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Marijuana (Delta-nine-THC) does have an `immunosuppressive effect.’ It acts on certain cells in the liver, called macrophages, in much the same way that it acts on brain cells. Instead of stimulating the cells, though, it shuts them off. This effect is temporary (just like the `high’) and goes away quickly; people who suffer from multiple sclerosis may actually find this effect useful in fighting the disease.
Recent research has also found that marijuana metabolites are left over in the lungs for up to seven months after the smoking has stopped. While they are there, the immune system of the lungs may be affected (but the macrophages do not get “turned off” like in the liver.) The effects of smoking itself are probably worse than the effects of the THC, and last just as long.
All this said, doctors still have not decided whether marijuana users are at risk for colds or not. With the possible exception of bronchitis, there are no numbers which suggest that marijuana users catch more colds, but… this did not stop Carlton Turner, a United States Drug Czar, from saying many times in his public addresses that marijuana caused AIDS and homosexuality. His claims were so ridiculus that the Washington Post and Newsweek Magazine made fun of him, and he was forced to resign.
Today, AIDS patients use marijuana to treat their symptoms without any aparrent problems. Some studies suggest that marijuana may actually stimulate certain forms of immunity. Researchers have tried to show major effects on the healthy human’s immune system, but if marijuana does have any substantial effects, good or bad, they are either too subtle or too small to notice.