Vaping cannabis gets people higher than smoking it – and it’s safer, too

Harm Reduction

Vaping cannabis gets users higher than smoking it, according to a small study carried out at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Participants who vaporised cannabis at 25 milligram strength experienced “stronger effects” and had higher concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the psychoactive ingredient) in their blood when compared with those who smoked the same dose.

The study comprised nine men and eight women, whose average age was 27, who were provided with three strengths of cannabis. The participants smoked and vaped cannabis at strengths of 0 milligrams, 10 millograms and 25 milligrams in six separate eight-hour sessions at least one week apart. Participants were qualified to take part if they were deemed healthy and had not used cannabis in the month before the start of the study.

The researchers tested the volunteers’ cognitive and psychomotor skills, and measured their vital signs and the concentration of THC present in their blood. Participants completed surveys to measure their subjective experiences in using the drug, which included whether they felt nauseated, motivated, restless or anxious.

Past studies have compared the vaping and smoking cannabis experiences of regular users, rather than those who do not.

Tom Freeman at the University of Bath’s department of psychology told Newsweek that the methodology of the study was strong as “different doses were compared to placebo in a random order, which was concealed from both participants and experimenters”.

He pointed out, however, that the participants had used pipes, and it was not clear if the methods would extend to the more common method of smoking cannabis that had been rolled into a cigarette.

The findings provide valuable new information to inform the dosing of cannabis in medical settings and should encourage cannabis users to vaporise more than normal smoking.

Vaping is considered safer than smoking due to lower respiratory harms. The NHS and British Lung Foundation have backed e-cigarettes over normal smoking because they contain nicotine without harmful substances produced by smoking tobacco, such as tar or carbon monoxide. Studies by Public Health England, one published in 2015 and one in 2018, have found that e-cigarettes are some 95% less harmful than regular cigarettes.

This of course has implications for cannabis users as a large proportion smoke cannabis mixed with tobacco.

UKCSC clubs promote vaping for this very reason, and Brighton Cannabis Club is the first in the UK to be smoke free.

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