CyrilY Asked :
About a week back I tried marijuana for the first time and smoked a big joint with a couple of friends. It was mixed with tobacco because most of us had not tried it before. I actually had quite a bad experience with it and I will never use it again but by late afternoon of the day after that, I started experiencing a dull chest pain.

I figured that the marijuana probably irritated my lungs. It’s now like 6 days later and my chest pain has not gone down. The pain is not at any specific spot – it’s like a dull pain of the whole chest, but if I breathe in deeply and press by the breastbone, it’s a bit more sensitive.

I am a cigarette smoker, less than 10 in a day, but I am wondering if the marijuana could have done any permanent damage to my lungs. I don’t have a cough and the pain only gets worse if I breathe in very deeply. I am not sure if I am imagining it but when I think of my lungs, I feel like I am experiencing trouble breathing and breathing too fast. This is the first I ever used a drug of any sort like this but have tried even cigars in the past and never had this type of chest pain.

I obviously don’t want to speak to my family doctor about this but if this could be a serious condition, I will go for medical help elsewhere. I am afraid that they will run blood tests and pick up the marijuana in my blood. I am quite stressed about this and not too sure what I should do. I spoke to my friend, a regular marijuana smoker who prepared the joint and he assured me that nothing extra was added to it. Any suggestions?


This question was posted under the Marijuana THC Drug Test – Urine, Blood, Hair, Saliva, Sweat article.

Any response by the Health Hype team does not constitute a medical consultation and the advice should be viewed purely as a guide. Always consult with your doctor before making any changes to your current treatment program. The information provided in this article is not an authoritative resource on the subject matter and solely intends to guide the reader based on the questions asked and information provided.


Dr. Chris Answered :

Chest pain due to marijuana use can be due to two possible causes. The most common in first time users is the tendency to inhale deeply or draw hard on the ‘joint’. This requires the chest cavity to expand beyond the norm and can irritate the chest muscles, It may also affect the cartilage between the ribs and sternum (breastbone) and inflame this cartilage or the joints which may be the reason why you have noticed the tenderness in this area. Refer to Causes of Breastbone Pain.

Another common practice among marijuana users is to keep the inhaled smoke within the lungs in order to increase absorption of the active ingredients of marijuana into the bloodstream. This keeps the chest cavity expanded to its maximum capacity during the period. Once again this will exacerbate the effect of breathing deeply as indicated above  and impact on the respiratory muscles, accessory muscles of respiration and cartilage and joints. Refer to the Process of Respiration for more information on the breathing process.

These two factors could be responsible for the dull ache that you are now experiencing and will also explain the pain upon deep inhalation.

However, another possible cause of this chest pain is that the air passages and lungs are inflamed. This will result in the constant dull ache that you are experiencing, which is more pronounced upon breathing in deeply. Marijuana, and even tobacco on its own,  have many compounds which can irritate the lining of the air passages and the pain will only ease once the inflammation settles. This could also affect your normal breathing but usually this is a consequence of long term smoking Рcigarettes or marijuana.

As you mention, you are stressed about the effects of smoking marijuana and any possible complications so your shortness of breath may be just a perception or related to anxiety due to the chest pain. As a precautionary measure, you should consult with a doctor and be honest about your marijuana usage. In terms of blood tests, it is important to not that marijuana will not be detected in your blood unless the tests is specific for THC and its metabolites. Refer to Does Marijuana Affect Blood Test?

Nevertheless, don’t hide the fact that you smoked marijuana – your doctor will keep this information confidential but it will help him/her in the clinical evaluation and requesting necessary tests to exclude more serious medical conditions.


Article reviewed by Dr. Greg. Last updated on August 22, 2010