Which Is Healthier? Smoking vs Vaping Cannabis

Americans are getting high in record numbers.  It’s estimated that approximately 1 in 5 people over the age of 12, an estimated 62 million people, have used marijuana in the past year, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. As more states legalize recreational cannabis use, these numbers are likely to keep climbing.

Both smoking marijuana and using a marijuana vape pen deliver the psychoactive compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and other cannabinoids to the body.  There are some differences in the health effects and potential benefits associated with each method. It’s important to note that the long-term health and heart effects of marijuana use are still being studied, and there are no definitive conclusions.

“We absolutely need to research this much more extensively,” said Dr. Peter Grinspoon, one of the leading cannabis researchers in the U.S., a primary care physician at Mass General Hospital and an instructor at Harvard Medical School. “It’s critical that we figure this out.”

Here are some potential health considerations for vaping marijuana vs. smoking marijuana.

What is Difference Between Vaping and Marijuana Vaping?

It’s important to define vaping.  Just like nicotine vaping devices (like Juul) marijuana vapes work by heating a liquid or oil that becomes a vapor that users inhale.  The FDA banned many Juul products largely because Juul didn’t release the ingredients in the vape cartridges that kids were smoking.  The banned products contained massive amounts of nicotine and other toxic ingredients.

Marijuana vapes like Stiiizy contain THC & CBD oil.  For the most part there is much less mystery in what you are inhaling.  Here is statement from Stiiizy.com.

All our products are tested by state-licensed, independent labs to ensure they are free of harmful chemicals such as Benzine, pesticides and metals. We also maintain the highest quality by only using the purest cannabis extracts and botanical terpenes.

It’s important to know this. Many people assume that my Stiiizy, which is half CBD and half THC, is the same thing as a Juul or nicotine vape.  The apparatus is the same, but the vape juice is much different and more clearly defined by Stiiizy.

Heart Health: Vaping vs Smoking Marijuana

The short answer is that the jury is still out.  Conducting scientific research on the health risks associated with smoking cannabis takes decades.  Up until now, all the analysis has been done on older forms of marijuana use which had far less potency that the cannabis that is available today. So determining which is most harmful, the smoke or the THC potency or both, has been inconclusive.

Although most studies have analyzed the smoking of marijuana, more research is needed, Grinspoon said. His best guess is that it’s the smoke — which has the same type of carcinogens and tar that are in tobacco cigarettes — as opposed to the marijuana itself that may be affecting our hearts.

“It’s certainly not as bad as tobacco smoke, which kills 480,000 people a year. But cannabis smoke contains cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and these are things that there’s no way you could even argue that they’re OK for your heart.”, said Dr. Grinspoon

Cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are chemicals that result from burning tobacco, coal, oil, gas, wood and garbage. “If you take a puff once a week at a party, that’s not going to make a big difference to your heart,” Grinspoon said. “But if you’re puffing away on a vape pen, you know, 30 times a day, of course it is going to be bad for your heart.”

Respiratory Health: Vaping vs. Smoking Marijuana

Vaping Marijuana is often considered a less harmful alternative to smoking because it involves heating the marijuana at a lower temperature, which may produce fewer harmful byproducts compared to combustion. This may result in less irritation to the respiratory system.

Combusting marijuana produces tar and other potentially harmful substances that can irritate the lungs and lead to respiratory issues over time.  While vaping may mitigate some of the toxic chemicals of smoke, it’s not without risk, said Dr. Robert Kloner, a cardiologist and chief science officer at Huntington Medical Research Institutes in Pasadena.

“Vaping could be safer than smoking because you’re not inhaling the tars, you’re not going to be inhaling carbon monoxide associated with smoking,” he said.

Are There Long Term Health Effects From Vaping Marijuana?

While there is evidence suggesting that using a marijuana vape pen may have certain advantages over traditional smoking, it’s important to note that the long-term health effects of vaping are still being studied, and the medical community has expressed concerns about potential risks associated with vaping, especially in the context of e-cigarettes and vaping products.

Summary

While it certainly looks like vaping is less harmful than smoking marijuana, it’s crucial to stay informed about the latest research findings and statements from health organizations.  Our knowledge regarding vaping and its health effects is constantly evolving.

If you are considering using a marijuana vape pen for medical or recreational reasons, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional.  Your doctor can provide personalized advice based on your health history and individual circumstances. Always prioritize your health and well-being when making decisions about medical treatments or interventions.