Medical Marijuana for the Treatment of COPD

Posted on July 07, 2021   |   

This position statement was reviewed by the COPD Foundation Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee.

Background: Claims for using marijuana for treatment of COPD

There are several websites that make claims that marijuana can be an effective treatment for COPD. These websites state that "smoking marijuana may help (COPD) patients manage acute airway constriction attacks caused by inflammation and provide a preventive measure."1 They go on to state that medical marijuana can "possess antimicrobial properties, support the immune system, provide pain relief, reduce phlegm by acting as an expectorant, and promote better sleep."1 These websites make claims of effectiveness, but these claims are unsubstantiated and cannot be proven. Smoking, vaping, and dabbing marijuana can harm the lung tissues causing scarring and damage to small blood vessels.2 Marijuana smoke contains many toxins and irritants as tobacco smoke and can lead to greater risk of hyperinflation from increased mucus production.3 In addition the US Food and Drug Administration has not approved marijuana to treat COPD.

COPD Foundation Position

Medical marijuana is not recommended for the treatment of COPD. The COPD Foundation does not recommend the use of medical marijuana in the treatment of COPD or other lung diseases until there is rigorous scientific and medical proof of its effectiveness. Instead, the COPD Foundation encourages individuals with COPD to talk to their pulmonary physician about other scientifically proven treatment options for COPD.


  1. The Marijuana Doctors. Medical Marijuana for COPD. Accessed May 3, 2021.
  2. Tashkin DP. Effects of marijuana smoking on the lung. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2013 Jun;10(3):239-47. doi: 10.1513/AnnalsATS.201212-127FR. PMID: 23802821
  3. Aldington S, Williams M, Nowitz M, Weatherall M, Pritchard A, McNaughton A, Robinson G, Beasley R. Effects of cannabis on pulmonary structure, function, and symptoms. Thorax. 2007 Dec;62(12):1058-63. doi: 10.1136/thx.2006.077081. Epub 2007 Jul 31. Erratum in: Thorax. 2008 Apr;63(4):385. PMID: 17666437; PMCID: PMC2094297.


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  • Thanx for the much needed position statement. I read many of the claims about the virtues of pot for treatment of COPD. However, I didn't proceed because there was no means of determining which "brand" would be best. The various "rating" sites all had vested interests, and couldn't be trusted. Thus I never proceeded. And now I am relieved I did the right thing. //ed
  • It makes logical sense that anybody with COPD or any kind of lung damage shouldn't be smoking anything, but did you look at edibles?
  • I can attest first hand that inhaling pot, through vape or rolled, is ridiculous. Short story. I went to a dispensary when marijuana became legal in my state, 5+ years ago. The person who assisted me said he 'vaped' medical marijuana and his asthma became better, airways expanded, etc., and he no longer had to use an inhaler, and I believed him. So I tried it for awhile, and I have emphysema now at stage 4, but then, not. Anyway, it really did open my airways for a short period of time, then I realized, what am I doing!!! Stopped (3 years ago) yet COPD this year hit back with a vengeance. I do the edibles, medical that is, as what time I have left in my life, it brings sanity to me. Everyone has their own story, yet getting back to the initial comment - no one should smoke, vape anything with lung concerns. Makes no sense! Smoking caused my COPD! Veronica
  • My question is, What about medical cannabis edibles, oils, or sublingual tinctures?

    • As far as treating your breathing problems there is no reliable evidence that says it does anything to improve your breathing. There is also no evidence to indicate how it might interact with medications you might be taking. This is something you should talk with a medical professional about before proceeding.
    • I do not expect edible cannabis to improve my breathing. I do use it for depression, PTSD and appetite enhancement. It works pretty well for those, and my doctor is aware of my edible or tincture use.

  • Not into marijuana. too scary to use, think more study needs to be done.
  • The gummies they keep advertising on internet say they clean your Lungs out, help you quit smoking., calm you down. has no THC in them.
    I have been reading up on the procedure they do for emphysema, I think it is only for Emphysema. I thought Emphysema was usually a coal miners disease.I have thought about inquiring at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. Thats when I get so distressed that night comes and I am afraid scared. Then I fire off with prayers to my sweet Jesus. Love all of you.He is always there for me. With God'
  • Very interesting and much needed information! With so many opinions and questionable information swirling about on the internet, it's helpful to have this solid, definitive statement.