Does Vaping Cannabis Produce Stronger Effects Than Smoking It?

Even with the stigmatized view and the ‘illegal’ status of this green plant in many countries, we have seen cannabis grow with new research, knowledge, and education. If you look back to 50 years ago, the same herbs had an altogether different reputation.

If we look at the ancient way of smoking, it was limited to burning these herbs and inhaling them. Whether it was rolling up in leaves, or through a pipe, the idea remained the same. From thereon came the many types of rolling paper, blunts, cones, filters, serving the purpose of smoking the herbs. As time went by, stoners experimented and came up with mixing tobacco with herbs, or sprinkling kief.

After a few years, we saw the development of glassware in the form of  bongs and aesthetically pleasing pipes. This worked on the notion that as smoke passes through water, it will be filtered and only the purest vapour will hit your lungs. Though they are still a very popular device today, recent excavations in Russia have discovered that the tribal chiefs of the Iranian-Eurasian Scythe tribe once smoked out of golden bongs about 2400 years ago. Now, that’s luxury!

With countries and states embracing this beneficial and dank herb, we have seen development and invention focused on the methods of cannabis consumption. One such development led to the very famous Vaporizers, or most popularly known as Vapes. Instead of ‘burning’ the cannabis to produce smoke, vape heats the material which allows you to enhance the terpene profile and the THC. It is a more discreet method of smoking, and can even hide the weed aroma quite efficiently, ensuring nothing leaks your secrets. They are more travel-friendly, can go on for long sessions after a single charge, and are believed to be safer than smoking cigarettes/joints.

As the new technologies and the most efficient ways to consume herbs came forward, we saw unprecedented growth in the sale of the vaporizer. Head shops everywhere stocked their inventory with different brands and types of vaporizers, as newer cannabis connoisseurs leaned more towards vaping than smoking. Owing to the temperature control, discreetness, smart looks, and simple interface, vapes have become so popular that we are looking at almost 55 million users of vape by 2021! This is also attributed to the fact that many people use vapes with nicotine e-liquids to quit smoking, or flavoured e-juices to enjoy an occasional flavoursome vapour.

But let’s come to the question of the hour – Does vaping produce a much better high than smoking dry herbs? In this article, we will take a look at a study conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine, published in JAMA Network Open in 2018, that experimented with 17 adults to conclude that vaping dry herbs does have a stronger effect than smoking. Let’s look at the study in detail.

The 17 adults selected for this study were infrequent users of cannabis, i.e, no use within the past 30 days. This was confirmed using urine toxicology tests. Moreover, this study did follow into the footstep of previous limitations like administering only single THC doses, and using specific breathing patterns, etc. All the participants attended six different study sessions, separated by a week, and were allowed to use natural breathing patterns. Each participant smoked or vaped cannabis containing either 0, 10 or 25 milligrams of THC.

Once the cannabis was consumed, a Drug Effect Questionnaire(DEQ) was used to understand the effects that they were experiencing. This included sleepiness, dry mouth and eyes, and other physical effects. The Physical effects were gauged with the help of blood samples, heart rate, blood pressure, and their performance in cognitive and psychomotor performance tasks. Once all the effects were analyzed, they were then compared between different consumption. Let’s look at the result.

It was observed that participants who vaped the dry herbs were more under the effect of it when compared to those who smoked it. The DEQ score for 25mg dosage was 77.5/100 when vaping, which dropped down to 66.4/100 when smoking. The vaping group also felt 7% more paranoid and anxious, which are the side-effect of heavy consumption, when compared to those who smoked.

Vaping also clamped down on the participants Divided Attention Tasks. At 10mg dosage, vaping led to a 350% downfall in the performance, and as the dosage reached 25 milligrams, the performance went down by 500%. Moreover, blood tests also revealed that the THC content was higher in those who had vaped.

The experiment concluded that whatever may be the dosage, participants who vaped it felt a much greater effect than the ones who smoked the same amount. In other words, you get more stoned when you’re vaping rather than smoking. The result of the study confirmed what cannabis connoisseurs have been experiencing for decades. The bioavailability of Marijuana is amplified with vaping, as almost 95% of the cannabinoids make it through the heat. On the other hand, smoking makes you lose half the cannabinoids immediately, while another 20% is lost in the smoke. This results in a higher percentage of THC getting into your bloodstream when vaping, leading to a stronger high.

Vaping also has a drawback; the high does not last as long as when you smoke a joint, even though you get super baked when vaping. But, you can easily overcome this by simply vaping another bowl of dry herbs. Since vaping requires less dry herbs than smoking, it is more cost-effective and allows you to consume more.

It is predicted that vaporization will become the primary marijuana consumption in the near future, if it hasn’t already taken over. Vaporization also allows you to taste the complete flavour profile along with the terpenes that are destroyed when smoking. Moreover, complete temperature control is an added benefit to vaping cannabis, as you can adjust it as per your ‘high’ preference.

This brings us to the end of the discussion. The world of cannabis is just beginning to open up for all the potential tokers, and it is time we appreciate what is coming. Much like the advent of vaping, there might be something new in the future which will blow us off again. Similarly, we have seen a rising trend with edibles, as the high experience from them is also a potent and delicious one. We don’t know what the next trend may introduce, but for now, vaping seems to take away the prize.

Author: Guest Contributor

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