Viewing marijuana simply as a recreational drug to get you high is reductive. Presuming you're smoking the real thing, marijuana is a versatile drug with many documented health benefits. With that said, marijuana has also been at the center of some more colorful headlines. Here are six marijuana facts you may not have known.
1. Marijuana can improve lung health, even for cigarette smokers.
Despite conventional wisdom warding you against inhaling smoke of any kind, particularly from tobacco cigarettes, at least one study has shown that marijuana smoke does not impair your lung functions. Furthermore, a 2012 study showed that short-term exposure to marijuana smoke helped nicotine smokers because it increased lung function.
2. Marijuana is apparently legal in North Korea.
According to the Huffington Post, North Korea is pretty chill when it comes to marijuana. Darmon Richter, an English blogger, detailed his experience purchasing a bag of marijuana from a supermarket in Rason, North Korea.
"No one seemed to have a problem with us buying the stuff, and so we decided to put it to the ultimate test: purchasing papers from another stall before rolling up and lighting comically oversized joints right there in the middle of the crowded market," Richter wrote. "Bizarre as the situation was, it seemed a reasonably safe move ... and with several hundred people already staring at us, we weren't likely to feel any more paranoid than we already were."
3. Marijuana and beer are "cousins, [botanical] cousins!"
According to Popular Science, marijuana and hops – the flower commonly used to brew beer – share similar organoleptic properties of taste and smell. This is because Humulus lupulus (hops) and Cannabis sativa (marijuana) belong in the same botanical family called Cannabaceae. That's why your favorite India pale ale might be reminding you of your other favorite indulgence.
4. Marijuana helped the trapped Chilean miners pass the time.
In order to keep morale high, 33 Chilean miners trapped in a San Jose mine in 2010 had to get high. On the other hand, the miners' request for blow-up sex dolls was rejected.
5. Tupac got smoked.
The New York Daily News reported that Tupac Shakur's cremated ashes were mixed with California kush and then smoked by his former rap group, The Young Outlawz.
6. It's nearly impossible to overdose on marijuana.
According to a 1988 Drug Enforcement Administration brief by Judge Francis Young, a marijuana smoker would "theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about fifteen minutes to induce a lethal response." But even if you were to somehow smoke that many joints in such a short time, what you're likely succumbing to is asphyxiation.