Gras ist gut

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

Hiya, Ngaio. I have a question—if you don’t know the answer, no problem—I’ve been researching it for awhile now. So… because I smoked cigarettes for 35-ish years, I developed asthma, and now I have [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease]. I quit cigarettes 7-8 years ago. However, I still smoke weed every day, and have done for about 10 years. Do you know if smoking weed makes COPD worse? I’m guessing it does. I’m probably grasping at straws that it doesn’t make it worse. Being 50 blows!

—Al V. Olar

High yourself. Sorry to hear about the COPD. The disease is marked by inflammation of the lung tissues, leading to bronchitis, emphysema and other breathing difficulties. Fortunately for you, many studies (mostly performed on animals, but there have been a few tests on humans) show that THC and CBD can have an anti-inflammatory effect and that cannabis is a natural bronchodilator, meaning that it can help open to passageways in the lungs to make breathing easier. If you want to see a list of the studies, go here:

Here’s the gist: Smoking cannabis probably won’t make your COPD worse, although you should lay off the joints and pick up a vaporizer, or try edibles, since cannabis smoke can irritate the lungs. Remember that I am a not a doctor, so you should talk to your health care team about this. Good luck and remember that 50 is the youth of old age, so you are still a spring chicken.

I heard you were just in Germany. How was it?

—Franz Broetchen

It was great! I attended the International Cannabis Business Conference in Berlin (quick note: I work for the ICBC). There were folks from at least 40 different countries, and it was great to see so many fans of cannabis gathered in one spot. Germany has had a medical marijuana law on the books for about a year. Patients can buy cannabis at the pharmacy, which is cool, but Germany doesn’t grow its own weed, so they import it from Canada, which makes it kinda expensive. Importers have to have armed guards, temperature controlled airplanes and a bunch of other stuff, including insurance against missile attacks. Weird, I know. So the price for a gram of medicinal cannabis is about 24 euros, or almost $30. My weed dude in Berlin got me some grams of the good stuff for 10-15 euros, which is like $12-$17. The prices are a little higher than when I was in Berlin in the ’90s and you could get 2.5 grams for about $20, but the weed is way better now. I smoked a really strong Strawberry Banana and an excellent Zombie Kush. There was also some Moroccan hash (LOVE IT!) and one of my new friends gave me some of his Chocolate Mint homegrown that had an excellent flavor and great relaxing effects. It was an excellent time, and I cannot wait to go back.