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Moir D, Rickert WS, Levasseur G, Larose Y, Maertens R, White P, Desjardins S. 
“A comparison of mainstream and sidestream marijuana and tobacco cigarette smoke produced under two machine smoking conditions”. 
Chem Res Toxicol. 2008 Feb 19;21(2):494-502.
The chemical composition of tobacco smoke has been extensively examined, and the presence of known and suspected carcinogens in such smoke has contributed to the link between tobacco smoking and adverse health effects. The consumption of marijuana through smoking remains a reality and, among youth, seems to be increasing. There have been only limited examinations of marijuana smoke, including for cannabinoid content and for tar generation. There have not been extensive studies of the chemistry of marijuana smoke, especially in direct comparison to tobacco smoke. In this study, a systematic comparison of the smoke composition of both mainstream and sidestream smoke from marijuana and tobacco cigarettes prepared in the same way and consumed under two sets of smoking conditions, was undertaken. This study examined the suite of chemicals routinely analyzed in tobacco smoke. As expected, the results showed qualitative similarities with some quantitative differences. In this study, ammonia was found in mainstream marijuana smoke at levels up to 20-fold greater than that found in tobacco. Hydrogen cyanide, NO, NO x , and some aromatic amines were found in marijuana smoke at concentrations 3-5 times those found in tobacco smoke. Mainstream marijuana smoke contained selected polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) at concentrations lower than those found in mainstream tobacco smoke, while the reverse was the case for sidestream smoke, with PAHs present at higher concentrations in marijuana smoke. The confirmation of the presence, in both mainstream and sidestream smoke of marijuana cigarettes, of known carcinogens and other chemicals implicated in respiratory diseases is important information for public health and communication of the risk related to exposure to such materials.
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