Last Friday, the state of California added marijuana smoke to the state’s official list of known carcinogens. Scientists have reportedly found that marijuana smoke shares the same harmful properties as that of tobacco smoke. The state is required by law to publish a list of chemicals that are known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. With the addition of marijuana smoke to the list, businesses such as dispensaries will be required to post warnings regarding marijuana smoke. The same does not hold true, however, for the plant itself.
Advocates of medical marijuana as well as those pushing for the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, however, are concerned that the addition of marijuana to the list might provide leverage to those who are opposed to the legalization of marijuana to push for further restriction of access to marijuana.
The labeling requirements are not set to take effect until June 19, 2010. Medical marijuana dispensaries with 10 employees or more will be required to either post a warning in the shop or put the warnings on the product itself. Those who will not abide by the labeling requirements may be fined as much $2,500 per day for each violation.
The designation was made by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. According to its chief deputy director Allan Hirsch, smoke from marijuana is a mixture of various chemicals, some of those already listed on the Prop. 65 list. A panel of scientists reportedly reviewed an “extensive body of research,” where links between marijuana smoke and cancer were found. Specifically mentioned in the report were head and neck cancers. The review did not include studies that indicate the various medical benefits of marijuana, which include the reduction of nausea and the restoration of appetite following chemotherapy as well as hampering the progress of glaucoma.