The subject of which method, vaping or smoking cannabis, is best is a heavily debated one. The statement What is Best? always poses far more questions than it answers. What is best for one person certainly is not always best for the next and the majority of the time, perceptions of what is the best, are based on subjective opinion. Here is our take on dry herb vaping vs. smoking cannabis.
The question of whether to vape or smoke cannabis has gained support from both sides. As a result, it is hard to arrive at a definitive judgement, based on the fact that there is no clear cut case.
I am of the opinion, it is always more helpful and insightful to look at the facts of the matter. So, rather than give my opinion, I will present 5 facts that should help the reader decide who wins the battle of vaping vs smoking cannabis.
Is Vaping Weed Better for your Health than Smoking?
Arguably the most important question on people’s minds when considering whether to smoke or vape is with regards to health.
Whilst the majority of people agree that vaping is a healthier alternative to smoking tobacco, there are still those that believe smoking marijuana provides no real threat to their health. The common belief is that without the presence of tobacco leaf (which is scientifically proven to irreversibly damage the lungs and airways) that cannabis plant alone, is completely safe to burn and smoke. However, as with smoking tobacco, burning weed in order to inhale the smoke still comes with its own health implications.
The combustion of any material inevitably produces a whole host of by-products that are harmful to our health. Burning marijuana will release toxins, carcinogens (cancer causing compounds), irritants and tar. Inhaling cannabis smoke involves ingesting all these by-products, putting the smoker at many of the same risks as tobacco smoking.
Although research has found no clear links to cannabis smoke causing cancer, it is known that the smoke contains over 50 carcinogens ie substances that are known to cause cancer. The most focussed research currently is examining the compound benzyprene. This is known to alter a critical tumor suppressor gene and therefore potentially poses a real threat.
Whilst the experts cannot categorically state that cannabis smoke causes cancer, it is the general consensus that it certainly increases risk. What is certain though, is that inhaling smoke of any kind will increase respiratory symptoms. Side effects of smoking weed will include airway inflammation, smoker’s cough and increase in sputum production.
In addition to the direct harm smoking can cause the participant, there is also the issue of second hand smoke affecting those around him or her. Passive smoking around cannabis smokers is harmful in exactly the same way as tobacco smoking is.
Vaporizing cannabis will certainly lead to far less exposure to the harmful compounds previously mentioned. The expert opinion is that whilst vaporizing weed can not be deemed 100% safe it is at least 95% less harmful.
Does Vaping Get You Higher Than Smoking?
Maybe the second most pressing question on a weed enthusiast’s mind is how a vaping high compares to smoking?
Those that have always smoked their weed maybe slightly cynical in this area, the assumption being that vaping will soften or dilute the experience. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth and there have even been scientific studies to prove it!
Whilst it generally concurred that vaping and smoking provide differing experiences, there has been no definitive answer in which will achieve the best ‘high’. The opinion of which is best in the vaping Vs. smoking has been subjective and very much down to personal preference. Some prefer the cleaner, purer experience of a vaping high, whilst others are drawn to the harder hitting impact of a smoke high.
Thanks to science, we are able to look at the facts and studies have revealed some pretty concrete evidence, supporting the argument that vaping marijuana will get you higher than smoking if you consider the vaping Vs. smoking.
A fascinating study by John Hopkins Medicine, published in JAMA Network Open, November 2018 showed that, amongst infrequent users, vaping cannabis produced stronger effects. Most significantly, the study showed that vaped THC “produced greater pharmacodynamic effects and higher concentrations of THC in blood compared with equal doses of smoked cannabis.” Of the volunteers, none of whom smoked or vaped weed for 30 days prior to the experiment, reported more potent effects from vaping cannabis. This included significant impairment in cognitive abilities and reaction times.
This research supports the evidence that the bioavailability of marijuana increases when it is vaporized as opposed to when it is smoked. When you smoke a joint, at least half the cannabinoids are lost almost immediately. In contrast, vaporization retains up to 95% of the weed’s cannabinoids and terpenes. Vaping marijuana equates to an estimated bioavailability rate of up to 56%. A far higher percentage of THC entering the bloodstream, means a far more effective high is achieved from vaping.
Typically, smoking a joint will provide a faster high which will last longer, this is often confused as a better high. However, the hit is much more likely to leave the user feeling ‘stoned’ as in lethargic, sleepy and unsociable. A vaping hit is less intense but the higher concentration of THC enables the user to feel the true effects of all the cannabinoids and terpenes in their purest form. A vaping high is much more likely to enhance creativity, provoke imaginative conversation and give you the giggles!
Finally, the added benefit of vaping weed allows the choice of both weed vaporizers or concentrate. For those that want to achieve a maximum THC high or just prefer the non-high effects of CBD, a wax vaporizer or CBD vaporizer can be used.
The question of whether the temperature weed is cooked at makes that much of a difference is a crucial one. The temperature cannabis is baked at, makes a significant difference to the overall experience. When weed is smoked, the matter is heated to such a high temperature that it combusts, extinguishing many of the cannabinoids and terpenes. Smoking a joint gives the user no control over the temperature at which the weed burns.
In contrast to smoking weed, vaping allows the user to set his or her own temperature and fully customize their experience. There is no single ‘best’ temperature to vape weed, however, there are specific temperatures which we know will optimize a particular effect. Precise temperature control is standard in most dry herb vaporizers now. This allows the user to vape their cannabis at their preferred temperature allowing for a completely bespoke experience.
The temperature at which the vaporizer is set will determine which cannabinoids and terpenes are released. The ability to alter the chemical structure in such a way enables the user to control their high or medication.
Does Vaping Weed Taste Better?
There is a strong argument that says the taste acquired from vaporized marijuana is far superior to that of smoking it. This comes back to the temperature control and optimising the vaping device to release specific terpenes and cannabinoids. Experienced cannabis users can even identify individual flavours and aromas when vaping. Identifying specific strains and subtle nuances is far less likely when smoking.
There are two main reasons why the flavour derived from smoking is not as clean and pure as vaporizing. Firstly, the extremely high temperatures kill off a large proportion of the terpenes and flavonoids that provide the good taste in the first place. Secondly, the bi-products caused by the chemical reaction of combustion, distort the flavour further. Smoke releases a more dense substance that is invariably quite hot and harsh on the throat.
The process of vaporization is far more subtle and controlled. The herb is gradually heated but at a much lower temperature than when you burn the plant. The compounds are extracted through evaporation and the liquid is then transferred into a vapor gas. The vapor passes through an air filter and cooling system before leaving the mouthpiece, ready to be inhaled.
As a result, the vapor has a distinctive flavour depending on the strain and quality of marijuana that has been used. The cool air pushed through the vapor also intensifies the taste and aroma.
Vaping Weed Is Far More Discreet Than Smoking
The final fact to consider in the vaping Vs. smoking debate is how vaping provides far more discretion. This is extremely appealing to a wide audience of cannabis lovers, as well as those using medicinal marijuana.
Firstly, vaping marijuana doesn’t produce anywhere near as much of an odour as smoking . There is even less smell when vaping at lower temperatures. As a result, the user can always be in control of this aspect and vape their weed unnoticed.
Another benefit of vapor is that, unlike smoke, it is a gas that simply dissipates in the air. The aroma from vapor is very momentary, unlike smoke particles that cling to clothing, hair and furniture. Whether vaping weed indoors or out you can fly low below the radar and leave no long-lasting telltale signs behind.
Secondly, the discretion of a vaping device prevails above a joint. The joint has a kind of iconic status worldwide and revealing one from your pocket in public will always engage the eyes of those around you. Weed vaporizers, on the other hand, can be subtle and unremarkable in appearance. If this point is of importance to the user they can choose a weed pen that resembles an e-cigarette, or even a little mod unit that will blend into any crowd of regular vapers.
Most manufacturers design their devices with discretion as one of their priorities, they fully understand how important it is to the majority of the vaping community to be able to vape on the go without drawing unnecessary attention.
When it comes to vaping vs. smoking, the opinion will always be split. Some traditionalists simply cannot make the change from smoking to vaping and the joy they derive from it cannot be matched, let alone surpassed. For others, the factors mentioned above will have a strong influence over the decision of whether to vape or smoke.
For many, it’s a no brainer, as they realise all the many positives to be gained from vaping herb. For health reasons alone, this is clearly becoming a much more attractive option. We are now seeing sales in dry herb vaporizers peaking to its highest numbers yet and it does not look like slowing down.
Susan Henretty became a natural health activist over 10 years ago, after personal experience led her to research the benefits of alternative therapies.
In 2018, Susan and her partner decided to combine their business skills with their shared interest in herbal health and vaporizers. As a result they co-founded Kronicvapes.
Based on her previous interest in the holistic field, this inspired Susan to begin her own regular, health blog. Her writing aims to inform and inspire others; specifically in regards to the beneficial properties of vaporizing natural herbs.
Furthermore, as a herbal health advocator, she endeavours to bring her audience the latest global news and politics, regarding cannabis law; science; opinion and fact based evidence.