The discussion of whether weed vapes are safer than smokable forms is intense among cannabis aficionados. The answers may vary depending on whom you ask; experienced users tend to prefer their weed in a joint, whereas those getting started with cannabis — especially younger users — typically pick vaping over smoking.
There are many reasons why vaping has recently gained so much momentum, but the main one is safety.
Is vaping actually a safer consumption method than smoking?
We’ll answer this question shortly, but first, let’s focus on definitions and numbers.
What Is Vaping?
Vaping refers to the act of heating cannabis without burning the plant material. Since there’s no combustion, the heat allows the user to inhale more cannabinoids (e.g. THC and CBD) and terpenes for improved therapeutic effects.
These active substances are then contained in the form of vapor through a special vaping device. This can be a vaporizer, vape pen, or vape tank.
Vaporizers are usually designed for vaping dry herbs or concentrates. There are also 2-in-1 units that allow you to work with both forms of cannabis.
Vape pens and tanks aren’t compatible with either of these. You can, however, fill them with special cannabis-infused liquids.
Vaping vs Smoking: A Sneak Peek Into Statistics
Vaping is a rising trend and the numbers reflect its popularity, especially among younger people. Studies show that the number of smokers has declined dramatically in the last five years. According to WebMD, the global acceptance of vaporizers has resulted in the rapid decrease in adult smoking over the last 20 years.
Are Weed Vapes Safer Than Smoking?
The safety of cannabis is defined by how one gets the active ingredients (cannabinoids) into their body. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Drug & Alcohol Dependence has found that the main reason why people decide to ditch smoking cannabis in favor of vaping is that vaporization is safer. This consumption method doesn’t produce harmful toxins such as tar, ammonia, and carcinogens.
New cannabis users prefer to vape because they don’t have to take deep breaths required when smoking — something they’re not accustomed to. Instead, they can take short, steady puffs and control their intake of weed more accurately.
Some long-time smokers disregard the safety argument and they also claim that the effects of smoked and vaped weed are the same. Researchers, however, disagree with this opinion. Most vaporizers are designed with elements that don’t release toxins.
Unlike smoking, weed vapes are safer because the vapor isn’t irritating to the lung and doesn’t cause respiratory issues, which is often problematic to medical marijuana patients.
Speaking of which, vaporization allows the user to relieve their symptoms faster, and in a cleaner and healthier way. Weed vapes prevent the toxins released by the plant from being transferred into the body, contrary to what happens during combustion.
Does Smoking Cannabis Really Cause Lung Issues?
Although there are many premises that smoking cannabis can cause respiratory issues, there’s no definitive proof to confirm it. Research on this subject is inconclusive as of now.
Nonetheless, smoking cannabis has been associated with irritations to the mouth, throat, and lungs. New users can feel very uncomfortable when smoking their greens for the first time. The irritation is caused by the combustion of tar and other by-products and inhaling them at the same time directly into your lungs.
Benefits of Vaping Weed
According to a 2014 study, one of the major benefits of weed vapes is the discreteness. Vaping allows the user to stay low-profile because it doesn’t produce the tell-tale smoke of marijuana. In addition, the cannabinoid-rich vapor smells and tastes better, thanks to the lower temperatures at which the vaporizer operates.
Lower heat preserves more terpenes, which are aromatic molecules responsible for the fragrance and flavors of cannabis strains — they can also amplify or dampen some effects of THC.
The study also found that vaping produced better effects than smoking when the same amount of weed was used. Vaping also gave the users a cleaner form of high than smoking cannabis. That’s because weed vapes don’t deliver as many toxins into the body as smoking does.
Not only are weed vapes safer than smoking, but they’re also more efficient. During the 2017 Cannabis Health Summit, it was stated that when people smoke cannabis, they immediately incinerate 50% of the cannabinoids that are responsible for the medical benefits of weed.
Getting the Right Temperature for Vaping
Temperature is a make-or-break factor in vaporizing marijuana. If you use too much heat, there’s a chance you’ll combust the plant material, which isn’t the best way to use a vaporizer.
On the other hand, if the temperature is too low, the cannabinoids and terpenes may not be fully activated.
According to a study conducted by Dale H. Gieringer, the coordinator of California NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), vapers should heat their flowers up to 365 F. Anything beyond that increases the chance of burning the herb. The average temperature range for effective vaporization is 330 to 370 F.
What Are the Potential Risks of Vaping Cannabis?
Aside from too high temperatures, some units can release harmful toxins to your system, but this mostly applies to inferior vaporizers that come with plastic elements. As long as you stick to high-quality devices that use quartz or titanium heating coils, you’re going to be all good.
On the practical side, using a vaporizer has a difficult learning curve, especially for older users. Waiting for the unit to heat up, cleaning the piece after each use, setting the right temperature — these are the most common reasons why some people decide to stick to the old-school way of consuming weed.
On the whole, weed vapes are hands down safer than smoking. Vaporization almost eliminates the risk of absorbing harmful toxins along with the vapor. Vaping also reduces the onset of marijuana’s effects, which comes particularly handy for medical cannabis users. If you have a high-quality vaporizer and know how to operate on vaping temperatures, this consumption method will be your best bet if you’re looking for a safe and effective way to use weed.
Do we have any dedicated cannabis vapers out there? Let us know why you prefer vaping over smoking.