Why Researchers Say You Might Want to Smoke Marijuana Rather Than Vape It

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A recent study determined that vaping cannabis can produce a significantly stronger high than smoking the drug.
Researchers suggest people trying marijuana for the first time build up a tolerance to the drug before vaping it. Getty Images
There are currently 10 states that allow for recreational cannabis use and more than twice as many that allow people to use the substance for medically approved reasons.
Because of these changes, more people have become open to the idea of trying cannabis for the first time. Many will try to decide which is the best ingestion method.
Edibles and tinctures aside, smoking and vaping marijuana remain popular ways to consume for a variety of reasons, including the quick and easy high.
But smokers and vapers naive to cannabis should note all the different levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in different kinds of cannabis.
That’s the psychoactive chemical — or the stuff that gets you high — found in the plant.
This data should be noted on the packaging of the product, from the concentrated oils meant for vaping or the plant meant for traditional smoking.
While it’s best to seek help from a qualified professional, such as an experienced “budtender” at a dispensary, experts warn that not all smoking methods are the same.
Some can deliver a stronger dose than others.
When trying marijuana, experts suggest you take the same kind of caution that a chef uses when adding salt. Use a bit at a time — you can always put more in, but you can’t take it out.
Smoking vs. vaping
Vaping has become a popular way for people to consume cannabis.
In this manner, the cannabis is housed in a thin, pen-like device. It’s less odorous and more discreet than smoking.
Many users also find it much less irritating on their throats than traditional smoking.
But, according to new research, it’s also similar to taking big swigs of a high-alcohol IPA rather than sipping on a Coors Light.
Research out of Johns Hopkins University in Maryland suggests that vaping marijuana versus smoking it delivers a more powerful punch.
Researchers at the school’s Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit tested 17 healthy adults who smoked and vaped various amounts of marijuana — from none to 25 milligrams of THC — for the first time in at least a month.
The lower doses created less impairment, but the 25-milligram dose affected everyone, including one research subject who experienced hallucinations.
But no matter the dose, researchers in this small double-blind placebo trial found that no matter the amount of THC, those who vaped marijuana reported more powerful effects, including serious impairment in their reaction time and overall cognitive abilities.
Johns Hopkins researchers said their findings “should be considered with regard to regulation of retail cannabis products and education for individuals initiating cannabis use.”
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Dr. Jordan Tishler, a Harvard-educated physician as well as president and chief executive officer of the Association of Cannabis Specialists, said that the Johns Hopkins study confirms what he and other cannabis advocates have been saying for years.
On a puff-for-puff or gram-for-gram basis, vaporizing leads to more intoxication, but that’s not how the study’s findings should be interpreted.
“With more efficient systems, you simply need or should take less,” Tishler told Healthline. “This ultimately leads to fewer trips to the dispensary for the patient and less money spent on cannabis.”
And, for those who don’t use too much or too often — or those trying it for the first time — there are some unwanted potential side effects.
Cannabis, like any other substance that alters your state of consciousness, is not entirely safe or right for everyone.
But part of it starts with helping the body build a tolerance to it.