Why vaping weed is healthier than smoking it

— 4
min read

Probably, you already know that there is more than just one way to use cannabis: you can smoke a joint, hit the bong, pack weed into a pipe, eat a so-called magic muffin, vape THC oil, or vaporize dry herb. Each one of these techniques has its pros and cons, but what about potential health risks they might carry?

Today we are covering the two most popular methods – vaping and smoking – to find out which one is better. Read on to learn whether they are safe for you and which one you should choose.

vaping weed in Barcelona photo

Vaping vs smoking weed: difference between smoking and vaping

It might seem like smoking and vaping are quite similar, but in fact, smoking weed tends to be harsher than, for example, a hit from a THC oil vape pen. The reason behind that is simple: smoking a joint involves burning the dried plant while vaping involves vaporizing THC oil or dried plant material and inhaling the vapor.

Smoking and vaping have one similarity, though: both these methods provide almost immediate, although short-term, effects on the body, which peak within 10 to 15 minutes.

Why is smoking weed bad for your health?

The biggest issue with smoking any substance is the process known as combustion. According to research, when we smoke a joint, it releases carcinogenic chemicals — cancer-causing compounds — as it burns. The human lung cannot process the byproducts of combustion. That is why it can lead to respiratory inflammation, which symptoms are:

  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Altered pulmonary function tests
  • Cough
  • Phlegm production

Donald P. Tashkin, M.D., Emeritus Professor of Medicine at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, asserts that marijuana smoking causes visible and microscopic injuries to the large airways. In its turn, it leads to an increased likelihood of developing chronic bronchitis that subsides after cessation of use.

vaping weed in Spain photo

Comparing cannabis vapor to smoke, scientists found the vapors to consist overwhelmingly of THC, the major active component in marijuana, whereas the combusted smoke contained over 100 other chemicals. One of them is PAHs (polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons), carcinogenic toxins that are present in cigarette smoke. Simply put, each hit of a joint is damaging your lungs.

What are the benefits of cannabis vaporization?

So, is vaping weed better than smoking it? Studies have shown that marijuana users report breathing easier after switching to vaping. Besides, the vapor is cleaner than smoke from a joint. Unlike a joint or bong, a vaporizer heats cannabis to below its combustion temperature. This means that the THC is released, but there are no combustion by-products such as tar and toxins.

Are there other benefits? Isaiah, a 24-year-old marijuana user from Brooklyn, claims that vaping also tastes better, smells less, is easier to handle, and is much more economical. According to a study by California NORML and MAPS, vaporizers transform 46% of available THC into vapor, while a joint transforms less than 25% into smoke. So vaping could potentially save your money.

Are there disadvantages to vaping?

Is vaping marijuana safe? The answer depends on what you vape: bud or THC oil. Adam Winstock, a drug use researcher at King's College London, told BuzzFeed News that vaporizing the bud is slightly safer than vaporizing the oil. However, vaping oil is safer than smoking weed, and it is better than smoking a joint mixed with tobacco.

Vaping vs. Smoking Pot: Which is Better For You?Vaping vs. Smoking Pot: Which is Better For You?

What should you vape: buds or oil?

An epidemiologist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and a vaping expert, Jacob Borodovsky, says that it is likely that the processing of THC, rather than the compound itself, is the reason behind health issues. THC oil is an extract that has no other cannabinoids in it, which might be problematic.

Borodovsky believes that the THC component itself does not cause any lung-related issues. In his opinion, what is causing all the trouble is the way the THC is prepared and delivered.

Borodovsky also does not recommend vaping butane hash oil or BHO as it is made by stripping the THC out of marijuana using lighter fluid or other solvents. Solvents are not the only issue. The lack of regulation in Spain means chemicals like propylene glycol and artificial flavors can be added to concentrates without consistent labeling, despite a lack of research into what happens when you inhale the chemicals in high doses.

To sum it up

So, smoking vs vaping? Which one is better? We would say vaping as it is a safer, cleaner, and more enjoyable way of consuming marijuana. On top of that, it does not produce the combustion byproducts, smells less, and gives you a more intense high.

Have you ever tried vaping marijuana? If yes, do not forget to share your experience with us and tell us why you prefer it to other methods of using weed.

Carla Gallego
Author — Cannabis enthusiast, researcher and editor of Cannabis Guide Barcelona