more noxious smoke in order to reach their desired high."

The study, which was supported by the Drug Policy Foundation and private donors, carefully analyzed the solid tar and THC content of marijuana smoke from six separate devices. These devices included a regular joint, a cigarette filter, three different waterpipes, and two vaporizers (devices designed to evaporate the THC from the marijuana with minimal smoke.) The performance of each device was rated according to how effectively it reduced the concentration of tar relative to THC. (THC, unlike the tars in marijuana, is not carcinogenic.)

Surprisingly, the unfiltered joint yielded less tar per THC than did either the cigarette filter or any of the waterpipes that were tested. Results regarding the performance of the vaporizers were mixed.

"While the study results suggest waterpipes may be counterproductive, sponsors caution that it is still premature to conclude that they are actually harmful to health," California NORML summarizes. "This is because the study did not analyze the non-solid vapor phase of marijuana smoke, which contains a number of gasses known to be harmful to health. If waterpipes help screen out these gasses, they might be beneficial to health."

For more information, please contact Date Gieringer of California NORML @ (415) 563-5858 or Rick Doblin of MAPS @ (704) 358-9830.

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