How Does Secondhand Marijuana Smoke Affect The Brain?

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

Although some may argue that marijuana isn’t as detrimental to one’s health as alcohol, those smoking marijuana may not be aware that they’re not the only ones they affect. In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen describe the surprising effect secondhand marijuana smoke may have on your brain, especially in terms of its perceived age.


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Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. Here we teach you how to win the fight for your brain, to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD, and addictions.

Dr Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we've transformed lives for three decades using brain SPECT imaging to better target treatment and natural ways to heal the brain. For more information, visit

Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceutical products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information, visit

Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast, and stay tuned for a special code for a discount to Amen Clinics for a full evaluation as well as any of our supplements at

Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome back. Well, I read the most interesting study that horrified me. I know we're going to get hate mail, and, quite frankly, I don't care because here we operate on "know the truth and the truth will set you free."

Tana Amen: I'm actually happy you got this study.

Dr Daniel Amen: All right, so-

Tana Amen: Do you want to know why?

Dr Daniel Amen: Why?

Tana Amen: First of all, this segment really ticks me off.

Dr Daniel Amen: Really?

Tana Amen: Yes.

Dr Daniel Amen: Like more than most things tick you off?

Tana Amen: Yes, more than most things, and let me tell you why: because I know that you're a fan of legalizing marijuana. In one of our segments, he actually said "we are fans." I'm not a fan. The "we" in that, I don't know who the other person is.

Dr Daniel Amen: The weed in that?

Tana Amen: Okay, now, I'm not a fan of the same ... whatever, okay? The punishment should not be the same as locking people up with hardened criminals. I agree with that. Let me tell you why it annoys me, and it's not the same as alcohol. Are the effects on people the same? Yeah. Okay, I agree. They're very similar effects. I'm not comparing them that way.

What annoys me as somebody who had to grow up with parents ... My mom smoked almost three packs of cigarettes a day. My stepdad smoked almost four packs of cigarettes a day. I hated it so much, they were not even allowed in my room. I would literally scream and throw a huge fit if they walked in my room. It was that bad in my house.

Dr Daniel Amen: I can't imagine you screaming.

Tana Amen: I know. It was so bad because the cigarette smoke was so bad in my house. It just drove me crazy. This is one of the reasons it annoys me: because everywhere I go now, I smell pot. It just sets me off.

Dr Daniel Amen: Okay, so the legalization or-

Tana Amen: I shouldn't have to smell it.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... you know, we've already done that, so we don't have to do that again. I just don't think you should be putting potheads in jail.

Tana Amen: But if someone else is drinking a glass of wine ... I'm not done. If someone else is drinking a glass of wine, if they get in their car drunk, yes, it affects me. Call the police. Lock them up.

Dr Daniel Amen: Yeah, or if you're married to them, they're more likely to beat you.

Tana Amen: Then you-

Dr Daniel Amen: Domestic violence-

Tana Amen: I agree with that.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... is way higher in alcohol than marijuana.

Tana Amen: I am not disagree with that. I am not disagreeing with the negative effects of alcohol.

Dr Daniel Amen: I'm not a fan of marijuana. I'm about to publish a study, just so everybody hears, on 70 thousands scans. It's the world's largest imaging study ever.

Tana Amen: I would say that if you-

Dr Daniel Amen: Wait, wait, let me finish.

Tana Amen: ... are in a room where it's legal-

Dr Daniel Amen: Let me finish.

Tana Amen: ... and I'm across the room ... Hold on.

Dr Daniel Amen: Let me finish.

Tana Amen: I am forced, forced-

Dr Daniel Amen: We're going to get to that.

Tana Amen: ... to deal with it.

Dr Daniel Amen: Let me finish. 70 thousand scans. One of the major findings that's going to cause all sorts of havoc-

Tana Amen: Good. I like that.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... this'll be hysteria in the society — is on average marijuana brains are three years older than people who do not smoke marijuana. I mean, it's very clear that it has a negative aging effect on the brain.

All right, here's the study. The researchers found that people exposed to cigarette smoke, that it actually decreased blood flow and arterial flexibility, so the flexibility of your arteries, your blood vessels, if you're exposed for just one minute-

Tana Amen: This is secondhand smoke.

Dr Daniel Amen: Secondhand smoke.

Tana Amen: Yes.

Dr Daniel Amen: So, not smoke you inhaled. Some smoke somebody else inhaled. It affected, and this was a rat study-

Tana Amen: This is cigarette or pot?

Dr Daniel Amen: First one is cigarettes for 30 minutes. So, one minute of cigarette smoke affected the rats' brains for 30 minutes. He was at a concert and got a contact high-

Tana Amen: Oh, boy.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... and he's like, "I wonder what marijuana does?" So he did a study where he exposed the rats to one minute of marijuana smoke. It affected the rats' brains for 90 minutes.

Tana Amen: Okay, you just made my point.

Dr Daniel Amen: Three times. Three times what cigarette smoke-

Tana Amen: You just made my point.

Dr Daniel Amen: About what?

Tana Amen: That it just annoys me to no end. Someone's at a party-

Dr Daniel Amen: Talk about the Poison concert.

Tana Amen: Oh, God. So, I took my daughter to a Def Leppard/Poison concert. She still hasn't forgiven me. She loved going with me, but I got to tell you, my generation ... She has never been. She goes to Justin Bieber concerts. That really doesn't happen that much at those concerts, apparently. These were young kids that go to those concerts. She goes to my concert with me and she said two things. She was horrified by all the pot. The guy next to us would not stop smoking pot.

She literally leaped over the things. There was no one sitting in front of us. She ran down the aisle and she calls you. She's like, "Oh my God. Oh my God. If this shows up on my scan, it's not me. I didn't smoke pot." She was so angry and so upset that these people were smoking so much pot. Then she looks at me and she goes ... She's looking at all the moms who are acting psychotic at this concert. They're literally acting crazy. I would never do that, just FYI, but she looks at me and she goes-

Dr Daniel Amen: How were they acting crazy?

Tana Amen: Oh, well, let me tell you. She looks at me and she goes, "If I ever see you twerking, I will kill you myself." She goes, "Is this what moms do when they get rid of us for the night?" So, two bad things at the Def Leppard concert.

Dr Daniel Amen: Back to growing up in a home filled with smoke. That had a negative impact on your mom's brain, on your stepfather's brain, and-

Tana Amen: I'm guessing on some of the negative health issues that I've had.

Dr Daniel Amen: Like cancer or thyroid issues?

Tana Amen: Now, my mom didn't know all of this, so I don't blame my mom, but, you know, it's a little frustrating-

Dr Daniel Amen: But we know it now and you should not be exposing your lungs, yourself, or the people you love to secondhand smoke and the idea that marijuana's good medicine. It damages blood flow to the brain. People go, "Well, what about CBD?" The fact is we don't know. CBD has only been legal for a very short time. I actually got an email today from a friend of mine who said, "Is BrainMD going to get into the CBD business?" I went, "No, because there's not enough research that says this is good." There is some preliminary research that it may be helpful for seizures. Certainly if somebody's dying of cancer, let them get high. I mean, you know, who cares? But don't affect other people in the house.

Tana Amen: Right. If you want to use it for medicinal reasons, stay at home or go somewhere where you're not affecting people who don't want to be affected.

Dr Daniel Amen: But better to ingest it in other forms than to smoke it. Our chief scientist, I sent him the article and he goes, "Well, I totally believe it," because whenever you heat up a substance, you're producing many free radicals. Your lung tissue is very delicate and very soft. He's like, "It just damages lung tissue. If you damage lung tissue, you damage blood flow throughout your whole body."

Tana Amen: I know now-

Dr Daniel Amen: The moral of the story is if you hate someone, I guess you should blow smoke their way.

Tana Amen: You think you're going to get hate mail? I'm going to get lots of hate mail. It's okay. I don't actually care either, but I'm just saying, if you're the person on the other end of that, it's really not a fun thing, to be having to inhale people's smoke when you don't smoke. So, do with that what you will.

Dr Daniel Amen: Stay with us.

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