Is Vaping safe? Smoking vs Vaping Marijuana
As marijuana use is gradually legalized across the United States, we're all beginning to see that this drug might not deserve the scorn it’s always received from the law. In fact, far from being the harmful substance we’ve all been led to believe, we’re starting to realize that this herb comes complete with a whole host of health benefits.
As a testament to this fact, both recreational and medical uses for the drug are now 100% legal in states including:
- Washington D.C.
Those are just the states where recreational use is allowed! A further seventeen states also offer legal marijuana on medical grounds. For many, this isn’t surprising considering that this substance provides health benefits that include but are not limited to:
- Relief of chronic pain
- This is perhaps the most widely spread health benefit of marijuana. The drug contains hundreds of chemical compounds, many of which are cannabinoids. The chemical makeup of cannabinoids is widely linked to the relief of various chronic pains.
What’s more, the natural composition of marijuana means that it’s often a healthier alternative than prescription painkillers. Many cases of medical marijuana are therefore prescribed for this reason.
- Mental health benefits
- Far from the image of a paranoid cannabis smoker, we’re now beginning to see that marijuana can offer a host of mental health benefits. Some of note include:
- Treatment for depression
- A way to ease anxiety
- Help through PTSD
- Regulation and prevention of diabetes
- The American Alliance for Medical Cannabis (AAMC) has conducted research that proves marijuana can also help to both regulate natural insulin and prevent diabetes. This is because the substance has been found to stabilize blood sugars, lower blood pressure, and improve blood circulation.
- Help to lose weight
- While we all commonly associate marijuana smoking with the munchies, the drug can help with the loss of weight in obese individuals. This is to do with the insulin regulation mentioned above.
- Improved lung capacity
- Unlike harmful toxins found in the lungs of tobacco smokers, evidence suggests those who smoke marijuana using the correct filters could improve lung capacity instead of doing damage. This is because filtered cannabis smoke is entirely harmless, while also training your lungs to hold deep breaths for more extended periods.
- Fighting cancer
- Our quest for fighting cancer is ongoing, and there’s substantial evidence to suggest that marijuana could help us advance here. Certain types of cancer show significant positive responses to this substance.
- Slow development of Alzheimer’s
- Cannabis’s endocannabinoid contains anti-inflammatories that fight brain inflammation which could lead to Alzheimer’s. While this isn’t a complete cure in itself, it can drastically slow the development of Alzheimer’s in older patients.
These are just some of the top health benefits of weed that we’re noticing as marijuana use becomes more wide-spread. Studies are also being conducted that are looking into the effects of marijuana on autism, ADHD, and even epilepsy. Even just looking at what we know so far, though, it’s fair to say marijuana seems like one of the most inclusive positive medications available to us.
That being said, damning reports from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention about potential marijuana-related deaths this week have shaken many users to the core. These reports focus around vaping, a method of use that many users have assumed to be safer than smoking itself.
Sadly, as the CDC reports, a shocking five vaping-related deaths have been reported, with the majority of cases relating seemingly relating to the vaping of marijuana.
Those are shocking statistics for a substance that so far has only had positive health benefits. Understandably, questions are being raised across the country? Is weed dangerous? Is vaping dangerous? What’s really going on?
Before assuming the worst, though, it’s vital to understand the facts of the cases that have been reported so far.
In the last couple of months, some 450 instances of the mystery illness have been reported across 33 states. 6 Deaths have been reported in California, Indiana and Minnesota. Most of these cases have been youth and young adults.
An investigation into the deaths reveals that all but one of these cases related to vaping products containing THC (the psychoactive compound found in marijuana). However, much of the focus and scrutiny is around the use of vape products rather than marijuana itself.
It’s easy to jump to the worst scenario in cases like these, but conclusions are impossible to come by when even health officials are unsure of what’s happened. While we’re still waiting to hear the causes of these mysterious illnesses, it raises one pressing question for cannabis users- is vaping really safer than smoking?
The real risks of smoking
As vaping has gained popularity over the recent years, it’s moslty been marketed as a safer alternative to smoking the marijuana flower. Of course, in light of new evidence and with potential lung capacity benefits in mind, it seems that smoking deserves a re-trial.
In reality, there’s no getting past the fact that smoking cannabis does pose some potential health issues. Smoking anything can be damaging, after all, and even the health benefits of marijuana can’t negate that fact. Still, to say that smoking is worse for your health would be a pretty gross oversimplification.
Like anything, there are steps you can take to overcome any risks that smoking may pose. What’s more, this form of use has the upper hand right now as it’s a known entity compared to the uncertainty surrounding vaping.
As you may expect, it isn’t possible to smoke safely without first understand the risks involved in the process. Without further ado, then, let’s consider why exactly smoking has such a bad reputation.
Mixing with tobacco
Traditionally, joints are rolled using a mix of marijuana and tobacco. Even blunts are rolled in tobacco-originated papers. For some users, the addition of nicotine is a personal preference, but that isn’t the only reason for including this substance in the smoking process.
Many users find, for example, that marijuana generally smokes better when mixed with tobacco. Equally, many find that this is a fantastic way to take their supplies that further.
The problem here, of course, is that tobacco is an incredibly harmful substance. So harmful, in fact, that ongoing use can negate the health benefits you might otherwise see from the marijuana plant.
Smoking tobacco kills 480,000 people per year in the USA, and is the leading cause of preventable death. That’s a significant difference compared with marijuana, and it’s also a considerable incentive to steer clear of smoking tobacco. With a tobacco mixture, users face health risks including but not limited to:
- 2-4x increased risk of heart disease
- 2-4x increased risk of stroke
- 25x more chance of developing lung cancer (for men)
- 25.7x more chance of developing lung cancer (for women)
What’s more, smoking has been related to ongoing and persistent health issues, including:
- Gum disease
- Difficulty conceiving/carrying baby to full-term
- Reduced fertility
- Type 2 diabetes
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Decreased immune function
- Increased inflammation in the body
As you can see from this list, these points are counterintuitive to the benefits of marijuana smoking. As advocates of healthy smoking, we strongly discourage users from mixing tobacco with marijuana.
While it is true that cannabis itself can’t damage your lungs, the carcinogens created when burning any substance can still cause a fair amount of damage to your lungs, and has even been linked with cancer.
What’s more, smoking marijuana can also leave users exposed to tar. This is worrying indeed, especially considering that the American Lung Association report marijuana smokers are exposed to more tar per breath than tobacco smokers. This is because marijuana inhalation usually involves holding the smoke in the lungs for longer.
You’ll remember that this is in direct contrast to the potential lung benefits we mentioned at the beginning of this post. And, it could well lead to significant lung conditions of its own. A study published in 2013 in Cancer Causes & Control also found that heavy marijuana smoking might raise the risk of lung cancer.
Worried about tar and carcinogens entering your lungs. Check out our article Weedgets: A Healthier Way to Smoke
The real risks of vaping
With those smoking risks in mind, vaping can seem like a logical, safe alternative. Of course, that assumption has very much been thrown into question recently, with many people wondering whether vaping is actually worse than smoking marijuana.
In reality, this isn’t a cut-and-dried issue, but it seems that the belief that vaping is a clearly safer solution was naive at best. In truth, vaping holds many health risks on its own and, to keep this fight 100% fair, we’re going to break down the two main issues here.
Let’s not forget, we’re getting into some theoretical territory here. No set conclusions have been drawn relating to these vape-based health complaints yet. Even still, here are some of our biggest concerns with vaping.
Vape pen toxins
Pre-prepared vape pens are a common and simplified way to vape marijuana, but they’re currently right in the crosshairs as the leading cause for these current health complaints. Issues here arise when carrier agents are added in the manufacturing process to help marijuana heat and burn more smoothly through the vape pen.
Chemical exposure here can include pesticides, fertilizers, and even heavy metals. While it is true that these substances can come in contact with marijuana during the growing process, concentrated extracts increase their potency and chance of harm. Worse, chemicals like butane and hexane are used for turning marijuana into an extract.
While manufacturers do attempt to remove these toxins before release, trace amounts can remain and can pose significant risks when inhaled at high temperatures.
Vape pens sold from unlicensed or unregulated vendors seem to be even worse when it comes to toxin content. This is because there are no tests in place to monitor the chemical levels that remain aftter processing. Other harmful toxins are also liable with backstreet vape products.
In the wake of vape-related deaths, Mitch Zeller, director at the FDA advised, “If you’re thinking of purchasing one of these products off the street, out of the back of a car, out of a truck, in an alley, or if you’re gonna then go home and make modifications to the product itself using something that you purchased from some third party or got from a friend, think twice.”
Higher THC concentrations
It’s also worth noting that vape pen extracts tend to contain much higher THC content than produced when smoking marijuana. This was evidenced in a 2018 study from Johns Hopkins Medicine, which found that infrequent users got much higher after vaping marijuana rather than smoking it.
Study leader Ryan Vander reported, "What our study suggests is that some people who use cannabis infrequently need to be careful about how much cannabis they use with a vaporizer, and they should not drive, even within several hours after use.”
THC is the psychoactive component in marijuana. It can cause hallucinations, nausea, and paranoid thoughts. After vaping, someone who can usually smoke without worry may be at increased risk of harm to themselves or others for this reason alone.
Until more research is performed on the use of vapes, we encourage users to use extreme caution if you’re going to use a vape.
So what does this all mean? Does it mean that you shouldn’t smoke at all? Surely not. Does it mean that you should always make informed smoking decisions? Definitely.
Luckily, whether you choose to vape or smoke, there are some steps you can take to make sure you’re always acting with safety in mind. Strangely, these steps are pretty much the same for both methods. To prove the point and increase your chances of staying safe while moving forward, we’re going to look at them here.
Use purification equipment
As you’ve seen during this article, toxins are a common feature of health complaints for both smoking and vaping. In fact, these seem to be the main reason for marijuana-related illnesses anywhere. They also stand to undo many of the benefits you could experience from using this substance in the first place. That’s terrible news, but it’s still a positive thing to realize.
The fact is that, once you’re aware of the potential for toxins in either smoking or vaping, you can take steps to overcome then.
For smokers, purification filters like those we offer at Weedgets are a fantastic option here. By using these for your various smoking applications, you can make sure that you’re not exposing yourself to potentially harmful substances like tar.
The smoking pipes also on offer here at Widgets are a fantastic solution, too. These do away with any need for tobacco and allow you to burn marijuana without any of the harm. Pair these with our filters adapters, and you can start enjoying those lung-expanding benefits in no time.
For vapers, steering clear of pre-prepared vape pens is always the best option. Instead, invest in vapes that allow you to grind and insert your own marijuana. This can work wonders for avoiding the toxin exposure that’s behind so many worrying problems at the moment.
Always buy from reputable companies
Another vital lesson in this disturbing incident is that of buying from reputable companies. As mentioned, no one reason has been highlighted as a cause for problems, but there’s a real chance that unlicensed vaping is behind this influx. Sadly, this provides a harsh lesson in what can happen when you buy any smoking equipment from untrusted and unknown sources.
Of course, this is nothing new. While there are countless benefits to the spreading legalization of marijuana, the chance to regulate supplies is up there as one of the best. Instead of having to trust in backstreet products and flowers that have been sprayed and exposed to goodness knows what, there are endless reputable marijuana suppliers out there.
By buying your supply from these rather than backstreet dealers, you guarantee you’re getting the best and purest cannabis possible for your long term health.
Supplies are also no exception here. As we’ve learnt the hard way, untested vape pens can have catastrophic consequences. Equally, buying anything like pipes or filters from companies you don’t trust could be a mistake. You’ll have no way of knowing what toxins you could expose yourself to this way.
You won’t even know if such products are fit for use. A poorly made vape pen, for example, could combust when you use it. Equally, a poorly made filter could disintegrate or even begin letting off harmful fumes when you’re smoking through it. This would not only prevent such products from serving their intended purpose, but it could also do further damage in your efforts for a healthy experience.
Whether you’re smoking or vaping, then, always make sure to check the credentials of a company before you buy from them, and avoid buying off street vendors at all costs.
Use with care in a safe space
Last but not least, smokers and vapers alike should make sure to always use in a safe space. Don’t let the health benefits on offer here confuse you. Marijuana is still a substance, and you need to take due care if you want to enjoy it safely. As suggested by experts above, this means being sure to hold off on activities like driving for at least a few hours after smoking.
In a general sense, you should also aim to make sure that you’re in a safe and comfortable space when you smoke, vape, or whatever else. This is especially true for vaping, where those highly concentrated levels of THC could leave you at risk if you aren’t careful.
In many cases for infrequent users, it’s also beneficial to get a sober friend or family member to come along for the ride at least the first few times. This way, you can test out marijuana without once leaving yourself exposed to the risks that can come along with intoxication.
Looking for tips for smoking marijuna for the first time? We’ve got you covered.
It’s also worth noting that you should avoid smoking around strangers. If you feel ill at ease or don’t know people, you could trigger paranoia or even leave yourself at risk of robbery or worse. If you’re smoking or vaping at home, though, you’re sure to have a good time without those same dangers.
A final word
In all honesty, there is no one ideal form of marijuana use. As we’ve discussed in this post, there is also no ‘safest’ option. Broadly, the forms your marijuana consumption take are down to your personal preferences and the individual steps you take towards safety.
Recent events have certainly taught us that vaping isn’t a guaranteed safe method, but then that’s true for any form of intake. In reality, the safety you find from methods like these is down to how you approach them and the equipment you have to hand.
Luckily, we at Weedgets have plenty of filters to prevent throat irritation and chemical exposure no matter what. These can make for a safer marijuana experience all around and can make way for the multitude of health benefits we mentioned at the beginning of this post.
Note, too, that smoking and vaping aren’t the only contenders in this battle. If neither of these suit or the potential hazards have you worried at the moment, you could always test some alternative methods like cooking your flowers into brownies, cookies, or various other tasty treats!
Either way, keeping your wits about you and knowing the risks is the best way to a safe experience every time.