A new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine has found that, in over 50 U.S. cities where cannabis is legalized, indoor smoking at licensed cannabis businesses is permitted, endangering the health of customers and employees by exposing them to secondhand cannabis smoke (SHCS).
After years of progress on protection against secondhand tobacco smoke, several states now allow indoor marijuana smoking in cannabis smoking lounges pertaining to licensed retailers.
Study first author Thomas L. Rotering is a professor at the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies and the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco.
“While many states maintain strong tobacco smoking and vaping bans to protect public health, our research reveals that some state and local laws exempt cannabis smoke from clean air laws and open the door to smoke-filled businesses, defeating decades of public health advances,” said Professor Rotering.
The researchers investigated government websites, legal databases, local laws, and public reporting to asses the status of cannabis smoking lounges. They found significant variations in how different states address the issue of SHCS exposure, with some states prohibiting cannabis consumption in public spaces, and others (including Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Michigan) allowing onsite consumption at licensed cannabis businesses.
The experts found that of the 56 localities which permit onsite consumption cannabis businesses, only 9 percent require indoors to be smoke-free. Combined with ineffective ventilation and engineering requirements, this may endanger the health of customers and employees alike.
“After decades of progress in clearing the indoor air of tobacco smoke, we are seeing it replaced with cannabis smoke using the same discredited arguments the tobacco industry used in its unsuccessful fight against tobacco smoke restrictions. We need to learn from the past and keep the air clean for all,” said senior investigator Stanton A. Glantz, an emeritus professor at University of California, San Francisco.
The study authors suggest that a solution to these problems is designing isolated, outdoor smoking places at cannabis retailers, or allowing the indoor use of only non-inhalable modes of administration that do not pollute the air and thus put the health of patrons, staff, and customers at risk.