IN the Micronesian islands, besides sakau and betelnut, imported alcohol and tobacco have become popular among members of the public.

With the legalization of marijuana on Guam and the CNMI, residents interviewed by this writer said they are concerned about the impact on the community.

But they also noted that cigarettes and alcoholic beverages — not to mention junk food — are known to be harmful to one’s health and yet  can be purchased legally.


An adult who chooses to use or consume any of these substances and items must act responsibly and will be held accountable for his actions, other residents said.

For its part, the American Lung Association said it is concerned about the health impacts of marijuana use, especially on lung health. “We caution the public against smoking marijuana because of the risks it poses to the lungs,” it added.

It said  “it's important to note that there are other health concerns outside the lungs attributed to marijuana use…including neurological and cognitive effects. Additionally, there are significant public health concerns associated with pediatric poisonings caused by accidental ingestion of edible marijuana products.”

The American Lung Association said smoking marijuana “clearly damages the human lung.”

It added, “Research shows that smoking marijuana causes chronic bronchitis and marijuana smoke has been shown to injure the cell linings of the large airways, which could explain why smoking marijuana leads to symptoms such as chronic cough, phlegm production, wheeze and acute bronchitis.”

Moreover, smoking marijuana “can harm more than just the lungs and respiratory system — it can also affect the immune system and the body's ability to fight disease, especially for those whose immune systems are already weakened from immunosuppressive drugs or diseases, such as HIV infection.”

Smoking marijuana “hurts the lungs' first line of defense against infection by killing cells that help remove dust and germs as well as causing more mucus to be formed. In addition, it also suppresses the immune system. These effects could lead to an increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections among marijuana smokers, although there is no clear evidence of such actual infections being more common among marijuana smokers. However, frequent marijuana-only smokers have more healthcare visits for respiratory conditions compared to nonsmokers.”

For more information, consult your doctor.

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