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Measuring Environmental Tobacco and Cannabis

Institution: University of California, San Francisco
Investigator(s): Suzaynn Schick, Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 2019 (Cycle 28) Grant #: 28IR-0049 Award: $907,034
Subject Area: Environmental Exposure/Toxicology
Award Type: High Impact Research Project Award

Initial Award Abstract

Marijuana became legal for recreational use by adults in California on January 1, 2018, and we know next to nothing about the chemistry and toxicity of marijuana products. Marijuana is sold in many different forms: as flowers (buds), concentrates (dabs, BHO), edibles (baked goods, candies, drinks), tinctures and skin creams. It is also used in different ways: flowers and concentrates can be smoked or vaporized, alone or mixed with tobacco. There are some preliminary analyses of marijuana secondhand smoke which show that it is similar to tobacco smoke and has similar, negative, effects on cardiovascular health. However, we do not know what chemicals are emitted when people vaporize marijuana, dab (flash vaporize) or bake with it. Likewise, we don’t know which products and ways of using them are most popular or whether different ages, races or ethnicities use cannabis differently. Because marijuana is a tightly regulated, schedule 1 drug, it is very difficult for scientists to obtain and study. We propose to “kickstart” research on the chemistry and toxicity of marijuana, and learn how people in the Bay Area are using it, by visiting public events where people are using marijuana and collecting air samples. We will observe the people and their products and modes of use, and then send the air samples out to a group of analytical chemistry labs to measure the different chemicals. We will bring together academic and cannabis industry chemists to develop the best methods for collecting and analyzing secondhand and thirdhand marijuana emissions. We will also do some preliminary tests on the toxicity of cannabis emissions. By collecting air samples where different products are used, we will be able to compare the chemistry of different products and ways of using them.