Vaping vs. Smoking Marijuana: Which is the Healthier Alternative?

Vaping has become more popular over the last few years, but many people are still confused about what vaping actually is.

What is Vaping Marijuana?

In simple terms, a weed vaporizer is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, produced by an e-cigarette or similar device. It involves heating a liquid to generate an aerosol, which the user then inhales.

The main ingredients in e-liquid – propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin – are safe for consumption and widely used in food preparation. In addition, all products used in the e-liquid are completely legal throughout Australia and most parts of Europe. In some countries, such as Canada and New Zealand, additional regulations have been placed on some of these ingredients that have been proven safe for food preparation but had not been thoroughly tested for inhalation lungs through vaping at high temperatures.

What is smoking Marijuana?

Smoking marijuana involves heating the flower, oil, or wax of the cannabis plant to a high enough temperature that the chemicals contained in it are vaporized and then inhaling that vapor into your lungs.

Harmful Effects of Smoking Marijuana

The main concern about smoking marijuana is its negative effects on your lungs. These effects include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, increased phlegm production, chest pain and acute lung injury. It can also cause long-term respiratory problems such as daily cough and sputum production, more frequent acute lung illness episodes, increased risk of chest infections and lower quality of life compared with non-smokers . Furthermore , smoking cannabis causes changes in your blood that can increase your risk of having a heart attack.

The harmful effects of smoking marijuana are well-documented. It can interfere with your ability to learn, concentrate and make decisions by impairing the function of the hippocampus (the area of your brain responsible for memory formation), which could result in long-term problems for your performance at school or work. Smoking cannabis also increases risk of stroke, schizophrenia, depression and anxiety disorder, cognitive impairment in older adults, respiratory illness and cancer. It also has negative social consequences such as increased unemployment rates, relationship problems and an increased risk of initiating hard drugs like cocaine among heavy users.

Vaping Marijuana vs. Smoking Marijuana: Which is Healthier?

As vaping becomes more popular, many are swapping their cigarettes for e-cigarettes with many claiming it is a far healthier alternative compared to smoking cigarettes. However, when it comes to vaping marijuana vs. smoking marijuana, which one is better for your health?

Vaping Marijuana

It might sound counterintuitive to inhale something that you would usually exhale but, according to Dr. Michael Siegel, professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health, “when you exhale these things [toxins], they are at much lower levels than when you actually smoke them.”  He goes on further to say that “you are getting rid of most of the toxins by just breathing it out.”

The dirty little secret about cannabis is that there are no filters on joints so when you inhale, you are also inhaling the other ingredients present in the smoke.

Dr. Donald Tashkin, a pulmonologist who has studied smoking marijuana for 30 years at U.C.L.A explains that “people have assumed that it [smoking marijuana] was really unsafe. It turns out that it’s just about as safe as breathing hot air.”  Similar to filtered cigarettes, e-cigarettes heat up liquid nicotine to create an inhalable vapor without any of the harmful chemicals typically found in secondhand smoke or traditional cannabis smoke. Vaporizers are mainly made up of three parts: the tank, atomizer, and battery which contain none of the harmful substances associated with smoking analog cigarettes such as carbon monoxide, tar, or ash.

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Effect on Lung Health

There have been numerous studies done in the last ten years to determine whether vaping marijuana is less harmful compared to smoking cannabis, but not all of them reached the same conclusion. One study carried out by researchers at the University of California found that vaping can expose users to 1/3 lower levels of toxins than smoking it. However, other reports showed that one session of smoking marijuana through a water pipe can deliver 6 times more tar into your body than vaping two cartridges back-to-back could. It can also deliver up to double the amount of carbon monoxide which could make you feel lightheaded and cause respiratory problems like emphysema. So while there are fewer carcinogenic substances found in e-cigarettes than in traditional cigarettes, there is no guarantee that vaping marijuana is completely safe either.

While long-term studies are still needed to determine whether vaping cannabis could cause potential damage to your respiratory system over time, one thing we do know for certain is that smoking marijuana causes bronchitis and other changes in the lungs that can lead to infections.

Smoking vs Vaping: Which is Safer?

As mentioned earlier, while smoking cannabis exposes you to high levels of harmful chemicals including carbon monoxide which increases the risk of heart attack by 4 times compared with non-smokers, vaping does not produce smoke so it drastically reduces users’ exposure to toxins found in weed smoke. However, many tend to worry about the fact that vaping devices like e-cigarettes could potentially explode like other electronic gadgets. The truth is, it is very unlikely for your e-cigarette to explode since the majority of reported cases are attributed to battery issues or substandard chargers.