Marijuana: Vaping vs. Smoking … What Are the Differences?

Over the past several years vaporizing or “vaping” marijuana has become a popular method of use in addition to smoking and edibles. What differentiates vaping from smoking? Basically vaping is the heating of marijuana to a temperature below it’s burning or ignition point to release the active ingredients. The active ingredients are released into the air and turned into a fine mist by a vaporizer. There is no smoke since the marijuana is not actually burned. You have a choice of grinding your own marijuana, or using oils, similarly to nicotine vape pens.

Marijuana vaporizer types
A wide range of portable marijuana vaporizers

Is Vaping Safe?

In surveys of those who vape rather than smoke, vaping is perceived to have health benefits and be safer and less harmful to their health than smoking marijuana. Vaporizers are designed for inhalation without potentially harmful smoke toxins.

What does the scientific research say ? Although there is not a great deal of research on vaping to date , the research that has been conducted shows that vaping produces far less of the harmful by-products that conventional smoking does. Cannabis smoke is less toxic than cigarette smoke but inhalation of any combustion product is not desirable. Any type of smoke contains gases and particulates that have negative effects on the respiratory system. Over 100 toxic compounds are released when marijuana is burned.

Negative effects of marijuana smoking and second-hand smoke

One study comparing smoking with vaping showed that vaping had fewer respiratory effects than smoking. Burning smoke produced while igniting marijuana flowers is the source of negative effects on lung tissue, not the active cannabanoid substances. Thus, a method such as vaping which does not produce smoke is less injurious.

Benefits of Marijuana Vaporization

Many patients have respiratory problems which are aggravated by smoke but find that vaporization does not aggravate their symptoms. In one study two groups were given 3 strengths of marijuana with one group smoking and the other group vaping. Blood tests afterwards showed no significant differences in blood THC levels for the two groups but showed a significant increase in carbon monoxide expired for the group smoking the marijuana.

 

Are There Any Disadvantages to Vaping?

Users report that the setup of the vaporizer, the need to grind the marijuana into a fine powder, waiting for the vaporizer to heat up, and cleaning after each use are disadvantages. In addition to the process being more involved, the initial investment in a desktop or portable vape is relatively expensive, although in the long run there is a savings on the amount of marijuana used.

The Importance of Vape Temperature

The combustion temperature of marijuana is 451 degrees F. Below this temperature each of the individual cannabanoid substances has its own vaporization point. As you approach 451F the total amount of the active cannabanoids released increases. The vape temperature can be set to maximize a particular cannabanoid for a particular health issue. The user is able to specifically target an individual component of the marijuana while generating no smoke.

Future Research

As vaping becomes more popular, it becomes more important to conduct meaningful research to assist the user in having the most positive experience possible. There is a wealth of knowledge still to be gained to help the medical marijuana user, and improve safe recreational use as well.

  • ava williams

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