Marijuana is having quite a moment. As many U.S. states have begun legalizing marijuana and steps are starting to be taken to legalize it federally, there has been a massive shift in how it’s viewed and who uses it.
Consequently, marijuana is becoming a booming legal industry across the country. As a result, marijuana is becoming much easier to find and in various methods of ingestion that were not previously available or at least not nearly as ubiquitously.
But while society has done away with some of the stigmas associated with smoking weed that resulted from anti-drug propaganda, the main health concern remains the same. Smoking anything is unhealthy.
The Dangers Of Smoking
Burning anything and inhaling the fumes introduces carcinogens into your lungs, and this can lead to numerous health problems. This fact has not changed since tobacco companies admitted that cigarettes are unhealthy, with few, if any, suggesting otherwise in the time since this admission. If anything, we have even more evidence that this is undoubtedly the most harmful effect of smoking weed.
So naturally, advancements have been made in alternative methods of ingesting marijuana, producing the same effects with less serious and ultimately fatal health consequences. Recently, the most popular way that has come about has been the invention of the vaporizer, but is it really healthier than smoking? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is largely still up for debate. But in the short time we’ve studied vaping compared to smoking, significant differences have been discovered.
The Safety Of Vaping
While medical professionals have refrained from outright saying that vaping is safer than smoking, it is clear that vaping does not have the negative effects that smoking does. When vaping, there are no carcinogens introduced to your system. The tar that builds up in smokers’ lungs does not occur when vaping.
As you are not burning anything when vaping, the effects that have been proven to be related to smoking are not present in vaping products. The same is true for second-hand smoke, as no smoke is released while vaporizing the liquid used in modern vapes. So yes, in this particular way, vaping is safer than smoking.
But the problem is, there is not enough research to collect data on specific effects that could be exclusive to vaping. As research is still being done and there are not enough people who have been vaping for more than a decade, it would be impossible to determine long-term effects.
Similarly, it would be difficult to create a significant enough sample to do a scientific study on short-term effects. Such a study would require considerable federal funding and the ability to examine cannabis-derived oil.
This is still not a simple task at the federal level considering marijuana is still classified as a “Schedule IV” drug, limiting its ability to be studied. Therefore, at the moment, all we have to go off of in terms of the detrimental effects of vaping are inconclusive studies and anecdotal evidence.
Concerns About Vaping
Recently, there was a lot of concern surrounding a phenomenon that became popularly referred to as “popcorn lung.” This condition was discovered in individuals in all 50 states and raised a serious alarm about the safety of all vaping products.
Since the commotion, it has been determined that the culprit of this condition was Vitamin E acetate. Vitamin E acetate inhaled into the lungs was causing serious lung conditions and even deaths in some cases. Fortunately for the vaping industry and the users of most vaping products, Vitamin E acetate was being used only in certain marijuana-infused vaping products for flavor purposes.
While the lack of regulation that resulted in this devastating outcome is certainly to blame for the unnecessary deaths associated with this condition, Vitamin E acetate is no longer being used in vaping products.
Because of this harmful chemical no longer being used in vaping products, at least that problem is no longer relevant. But this deadly episode in the ongoing study of vaping raises the concern that there will be more discoveries like this down the road that have not reared their ugly heads in a significant enough way yet.
In terms of the effects related to the respiratory consequences of inhalation, so far, smoking is still more dangerous, as far as data can confidently conclude. The other concern some might have is the psychoactive effects of smoking versus vaping. Studies and anecdotes have suggested that vaping has a more potent effect than smoking does.
Some show concern that this increases the harmful effects of intoxication and impairment related to marijuana usage. Often exaggerated because it takes slightly longer to feel the intoxicating effects, many users will decide to vape again shortly after their first vape because they don’t feel it as quickly as they are used to when smoking. This can lead to a far higher dose being ingested at a higher rate, inducing anxiety, nausea, and increased impairment in some inexperienced users.
Which Is Right For You?
At the moment, there just isn’t enough data or the ability to collect further data soon that would confidently confirm that one is safer than the other. What is clear is neither option is beneficial to your health. The data on smoking is clear and very bad. The information on vaping is currently unclear and likely similarly bad.
So, at this point, the choice is between the devil you know, and the devil you don’t know. If that’s not a decision you’re interested in being forced to make, you can still enjoy the marijuana-fueled experience. There are always edible cannabis options, and they’re popping up everywhere these days.