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Cannabis more toxic than cigarettes: study


The Age (AU)

AFP, Australian Foreign Press

March 27, 2006


Smoking three cannabis joints will cause you to inhale the same amount of toxic chemicals as a whole packet of cigarettes, according to research published in France today.


Cannabis smoke contains seven times more tar and carbon monoxide, the French National Consumers' Institute concluded in research published in the April edition of its monthly magazine.


The institute tested regular Marlboro cigarettes alongside 280 specially rolled joints of cannabis leaves and resin in an artificial smoking machine.


The tests examined the content of the smoke for tar and carbon monoxide, as well as for the toxic chemicals nicotine, benzene and toluene.


"Cannabis smoke contains seven times more tar and carbon monoxide than tobacco smoke," the institute's magazine "60 million consumers" said.


Someone smoking a joint of cannabis resin rolled with tobacco will inhale twice the amount of benzene and three times as much toluene as if they were smoking a regular cigarette, the study said.


Smokers of pure cannabis leaves will also inhale more of these chemicals than from a normal cigarette, though the amount varies depending on the quantities.


"Smoking three joints every day -- which is becoming frequent -- makes you run the same risks of cancer or cardio-vascular diseases as smoking a packet of cigarettes," the magazine said.


Cannabis is "by far" the most popular illicit drug in France, it said. The number of cigarette smokers and people drinking alcohol fell in 2005, while the number of cannabis users has increased in France over the past five years.