Donald P. Tashkin, MD, in his 2001 article "Effects of Smoked Marijuana on the Lung and Its Immune Defenses: Implications for Medicinal Use in HIV-Infected Patients," published in the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics, stated:
marijuana use can cause airway injury, lung inflammation and impaired
pulmonary defense against infection. The major potential pulmonary
consequences of habitual marijuana use of particular relevance to
patients with AIDS is superimposed pulmonary infection, which could be
life threatening in the seriously immonocompromised patient.
view of the immonosuppressive effect of THC, the possibility that
regular marijuana use could enhance progression of HIV infection itself
needs to be considered, although this possibility remains unexplored to
Gabriel Nahas, MD, PhD, Professor Emeritus at Columbia University, wrote in an editorial published Mar. 1997 in the Wall Street Journal:
smoke [marijuana] contains carbon monoxide, acetaldehyde, napthalene
and carcinogens. Inhalation of THC decreases lung defense mechanisms
which are already compromised in AIDS patients, who are extremely
vulnerable to pulmonary infections and tumors like Kaposi's Sarcoma.
marihuana smoke is a questionable choice to treat the symptoms of AIDS
or cancer, especially when safer and more effective medications are
The US DEA wrote the following to ProCon.org in a Jan. 2, 2002 email:
can affect the immune system by impairing the ability of T-cells to
fight off infections, demonstrating that marijuana can do more harm
than good in people with already compromised immune systems.
of these immune suppression properties, the National Institutes of
Health recommends that people with HIV, and others whose immune systems
are impaired, should avoid marijuana use."
The Annals of Internal Medicine, stated in its Aug. 19, 2003 article titled "Short-Term Effects of Cannabinoide in Patients with HIV-1 Infection":
Smoked and oral cannabinoids [marijuana] did not seem to be unsafe in
people with HIV infection with respect to HIV RNA levels, CD4 and CD8
cell counts, or protease inhibitor levels over a 21-day treatment."
receiving cannabinoids [smoked marijuana and marijuana pills] had
improved immune function compared with those receiving placebo. They
also gained about 4 pounds more on average than those patients
GW Pharmaceuticals stated the following on its website (accessed Jan. 2004):
(Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) wasting syndrome was a very
frequent complication of HIV infection prior to the advent of
protease-inhibitor drugs, and has been associated with major weight
loss and cachexia, serving to further debilitate its victims, already
weakened by immune system failure and opportunistic infections.
has been a frequently employed alternative medicine for the condition,
particularly in the USA, because of its reported benefits on appetite
and amelioration of other AIDS symptoms."