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Aug-30-2007 05:50printcomments

Medical Marijuana: Asthma Treatment

Phillip Leveque has spent has life as a Combat Infantryman, Physician and Toxicologist.

Dr. Phil Leveque and Bonnie King during a interview
Dr. Phil Leveque and Bonnie King during a interview

(SALEM, Ore.) - I was totally befuddled to read in the Oregonian newspaper August, 1, 2007, of a research study in New Zealand that smoking one joint of marijuana obstructs the flow of air (in the lungs) as much as five tobacco cigarettes.

The New Zealand Medical Research Institute further reports that long-time pot smokers can develop symptoms of asthma, bronchitis, obstruction of large airways and excessive lung inflation.

They seem to hedge their remarks by writing that the chronic lung disease, emphysema, (from tobacco smoking) was uncommon among marijuana smokers.

They further stated that only 1.3 percent of marijuana smokers had emphysema, while it was 16.3 percent with marijuana AND tobacco and 18.9 percent of tobacco only smokers.


I can’t figure how this news item got so screwed up. It sounds like “Reefer Madness” from Anslinger or the Hearst newspapers.

With my experience with more than 4,000 patients including many who have asthma, I was surprised when patients with asthma came in requesting marijuana permits.

This required considerable thought and consideration because I had heard for years that marijuana caused irritation of lung passages and coughing. It was time for some education for me by my patients.

Cannibinoids, the medicine in marijuana, cause smooth muscle relaxation and smooth muscles are the inside lining of the airways; therefore, marijuana should help asthma patients by enlarging the bore. It does.

The answer is simple. Old marijuana pre- about 1980 was usually 5 percent or less medicine and burning it as in smoking caused the irritants and bronchitis. We call that “Ditch Weed”.

I have seen the hemp plantations in New Zealand. That’s “Ditch Weed” and no self-respecting pothead would smoke it. This is obviously what these New Zealand guinea pigs were smoking.

For heavens sake, give them some good grass containing 15 percent THC.

I presume somebody down under is trying to frighten people from smoking marijuana. It won’t work.

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION FOR DR. LEVEQUE? Email: or simply write a comment at the bottom of the page. You do not have to use your real name if you are not comfortable doing so. We will do our best to have your questions addressed in upcoming segments.

Phillip Leveque is a physician, toxicologist and WWII Combat Infantryman. Watch for his video question and answer segments about medical marijuana with Bonnie King.
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WA state October 1, 2010 7:09 pm (Pacific time)

Hi I've had asthma since i was around 12 years old i used to have to go to the hospital for my attaks either because my inhaler wouldn't work for me or i jus didn't have one at the time, i started smoking weed around the age of 14 and i noticed that when i smoked i had no shortness of breath or weezing i am now turning 18 and i definitly plan on trying to substitute my inhaler for medi-mari

Becky May 19, 2010 1:33 am (Pacific time)

I lived in Australia & had asthma my whole life.I smoked pot late teens. In my 30's I was hospitalized every 6-8 weeks with attacks. Last 6 years I live Maui. Have not smoked for 12 years. I had 2 bad episodes after returning from Asia with cronic asthma & chest infections. I spoked some pot, it relaxed me enough to to think I would die. And I beleive it helped open my airways. Not sure if long term use is good. But I recommend a hit when having an attack.

Weed Boy April 12, 2010 7:51 pm (Pacific time)

i dont have any problems i jus smoke weed to get high =) and im A+ student. Hi5

Unlce Dave January 26, 2010 10:41 pm (Pacific time)

smoke weed every day :)

J November 25, 2009 11:15 pm (Pacific time)

For the record, New Zealand weed is some of the best in the world.

420dude June 10, 2009 10:41 pm (Pacific time)

I was in the hospital for 1 week because of a really bad asthma attack. weed actually helped me because it helped in pushing out all the phlem and it is proven that marijuana can relac the airways.

...... May 17, 2009 6:10 pm (Pacific time)

I had breathing problems all my life and I started smoking pot in collage and my breathing problems went away but i stopped smoking about a year ago and the symptoms have been slowly coming back

Hannah Bishop February 22, 2009 11:31 am (Pacific time)

Beautiful. This doctor is a great man. I've had asthma for the entirety of my nineteen year life, and since I started smoking pot when I was fifteen, my asthmatic problems have DRASTICALLY reduced, and I used to have to go to the hospital for asthma attacks every other weekend. I have recently had to stop smoking (needed to get a job and haven't gotten my "green card" yet), and have noticed since I quit that my asthma has worsened again. My boyfriend and I both plan on acquiring our medical cannibis cards soon, and I cannot wait. Pot is a much safer way of controlling asthma than chemical inhalers or "asthma preventitives" that clearly state they can increase the your risk of dying because of an asthma related death. Long live pot-smokers!!!

chad October 27, 2008 5:39 pm (Pacific time)

i have had asthma my whole life and have been hospitilized multiple times. i began smoking marijuana at age 13. i am 18 now and i have not had to go to the hospital for asthma since!! it has gotten drastically better. the only thing that seems to bother my lungs are blunts lol if you have asthma i recommend using a vaporizer or other ways of using marijuana other than smoking it i say volcano all the way!!!!!!

gustavo valencia October 2, 2008 11:29 am (Pacific time)

Im an asthmatic 19,years been ihaling canabis since 13,years it's a natural helpful plan god bless

robin hardy September 6, 2008 3:46 pm (Pacific time)

Its Also Known As Electronic Warfare Techknowledgy/harrasment.

robin hardy September 6, 2008 3:34 pm (Pacific time)

Kansas sure has plenty of drunk doctors and lawyers.

ricardo August 10, 2008 10:23 am (Pacific time)

I have been stuttering my speech since I was 12. I have always had a problem with that and has kept me from doing things I wanted to do. But since I started Smoking marijuana at 16, the stuttering has gone away. It's amazing how much better my life is.

Gary Aasted September 1, 2007 12:58 pm (Pacific time)

I have been using marijuana since I was 12 years of age, I was diagnosed with AIDS in 91' and had already had it for 9 years, my cell count was 40 and without any opertunistic diseases from it I am now at a very healthy cell count of 483 and rising. I won't give it up because I truly believe that it has been the driving force behind my living with this disease for over half my life now I am 46 and the doctors are dumb founded at how hwalthy I am. When I go in to see my doctor he listens to my lungs and is amazed at the clarity of my breathing. You go Doctor Phil, and make these nieve doctors understand just how benificial marijuana is!

Alison Myrden August 31, 2007 11:42 pm (Pacific time)

Hi my name is Alison. I am a legal cannabis patient in Canada for the indication of chronic progressive Multiple Sclerosis and an excruciating pain in my face twenty four hours a day associated with MS, called tic douloureux, the worst pain known to medicine. I have been on a regime of over 32 pills a day and up to two thousand milligrams of morphine for over fifteen years and found out something really interesting while using cannabis over the last many years. According to the many studies that I have read over the years, Cannabis is the world's best Bronchodilator. "Thanks to Mechoulam and Schuel, someday soon there will be cannabinoid-based or anandamide-based medical treatments for those who can't sleep, who have no appetite, who develop strokes or heart conditions, who suffer asthma or glaucoma, who are too restless or anxious, or who suffer any number of other maladies." I used to rely on three asthma inhalers three to four times a day just to feel some relief and be able to breath. These days I take no pharmaceutical medication for asthma, nor more than two thirds of my total regime of pill, but DO take my prescribed 20-28 grams of cannabis a day. I eat it, smoke it and drink it in tea all day every day. ANYTHING is better than all those pills! Legalize and regulate all illegal drugs to keep them off of the streets, away from our children and into the hands of those who are sick an suffering and people who can control them. THAT - is the only answer. Drop by our website at for more information. Sincerely, Alison Myrden Retired Law Enforcement Officer Speaker for LEAP Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

Henry Ruark August 30, 2007 3:43 pm (Pacific time)

Whatever happened to that wellknown Attorney General agreement, signed by 40 or so states, of several years ago, designed to provide protection for legal usages as specified in agreement ? Oregon signed ! Fullpage ads ran in many national magazines; will dig out and PDF-several for record here.

Neal Feldman August 30, 2007 8:44 am (Pacific time)

More and more reasons piling up for me to get a permit I guess. First chronic pain now asthma. If it is found to clear up psoriasis Im getting one and that's that!

S.LaMarche; August 30, 2007 8:16 am (Pacific time)

Excellent news! I'd actually noticed a cough on even the higher quality available locally though brought in from some other S.E. Asian bordering country I'm told. Nothing that lasts too long but still was on my mind., been doing it since I was 17. Can you use any quality oriented guinea pigs? I'm way over legal age now and would allow the results to be published for free. Thank you very much.

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