Smoking marijuana has been the go-to method for getting ‘high’ ever since the plant came to American shores. However, in recent years, vaporizers have threatened to take over the market. Those who champion ‘vaping’ say it is easier on the throat and lungs, and there is even a suggestion that vaporizers release fewer carcinogens than smoking.
Vaping is deemed by many to be an effective means of quitting smoking. It has also gained popularity in the marijuana world because it seemingly produces fewer carcinogens than smoking weed. Cannabis companies have responded to the growing demand by developing ultra-potent concentrates that can have a THC content of up to 90%!
With this in mind, you may believe that vaping is likely to get you significantly higher than smoking; but let’s see if this is the case in practice. We also provide information on different vaporizer types and provide reasons why vaping is generally better than smoking. First, however, let’s check out the health profile of both consumption methods.
Vaping vs. Smoking Weed: Which Is Best?
Vaping marijuana works in much the same way as smoking. Cannabis is heated to a particular temperature, and the decarboxylated chemical compounds (THC, CBD, etc.) are inhaled into the lungs.
However, vaping applies heat at much lower temperatures than smoking via a joint or bowl. Some vaporizers apply just enough heat (roughly 220 degrees Fahrenheit) for the resin glands to “melt” and transform into steam.
The lower temperatures at which the vapor is produced lead to far fewer negative effects on the body. This includes a reduced production of tar, as well as fewer hazardous byproducts that are typical of smoking (combustion).
Vaping uses lower temperatures than smoking, which means that it produces less tar and carcinogens. Therefore, it is less harmful for the body.
Consuming dried cannabis buds by grinding them up and rolling them into a joint has been a tradition for centuries. Although this method is a classic way to enjoy marijuana, research shows it may not be the best option for your health.
A review published in 2013 by the Annals of the American Thoracic Society determined that “regular smoking of marijuana [causes] visible and microscopic injury to the [respiratory system] … and is associated with an increased likelihood of chronic bronchitis.”
However, what about vaping? In terms of the general health and safety of vaping marijuana, is there any real benefit to vaping over smoking? Most health professionals would say yes. Yet, we still need to learn much more about the long-term effects of vaping. Now, let’s see how vaping cannabis compares to smoking it.
Vaping Versus Smoking Weed – Which Is Healthier?
Overall, it seems conclusive that vaping marijuana is safer than smoking it; but it has little to do with the substance. The ‘dangers’ of smoking cannabis are primarily based on the process of combustion, which occurs when you light a joint, blunt, or bowl.
The best-known carcinogens produced by smoked marijuana are:
- Naphthalene: High concentrations of this chemical destroy red blood cells, which are crucial for carrying oxygen. Excess exposure could result in organ damage.
- Benzene: This well-known carcinogen is formed during combustion. Your reproductive system is badly damaged when you are exposed to high concentrations.
- Toluene: This benzene derivative is less toxic but is believed to affect the central nervous system negatively.
A study by Hashibe et al., published in the journal Alcohol in April 2005, found that marijuana smoke contains similar carcinogens as cigarette smoke.
On the plus side, there isn’t a link between marijuana smoking and increased cancer risk. That’s according to a January 2017 report released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report looked at almost 11,000 marijuana studies and said: “the committee found evidence that suggests smoking cannabis does not increase the risk for cancers often associated with tobacco use.
As the biggest risk of carcinogens comes from combustion itself, vaporizing marijuana or using concentrates could reduce the risk of developing a harmful lung condition.
Researchers have found that those who vaporize cannabis report decreased respiratory symptoms than those who smoke the substance.
Cannabis Flower or Oil?
What’s interesting is that vaping marijuana flower appears to be safer than vaping hash oil. This is primarily due to the low quality of some hash oils on the market, containing pesticides, lighter fluid, and other dangerous items.
A study by Shabab et al. published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in March 2017 analyzed five groups:
- Tobacco cigarette users only
- Former tobacco cigarette smokers who had been using e-cigarettes for at least six months
- Former tobacco cigarette smokers using Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) only
- Long-term users of e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes
- Long-term users of tobacco cigarettes and NRT
The University College of London (UCL) scientists discovered something interesting. Those who swapped tobacco cigarettes for e-cigarettes or NCT for a minimum of six months had far lower levels of toxic and carcinogenic substances in their bodies than those who continued to use tobacco cigarettes.
The Vaping Epidemic
It isn’t all good news for the vaping industry. It is seen as a ‘cool’ method of marijuana consumption by teenagers, who inevitably overdo it and get in trouble. According to CNN, 14 teenagers in the United States were hospitalized due to breathing problems after vaping in July and early August 2019 alone. Eleven of the cases occurred in Wisconsin, and the other three happened in Illinois.
In August 2019, tragedy struck in Illinois when an adult patient died from a serious lung disease after vaping. It is believed to be the first-ever death in America linked to e-cigarettes. Within months, 60 people had died from vaping-related illnesses, with more than 2,000 others hospitalized.
The American Vaping Association defended the industry by claiming the illnesses attributed to marijuana vaporization were due to tainted black-market THC products. Remember, these illicit products could contain all manner of harmful ingredients.
I’m Okay with the Health Risks – I Want to Know Which One Gets Me Higher!
Until recently, it wasn’t easy to provide a definitive answer to this question. Certainly, you receive a ‘different’ high from each product, which doesn’t necessarily mean a ‘better’ high.
Those who have tried both will tell you that vaping offers a “cleaner” high, which provides you with a greater degree of energy. The lack of smoke means you are less likely to suffer from a dry mouth, and there is less of a pungent odor.
Does Vaping Get You High?
According to research, the answer is ‘yes,’ and in fact, vaping cannabis seems to provide a greater level of intoxication than smoking it.
A study by Johns Hopkins Medicine, published in JAMA Network Open in November 2018, said that vaping marijuana produces stronger effects than smoking it if you are an infrequent user. The study involved a cross-trial of 17 healthy adults who smoked and vaporized cannabis in doses of 10mg and 25mg of THC.
Inhalation of 10mg of THC resulted in “modest impairment of cognitive functioning.” Meanwhile, the 25mg doses were “associated with pronounced drug effects, increased incidence of adverse effects, and significant impairment of cognitive and psychomotor ability.”
Most importantly, vaped THC “produced greater pharmacodynamic effects and higher concentrations of THC in blood compared with equal doses of smoked cannabis.”
None of the volunteers had smoked marijuana in the previous 30 days. Incidentally, one of them experienced hallucinations after using the 25mg dose. Overall, regardless of the amount of THC consumed, those who vaped cannabis reported more potent effects. These included a significant impairment in their overall cognitive abilities and reaction time. In other words, vaping gets you FAR more stoned than smoking!
Smoking Cannabis Offers a Faster High That Lasts Longer
When you smoke marijuana, the ensuing rush is intense, especially if you use a bong, but you’re more likely to feel lazy than if you vape. While the duration of the high is greater, your peak high is less intense than when you use a vaporizer. On the plus side, you get there quicker and feel stoned for a bit longer.
Smoking gets the user higher and provides effects that last longer. However, vaping is safer and more cost-effective.
For those in the know, the result of the Johns Hopkins study came as no surprise. After all, the bioavailability of marijuana increases when it is vaporized as opposed to when it is smoked. When you smoke a joint, you lose half the cannabinoids almost immediately, and smoke burnoff subtracts another 20%.
As for vaporization, up to 95% of the weed’s cannabinoids make it past the first hurdle. Overall, vaping cannabis equates to a bioavailability rate of up to 56%, according to some estimates. As a higher percentage of THC makes it to the bloodstream when vaping, you are bound to get ‘higher’ from vaporization than you would from smoking the same amount of marijuana.
Furthermore, vaping consumes less dry herb than smoking, so it is arguably more cost-effective. If you’re keen for an ‘out of body experience’ type high, invest in concentrates. However, be careful – some forms of shatter and wax contain up to 90% THC!
When you break things down even further, it becomes clear that vaporizing cannabis has an array of advantages, aside from the obvious health benefits. When you smoke marijuana, the dry plant material combusts as the temperature reaches incredible levels. You are unable to control or gauge the temperature. All you know is that smoking marijuana destroys practically all of its terpenes.
Terpenes are the molecules responsible for the unique taste and scent of cannabis. They are found in plant resins, and there are dozens, if not hundreds, of them in marijuana strains. They also have varied boiling points which provide vaping with a distinct advantage.
For instance, beta-caryophyllene has a boiling point of 246 degrees; it is 312.8 degrees for pinene. Meanwhile, quercetin is one of the most durable, with a BP of 482 degrees.
Controlling the Range
As fun as it is to smoke, you have no control over the temperature your cannabis is exposed to. In contrast, advanced vaporizers enable you to determine the temperature of their heating chambers to a single degree. Even older models offer several temperature ranges. As a result, you can use your vaporizer to heat your marijuana or concentrate for a customizable experience. Here are the three basic temperature ranges to consider:
- Low Temperature (290 – 330 Degrees): This is the best range if you’re after a relaxing high. You will taste most of the terpenes, and while the ‘high’ won’t be exhilarating, the flavor will be sensational.
- Medium Temperature (331 – 370 Degrees): This is the ‘sweet spot’ when chasing a high for most users. You still benefit from a reasonable number of terpenes and cannabinoids, but the enjoyment of the high is probably at its zenith.
- High Temperature (371 –445 Degrees): This is the range for users looking to get completely stoned. You will experience the most intense high, which should also last longer.
Once you heat your plant material above 445 degrees, you enter combustion territory, providing an intense, albeit rough, experience. If this is what you’re after, it is best to rid yourself of the vaporizer and start smoking joints.
What Are the Various Types of Vaporizers?
Joints and bowls are pretty universal in terms of their form and function. In contrast, cannabis vaping devices come in a massive range of styles, sizes, and prices. There are even ‘smart vapes’ that can be controlled through an app and adjustable temperature devices that allow users to fully customize their high.
Here is a brief look at the most common types of vapes currently on the market:
Disposable Vape Pens
These are the smallest and most inexpensive ($20 or less) type of vaporizer. They are highly portable, discreet, and simple to use. Most use basic conduction heating methods. Disposable vape pens are a good choice for people new to vaping but are typically only compatible with wax concentrates.
In conduction vapes, the cannabis comes into physical contact with a heated surface (typically an e-coil) to produce vapor. This method is quick, but it can sometimes heat the marijuana unevenly, leading to harsh hits and wasted material.
Convection vaporizers pass heated air over the plant material without it coming into contact with any heated surface. This method is more efficient because it heats the marijuana more evenly – resulting in a better and stronger vape cloud. This is the preferred method for experienced vapers.
Which Vape Gets You the Highest?
Feel free to visit the WayofLeaf vapes section to learn more about vaping. We also have dozens of reviews of the top brands in the industry.
As for which vape device gets you the highest, you’ll need to invest in a slightly more expensive product. We feel that the following are among the best vaporizers on the market:
- DaVinci IQ
- Pax 3
- Storz & Bickel Mighty
- Arizer Solo II
- GPen Roam
As for which one gets you the highest, it’s impossible to say! What you want in this instance is a device with a powerful battery capable of holding a lot of product. If you can find a vaporizer that offers temperature control, all the better! Next, let’s discover the reasons why it is worth choosing to vape over smoking.
5 Reasons Why Vaping Is Better Than Smoking
1 – Vaping Is discreet
Both dry herb vaporizers and cartridge vapes reduce the smell coming off the product during consumption. That said, the scent from dry herb vaporizers is still present – no matter what people might tell you. The scent is certainly muted and doesn’t linger as combusted weed does, but there is a smell nonetheless.
Vape oil cartridges, on the other hand – i.e., devices that are used with waxes, concentrates, or extracts – produce very little smell. This increased discretion means you can openly consume your marijuana without having to worry about a pungent aroma coming off. Then again, please note that using cannabis in public is illegal, even in recreational states.
2 – Vaping Is Better for Lung Health
Choosing to vape your weed at low-temperatures is almost certainly healthier for your lungs than smoking. In fact, according to former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, it most certainly is.
“I think vaping is a less harmful alternative to smoking,” Dr. Gottlieb said in an interview with CNBC. “There’s no question if a currently addicted adult smoker migrates to a vaping product, they’re gonna improve their health. There’s no question about that.”
However, experts are waiting on long-term data to know just how much healthier vaping is on lung tissue than smoking. While Dr. Gottlieb suggests that vaping is certainly a healthier alternative to smoking, he also warns that it should not be considered a “safe” practice. This is especially true when considering the wide variation that exists in terms of vape oil ingredients.
The only 100% certain way to reverse lung damage caused by smoking is to stop smoking altogether. If you can’t stop smoking, switching to a quality vape option is your next best bet.
3 – Vaping Is Less Wasteful
Combusting cannabis burns off a portion of the usable cannabinoids. It’s been estimated that only about 10% of the cannabinoids are left when a marijuana cigarette is ignited. In other words, smoking is an inherently inefficient way to consume cannabis.
In contrast, vaping preserves significantly more cannabinoids. Over the long-term, this can result in less product used and more money saved.
4 – Benefits in the Home
As you can technically only legally consume cannabis in a private residence, it is common to smoke it indoors. However, your curtains, furniture, and fabrics all absorb the toxins from a marijuana cigarette.
These lingering toxins emit a strong, stale odor that can be very difficult to get rid of. On the other hand, vaporizing does not typically linger on fabrics, linen, or any other sort of material. This is generally the case if the vape device is used at a low enough temperature.
5 – Vaping Protects Your Skin
Even when a high-quality filter is used, the combustion of cannabis produces sticky tar that wreaks havoc on the body’s respiratory system. But did you know that exposure to these same by-products also damages skin cells and promotes the aging process?
Tar from combustion is loaded with free radicals, which negatively impact the skin and increase visible wrinkles, marks, and other lines. Since vaping does not produce smoke, your skin (both externally and in the inner mucosal linings of the respiratory system) is exposed to fewer damaging effects.
Does Vaping Get You Higher Than Smoking? Final Thoughts
Smoking cannabis provides you with a longer-lasting high. However, vaporization offers a greater degree of potency, which ultimately ensures you get wiped out if you use too much! As a higher percentage of vaporized marijuana hits the target, a quarter of an ounce will last you a lot longer. If you are a regular user, it is worth investing $100+ for a decent-quality vaporizer.
The fact is, vaporization is likely to become the marijuana consumption method of choice in the very near future if it hasn’t already taken over.
In California, for example, cannabis concentrates outsold flower several years ago. Aside from delivering stronger effects, vaporizing marijuana has additional benefits, such as better portability.
Also, vape pens enable you to enjoy cannabis clandestinely. Not only can you easily conceal such a device, but there isn’t the same telltale smell as when you smoke a joint. Smoking marijuana in the traditional way will probably never go out of style.
Nonetheless, vaporization gets you higher and exposes you to fewer risks such as carcinogens. While vaping is not completely safe either, the available information gives it a strong lead over smoking.