Vaporizing or “vaping” of cannabis has gained in popularity over the last several years, just as e-cigarettes have. But what exactly is vaporizing, and is it safe? We’ll help separate fact from fiction.
Introduction: Vaping vs Smoking
If you’ve come across this article, you’re looking to understand the major differences between vaping vs. smoking. Let me tell you, you’ve come to the right place.
In only the past few years, vaping vs smoking weed has become a rising and debatable topic between new smokers and connoisseurs. More traditional smokers often go with what they know and understand, such as a joint, a bong rip, or a bowl. While many love the ease of vaping because of it being discreet, not having such a loud smell and there seems to be a new vape product released every week.
So what is the real difference between vaping and smoking? Is there one better for you, what are the benefits, the cons, and do you really have to choose one or the other?
It’s time to answer all your questions about how vaping and smoking differ in regards to safety, consumption, health effects, the high and even the quality of the product.
Differences Between Smoking & Vaping Marijuana
Even though there a number of extremely high-THC strains and flower options available on the market in modern times, vaping has been notorious for providing a bigger punch than smoking dry flower.
Does Vaping Weed Get You Higher?
A recent study released by John Hopkins has shown that vaporizing cannabis does in fact provide a more intense high compared to smoking flower of the same dose. In short, this means if you are going to vape a cannabis concentrate you should be aware of the amount you intake, especially if you’re a first time user.
This extensive study was led by scientists at the John Hopkins Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit in Baltimore. They brought in 17 participants and tested the effects of smoking marijuana versus vaping marijuana. All of the volunteers smoked cannabis before but were instructed to not smoke for the 30 days prior to the start of the test. The participants then consumed marijuana six different times during 8.5-hour sessions.
During the study, each of the subjects were told to smoke and vape different cannabis products containing 5mg, 10mg, or 25mg of tetrahydrocannabinol (better known as THC), but they had no idea how much they were inhaling at any given time in order to prevent any bias while filling out drug impairment questionnaires.
Participants had their heart rates measured, blood drawn and blood pressure rates checked at different times of the day throughout their smoke fest.
The test results proved that inhaling 25mg dose of THC, regardless of the way it was consumed, will in fact get you extremely high. In fact, several people in the study either smoked or “tripped” after consuming this dosage, which is understandable after not smoking for over 30 days.
Both smokers and vapers of this dosage, experienced bloodshot dry eyes, pounding heart rate, paranoia, and an increased appetite. These effects peaked within the first hour of smoking but were shown to last for up to eight hours or longer.
The most profound discovery from this study was that the effects of vaping proved to be much more intense and potent at every dose. According to this research, as published in the JAMA Network Open, “vaporized cannabis produced significantly greater subjective drug effects, cognitive, psychomotor impairment, and higher blood THC concentrations than the same doses of smoked cannabis”.
The results proved that the volunteers who vaped cannabis made twice the amount of mistakes on all of the cognitive tests and they reported that they felt significantly higher with negative effects of being way high and paranoid compared to inhaling cannabis flowers.
Smoking vs Vaping Weed Effects on Lungs
Many of us have experienced first hand, that when you spark up a bowl of green flower, you tend to cough up your lungs and even produce unwanted phlegm. The smoke tends to be a bit harsher than a hit from a cannabis oil cartridge vape pen.
There are a lot of reasons for that. The first and most obvious reason is that when you smoking cannabis flowers, you are actually combusting and burning the herb. The vaping process is much different than that.
To provide you with a better visual understanding of the impact smoking vs vaping has on your lungs, watch this video that highlights how smoking vs vaping affects the lungs and overall consumers’ health. It is important to note that this video is comparing cigarette smoke with a nicotine vaporizer, but there is currently very minimal research on the impact of cannabis vaporizers.
But I believe you’ll get the idea of the difference between inhaling smoked cannabis compared to vaporized cannabis.
Vaping Safety Facts & Tips
The year 2019 was an eye-opening year in regards to understanding the impact vaping has on our health and lungs. Vaping illnesses were hitting multiple demographics across the country left and right. It was getting so bad that the Center of Disease Control (CDC) even sent out a warning to the public to stop vaping entirely until the cause of the illness were found. Below, we’ve outlined the most common questions when it comes to vaping.
Based on the current evidence, vaping is still considered less harmful than smoking.
However, the long answer is, more evidence still needs to be examined as vaping is still so new to the population. The modern vape devices didn’t start showing up on the market until 2003, but they became extremely popular in the mid-2010s.
With the rise of popularity in these devices, many black-market THC vapes were created which is what caused the industry to go into a tailspin. To learn more about these black market vapes, read on below.
Effects of Vaping on Lungs
There is enough evidence to know that smoking flowers with contaminates on it, like pathogens, spores, and mildew can injure smokes that have lowered immune systems. But with vape pens and cartridges, this cannot happen. This is because vape cartridges are created from an intense extraction process that leaves only pure cannabis oil behind.
However, it’s important to note that vaping cannot be considered the safest way to consume cannabis… Yes, you’ll possibility of getting blazed out of your mind, but most or all of the vaping illnesses that were detected happen because of faulty, black market or dirty vaporizer cartridges that cut the pure oil with propylene glycol and vitamin E acetate. Studies show that when the acetate is burnt it has extremely harmful effects on your lungs.
Harmful Negative Effects of Vaping
The CDC has labeled this recent lung disease as EVALI, which stands for e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury. As of January 9, 2020, a total of 2,602 hospitalized EVALI cases have been reported to CDC from all 50 states and U.S. territories and 57 deaths have been associated with this disease.
EVALI latest studies have revealed that vaping can be harmful to blood vessels, cause lung scarring, inflammation and fluid filling the lungs. Most of these cases were reported by young adults who admitted to recently inhaling THC vaping cartridges not purchased at a dispensary, but there were some cases that showed the patient had only smoked nicotine vaporizers.
Long-term effects of smoking
Smoking has many adverse effects on the body in the long term. The CDC report that smoking:
- reduces sperm count
- increases the risk of pregnancy loss or congenital disabilities
- increases the risk of cataracts
- impairs immune system function
- increases general inflammation
- can cause cancer in nearly any part of the body, including the lungs, kidneys, and stomach
- triggers asthma attacks
- causes blockages in veins and arteries
- increases the risk of stroke
- reduces the overall health of a person, causing issues such as missed work and increased healthcare costs
Long-term effects of vaping
Data on the long-term effects of vaping are currently limited. According to the University of Iowa, the idea behind vaping was that it would be a safer way for smokers to get nicotine. However, most evidence suggests that this is not the case. Vaping can:
- damage the lungs
- release free radicals into the body, which promote cancer development
- weaken the immune system
- delay brain development in fetuses, children, and teenagers
Future studies will likely show that vaping has additional long-term health effects that scientists have not yet discovered.
Some people have also reported sustaining burns when recharging e-cigarettes due to defective batteries leading to explosions.
Quitting smoking and vaping
Some people believe that vaping is a good way to quit smoking. However, Harvard Health Publishing point out that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not approved it. Studies have not revealed whether vaping is an effective method of smoking cessation.
The AHA state similar information. They indicate that the studies on this subject are not comprehensive and that vaping to quit smoking may lead to dual use. Dual use occurs when someone vapes and smokes interchangeably.
The CDC recommend that people use an FDA-approved method to help them stop smoking. They also strongly urge people to talk to their doctor about quitting either smoking or vaping.
Vaping vs. smoking weed
A person can use a vaping device to inhale tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the chemical in cannabis that produces a high.
According to a 2018 study that looked at infrequent cannabis smoking in adults, vaping THC produced stronger mind-altering effects than smoking a similar amount of weed.
As a result, vaping THC may produce a faster, stronger high, but it may also mean that people experience more adverse effects.
Vaping and smoking share similar negative effects on the body, such as damage to the lungs and increased cancer risk.
Researchers know more about the long-term effects of smoking than those of vaping. However, vaping produces enough short-term effects to make it, at best, only marginally better than smoking.
People should not use vaping to quit smoking. Instead, they can use FDA-approved methods. A person who would like more advice about quitting can speak to their doctor.