For the last several years, vaping has become increasingly popular, along with the debate about which is safer: smoking traditional flower or vaporizing. Some people are flower-smoking purists for their own personal reasons, while others will only vape. There have been a lot of technological advances with vaporizing, and some of those changes have made medicating more accessible.
Some of these advances allow for strategic dosing, which allows for better treatment. While vaporizer proponents may enthusiastically endorse vaping as the safer alternative, there are is very little evidence to back that claim. Limited studies exist regarding which method is safer, though safety goes beyond physical effects.
For instance, because vaping is a more discreet method, it can be a safer to medicate during times isn’t accepted. Furthermore, with the technology allowing for specific dosing, the risk for over-consumption is very low. This helps for when you need to medicate at work or in other situations where your livelihood could be compromised.
Additionally, smoking flower involves combustion, which can irritate the throat and lungs. While it has been shown that smoking cannabis doesn’t cause cancer, it could potentially worsen respiratory issues. Combustion also destroys up to 50% of the cannabinoids. For those who are sensitive to smells, or for social situations where it may be a problem, the obvious lingering scent of flower is inconvenient.
In the first study regarding vaping, 96 participants identified several benefits to vaping: no smoke smell, more effect from same amount of flower, better taste, and better perceived health benefits. The downsides were convenience-related: difficulty with set-up and the time it takes to use. If the battery dies and there is no way to charge, you’re left without a way to medicate.
For this reason, smoking flower continues to be a preferred method of consumption for some. If you have a lighter or match, you can medicate. Moreover, natural cannabis flower provides the most full-spectrum, whole medicine available. Smoking flower allows for the full Entourage Effect, which is when all the compounds in the plant work synergistically.
Although vaping versus smoking cannabis hasn’t been studied much, evidence is mounting that for nicotine, e-cigarettes have fewer health costs than cigarettes. Cigarettes (unlike pure cannabis flower) include additives, and the health risks of tobacco are dramatically different than cannabis, but perhaps some of the health differences will prove parallel. In one of the first studies of respiratory health that compares vaping and smoking cannabis, subjects self-reported fewer negative health effects.
Regardless of which method you prefer—vaping or smoking—don’t hold it in for too long. Despite popular belief, the length of time smoke is held (without exhaling) has no bearing on the effect. In fact, all it does is allow for your lungs to better absorb the toxins in the smoke. Even with vaping, it is recommended you take short, shallow puffs.
Until there is more comprehensive data available, it really boils down to preference. For some, it doesn’t feel like medicating unless the flower is crackling in a joint or bowl, while others won’t ever stray from vape life.
Diana-Ashley Krach is a freelance writer, journalist, and content creator whose work can be found on Everyday Feminism, Ravishly, and Playboy. She is the co-host and creator of Your Highness Podcast and founder of Good Vibes Marketing Agency. You can find her on Twitter or on her website.