Can Secondhand Cannabis Smoke Hurt Your Kids?

When it comes to cigarettes, we hear a lot about secondhand smoke, but it’s a topic that’s starting to come up within the world of cannabis. Cigarette smokers are often advised to abstain from smoking when their children are present so as not to expose them to carcinogens in the smoke. But when it comes to cannabis, many people are left wondering if there are similar negative effects with secondhand smoke from marijuana.


Is Secondhand Smoke from Marijuana Dangerous?

One of the first studies on the issue of secondhand marijuana smoke was published in the Pediatric Resource Journal in December 2016. The study looked at children, ranging in age from one month to two years old, and how they reacted to secondhand smoke from cannabis and tobacco in their households.

Researchers found that the children didn’t have any cannabidiol (CBD) or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in their system, despite being exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke. There were, however, small amounts of COOH-THC, a THC metabolite, found in the systems of 16% of the participants. No long-term problems have been associated with COOH-THC. That said, it hasn’t been extensively studied.


In light of their findings, researchers concluded that the study’s participants absorbed some components found in the cannabis smoke. They also found that children exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke were far more likely to be exposed to tobacco smoke.

This is the first study in which cannabis metabolites have been detected in children exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke. However, the study lacks a clear conclusion on whether there’s a danger associated with secondhand marijuana smoke exposure.

What About Vaporizing Cannabis—Is Secondhand Marijuana Vapor Dangerous?

Vaporizing cannabis has become a popular alternative to smoking marijuana in recent years due to its smoke-free nature, but the health effects of secondhand vapor have also been questioned. There have been no studies on secondhand cannabis vapor, but studies on e-cigarettes have shown that there are some negative effects associated with this type of exposure.

A study by the Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority published in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health found that tobacco vaporizers decreased the surrounding air quality. When vaporizers were used in a room, they increased the amount of nicotine, particulate matter, PAH and aluminum in the air. All of the substances found in the air after vaporizing tobacco have been associated with health problems.

Of course, it’s important to note again that this study involved the use of e-cigarettes rather than the use of cannabis vaporizers.

Definitive Research on Secondhand Marijuana Smoke Is Lacking

After recreational marijuana use was legalized in the state, Colorado touched on the issue of secondhand marijuana smoke in a pamphlet it released covering frequently asked questions related to methods of marijuana use. The guide warns against smoking marijuana around children, due to dangers in cannabis smoke similar to that of tobacco smoke. The pamphlet also warns that vaporizers may lead to secondhand exposure to chemicals that could be potentially harmful to children. Though extensive research to back up the recommendations made by Colorado is lacking, erring on the side of caution is a good path to take.

The true effects of secondhand marijuana smoke are unknown. As with many questions related to marijuana, the topic of secondhand smoke and vapor hasn’t been studied to an extent where definitive conclusions can be drawn. What we do know is that there are components of cannabis smoke absorbed by those who are exposed to it second hand, though the ultimate effect of those components on these individuals is unknown. Since the effects are still unknown, it’s best to keep your children clear of any secondhand smoke or vapor from marijuana.

Play It Safe & Don’t Expose Your Kids to Secondhand Cannabis Smoke

Cannabis comes in many different forms, which don’t have secondhand smoke or vapor as a byproduct. Marijuana-infused tinctures and edibles can be a great alternative to smoking or vaporizing, because they don’t expose the people around you to any of the cannabis you’re consuming. One of the most important things to remember is to store all of your cannabis products responsibly, especially if children also reside in your household. Make sure your products are out of reach of children and preferably moved into child-proof containers to reduce the possibility of accidental consumption. And again, be sure to smoke or vape your marijuana when your children aren’t around.

If you’re new to cannabis and want to learn more, take a look at our Cannabis 101 post. HelloMD can help you get your medical marijuana recommendation; it’s easy, private and 100% online.


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