Inhalation Delivery Methods
Smoking or inhaling Cannabis remains the most common method of consumption and involves either dried herb (or flower) or concentrates. Read on to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of this specific method.
Cannabis can be inhaled by consuming it in a classic joint, a blunt or in a pipe or bong. It requires some dried herb or flower, which is ground up and rolled into a paper or added to a pipe or bong. The product is then burned and inhaled. One advantage to smoking Cannabis is that it provides immediate effects compared to other methods available. It is also very convenient and doesn’t require many tools compared to the other methods.
But is smoking Cannabis safe? The current scientific research shows that overall, the negative side effects of smoking Cannabis on lung health appear to be lower than for tobacco smoking. Cannabis smoke can potentially irritate the lungs and may cause more frequent lung illness or infections, such as bronchitis. However, there is no evidence smoking Cannabis contributes to lung cancer or emphysema and is NOT linked with tobacco-related cancers.
Burning any plant material results in exposure to volatile organic compounds and noxious gases for both the consumer and for those around them. However, a 2005 study shows that while Cannabis smoke does have some of the same carcinogens as tobacco smoke, it has a very different disease progression. The THC present in Cannabis smoke could provide a protective effect against pro-carcinogens. In contrast, nicotine has been found to potentially increase the carcinogenic effects of tobacco smoke.
Another method which is gaining popularity now is vaping, using either dried herb or concentrate products. This method requires a device, such as a vaporizer, which heats the product to a high enough temperature to activate the components but not hot enough to burn the plant material. This method is less irritating to the lungs and throat, it is less odorous and more discreet than smoking. Vaping also provides immediate effects and uses less materials, making it a cost-effective alternative.
Then there is dabbing using concentrates. Concentrates are processed Cannabis products made by separating trichomes and resin from the flowers and in the process, eliminating unnecessary plant material. These products include hashish or kief, bubble hash, wax or budder, terp sauce, live resin and rosin, shatter or taffy, distillate, honeycomb, distillate, isolate, jelly hash and Rick Simpson oil. These products require tools and equipment to consume, by using either a vape pen or a dab rig. The concentrates are then burned through a device and inhaled.
The advantages of this method are that consuming concentrates will provide immediate results and produces very little odour compared to burning a joint. However, new research suggests that vaping Cannabis can deliver a significantly stronger high than smoking, which is beneficial for medical users. Concentrates are potent and are the purest form of Cannabis and as the name suggests, these products can have as much as 80-90 percent THC.
A disadvantage to using this method is it may cause some minor irritation of the lungs and throat but can reduce the risk of lung damage compared to smoking dried herb. Another disadvantage is the cost, as these products are typically two to three times as much as dried herb per gram and require equipment and tools, which is also costly.
These consumptions methods have many different advantages and disadvantages and picking a method that is suitable for you can be determined by a few factors. Consider your personal preferences for convenience and discretion, what price point is comfortable and which health risks are acceptable for you. And no matter what always remember to start low and go slow, particularly if you are new to Cannabis.
Check back next month for information about the many oral delivery methods available!