Why smoking cannabis is healthier than smoking, according to science.
Regardless of whether one is seeking pleasure or therapeutic relief and treatment, usually CBD smoking benefits are accompanied by a potential burden on our personal health. Although doctors and scientists are increasingly concluding that cannabis is often a safer alternative to opioids, whether you use cannabis as a plant, oil or resin, and whether you use it for medical or recreational purposes, the biggest risk of smoking cannabis is the tobacco itself.
It is the burning, not the cannabis itself, that is the culprit – and that is because cannabis smoke contains the same kind of chemicals found in cigarette smoke. However, unlike smoking cigarettes, researchers find that smoking cannabis is not linked to risk of developing cancer:
According to Donald P. Tashkin, MD, professor emeritus of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (via HuffPo): “Findings from a limited number of well-designed epidemiological studies do not suggest an increased risk of lung or upper airway cancer from light or moderate cannabis use”. And even heavy cannabis use has “much lower risk of lung complications” from smoke inhalation”, said Tashkin.
But is there a solution to this problem? Science says (sort of) yes, and the answer could be literally right under your nose.
Can smoking cannabis cause
“cause visible and microscopic damage to the large airways that increase the likelihood of chronic bronchitis symptoms that resolve after cessation of use”
, according to Tashkin…
…but not her steaming.
The vaporisation of cannabis appears to reduce the harmful pulmonary effects that smoking can cause. And this is most important, as the greatest risk of smoking is in the tobacco itself.
“People who vape report reduced respiratory problems” compared to those who smoke cannabis.”
according to Marilyn Huestis (at BuzzFeed News), head of drug chemistry and metabolism at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, who has studied the physiological effects of vaping cannabidiol.
Unlike a cigarette or bong, vaporizers heat cannabis to temperatures that release cannabinoids – the good stuff secreted by cannabis flowers that cause a “high” sensation – while providing relief from a range of symptoms such as pain, nausea, anxiety and inflammation without creating the toxins associated with burning.
“It was the product we needed in our lives”
said Mark Williams, former Apple developer and CEO of vaping technology company Firefly, in a statement to KINDLAND.
“Firefly was designed around the plant.”
Rachel Dugas, who oversees Firefly’s marketing efforts, told KINDLAND. “And the dynamic convection heating creates what we call ‘the whole plant experience.
According to Dugas, the dynamic convection heating technology
“vaporizes only the contents of the vessel during inhalation”
, to reduce the waste of plant material. And that, “the vapour is created over a range of temperatures, which means that [the user] is able to extract more of the plant’s active ingredients than they would with other vaporisers, with which some terpenes and ingredients would have already evaporated before inhalation.”
“Because nothing is burned, it does not create the same toxic by-products that smoking produces.”
Dugas told KINDLAND.
Hemp before and after vaporisation
The result is that
“respiratory symptoms such as coughing, phlegm and chest tightness… are less severe among those who use vaporisers”,
according to Dr. Mitch Earlywine, a drug researcher and professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Albany.
The positive effect of vaping has also been shown to be greater as the amount of cannabis used increases. According to the researchers,
“regular users of cigarettes, blunts, pipes and water pipes can reduce their respiratory symptoms simply by switching to a vaporizer.”
The use that offers greater security can be the most enjoyable…
The Highway Code is a guide dedicated to safer and more enjoyable drug use created by Global Drug Survey, an independent London-based research company, in which
“people who actually use drugs”
(nearly 80,000 people took part in the 2014 Global Drug Survey.)
The results seem to suggest that the safest drug use may also be the most enjoyable: 38,000 cannabis users voted “using a vaporizer” as the most effective way to reduce any potential harm that smoking cannabis can cause. In addition, 57% of respondents said that using a vaporizer improved their “cannabis-related pleasure”.
From the Highway Code:
“Smoking cannabis is the most dangerous way of using it. It is the burning of cannabis that releases tar and cancer-causing chemicals. Unlike a cigarette or bong, vaporizers produce vapor by heating the cannabis below its burning temperature. This means that THC is released but the smoke containing tar and toxins is significantly reduced. Although the evidence is not sufficient, it is likely that you can significantly reduce the risk to your lungs by switching to a vaporizer. It is also possible that certain types of vaporizers can help protect your health even more.”
Another 2016 study conducted via an online survey by a team of Dartmouth researchers,“Characterizing Vaporizer Use Among Cannabis Users” concluded:
“Those who preferred cannabis vaping reported feeling healthier, and the vapour created by the vaporizer tastes better and offers better results.”
Certainly, vaping has evolved less as a trend and more as a conscious choice for cannabis consumers seeking a more “pure” experience.
With that in mind, Firefly’s Williams says that educating consumers about the vaping method is one of his company’s most pressing challenges:
“It’s a bit of a complicated subject, but it’s vital to understand it.”
Firefly’s Dugas agrees with these claims and refers to vaping as a more “conscious” consumption.
“Thanks to the way [the device] works, you are invited to pay more attention to your breathing, which, like meditation, puts you in the ideal psychology to be present and enjoy your vape session to the fullest.”
Both with the health benefits and the improved experience that cannabis provides, the quality of the vaporizer itself plays a big role, as a sub-standard vaporizer will fall short in at least one category.
Vaping cannabis in numbers
According to a study conducted by California NORML and MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), vaporizers convert about 46% of available THC into vapor, while cigarettes convert less than 25% of THC into smoke. By comparing cannabis vapour with tobacco, the researchers found that the vapours “are overwhelmingly composed of THC, the main active ingredient in cannabis, while the smoke that is burned contains over 100 other chemicals, including several polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and carcinogenic toxins commonly found in cigarette smoke.”
In a 2007 study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (“Smokeless Cannabis Delivery Device Found Efficient and Less Toxic“), “patients assessed the ‘high’ they experienced from both smoking and vaping cannabis, and according to the study’s findings, they found no difference.” In addition, patients were asked which method they preferred: “The vast majority of patients preferred vaping to smoking, choosing the method with the fewest side effects and greatest effectiveness.”
The article was originally published in KINDLAND.