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Vape Nation

By: Gazette Staff

Although medical marijuana holds many medicinal properties, unfiltered smoking is not the cleanest way to get it into your system. Regular consumers of cannabis are always looking for healthier and safer alternatives to ingesting the medicine. Vaporizing or “vaping” of cannabis has gained in popularity all across the nation over the last several years, just as e-cigarettes have. But what exactly is vaporizing? Is it safe?

Vaping is essentially heating up the cannabis without actually burning it. The heat releases the active ingredients into a vapor that is then released into the air in a fine mist created by a vaporizer device. Since no combustion occurs in this process, no smoke is created. While there is very little research on cannabis vaporizing, studies over the years have shown that vaporizing does produce fewer carcinogenic compounds than smoking marijuana because it is heated but not combusted.

Although cannabis smoke is less toxic than cigarette smoke, inhalation of any combustion product is less than desirable. Any type of smoke still contains gases and particulates that can create lung irritation and respiratory problems. In fact, over 100 toxins and compounds are released when cannabis is burned. Smokers are more prone to respiratory infections and bronchitis, but it’s the smoke that gets you, not the cannabinoids. One of the first studies to compare smoking to vaporizing showed fewer respiratory effects with vaping.

Many medical patients have problematic respiratory systems and their lungs may be highly irritated by smoke, so they often find relief in vapor inhalation. Does vaporizing your weed have an effect on
how you’re getting high? Some say vaporizers produce a more clear-headed high because smoke is not inhaled, but there are few studies that show whether vaping and smoking indeed create different types of highs.

A recent 2014 study showed that of about 100 subjects who both smoked and vaporized, patients reported several advantages of vaporizing over smoking, including the lack of stench and a better flavor. They also reported that the same amount of cannabis product produced more effect with vaping. After the study, nearly all participants planned to continue vaporizer use. Novice consumers also tend to prefer vaporizing because the vapor can be inhaled in short puffs of vapor rather than deep breaths of smoke. Plus, people tended to prefer the added benefit that it’s more discreet to use a vaporizer. People perceived the vaporizer as the healthier alternative to smoking cannabis.

As cannabis legalization and acceptance continues to spread across the United States and the world, more scientific studies are being conducted. An increase in information about vaporization and better availability of products is creating more appeal to cannabis users for both recreational and medicinal use. Because more cannabis users are perceiving vaporizers as being less harmful while offering additional benefits, it’s more crucial than ever to encourage continued experimental research about vaporizing as a cannabis delivery method.