Some of you may remember in my previous blog I ended with a tongue-in-cheek saying: “Eat, drink, vape, and be merry.” I had at first written: “Eat, drink, smoke, and be merry,” but quickly realized I should be consistent in my recommendations since I believe vaporizing cannabis is better than smoking cannabis.

We know inhalation (smoking or vaporizing) allows us to dose the cannabis much more quickly and precisely than with other routes of administration. This so-called ability to “self-titrate” quickly and precisely is an important advantage when working with THC and its psychoactive effects.
When we compare vaporization to smoking, scientific research has revealed vaporization of cannabis flowers delivers far less carcinogenic substances to the lungs than combustion (smoking) of cannabis. Although, as I mentioned in Blog 15, there is no association between cannabis smoke and lung cancer, why push your luck?
Another plus for vaporization is it is less irritating to the throat and lungs than smoking. Some may find the less visible vapors can be an advantage too if you are out and about.
Now a small study reveals an additional perk to vaporizing your bud: it is more efficient than smoking, i.e., it gives you more bang for your buck. Tory Spindle, et al., just had an article published in the Journal of Analytical Pharmacology, “Acute Pharmacokinetic Profile of Smoked and Vaporized Cannabis in Human Blood and Oral Fluid.” This study compared the concentrations of cannabinoids in whole blood and oral fluid after administration of smoked and vaporized cannabis in 17 healthy adults who were infrequent users of cannabis (no cannabis use in the last 30 days). For you nerds out there: cannabinoid concentrations were assessed with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS-MS). In blood, the cannabinoid concentrations were dose-dependent for both methods of administration, but higher following vaporization compared with smoking. In other words, with the same dose of cannabis, blood concentration is higher with vaporizing than with smoking. So for those of you watching your pocketbook, vaporizing your bud is more cost effective than smoking it.
As an interesting aside, these same researchers from Johns Hopkins also published an earlier article in the JAMA Network Open, titled “Acute Effects of Smoked and Vaporized Cannabis in Healthy Adults Who Infrequently Use Cannabis.” Here the authors, using the same research, discuss the increased possible negative effects (short-term anxiety, paranoia, memory loss, and distraction) from vaporizing versus smoking, i.e., too much THC too fast for inexperienced users when vaporizing compared to smoking.
I wonder if this earlier article and its warning approach to cannabis use was motivated by the fact that the study was funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. As we know, any federal government funding of cannabis research must be based on looking for negative effects, not positive ones. Interesting how the source of money can drive research in one direction or another. Luckily the authors in their most recent publication seem to let go of this bias.
Dr. B.