For years, several posts on social media have shared a photograph of a walnut, saying it showed the lungs of a marijuana smoker of 10 years. The image was widely posted on Reddit, according to TinEye, a reverse image search program.
One early post with the claim was published in 2018 with this ominous warning: "This is the lungs of a marijuana user. It's really sad what this dope can do to your body. Please people be smart, put down the dope and pick up the hope."
Another user responded to the 2018 post by noting that it was a "perfect example of a nutcase." We were unable to determine whether the user who posted the 2018 variant was the original author of the warning.
We found similar posts on other social media platforms. Subsequently, the narrative changed to claim the "lungs" belonged to a 10-year-old child. A Twitter user repeated that claim. However, in a subsequent reply, the user acknowledged the post was meant as a joke, and that it was, in fact, a photograph of a walnut.
Unsurprisingly, a Google search for images of lungs of a smoker of marijuana returned the image displayed on the right below, which was nowhere similar to the photo of the walnut that users on social media shared.
(Robert Soap Sopolosky/Reddit (Left); Radiology Society of North America (Right))
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms that smoking marijuana can be harmful to the lungs. "Smoked marijuana, regardless of how it is smoked, can harm lung tissues and cause scarring and damage to small blood vessels," the CDC says on its website. "Smoke from marijuana has many of the same toxins, irritants, and carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals) as tobacco smoke."