Vaping continues to grow in popularity even as researchers worry about safety and long-term consequences. Critics of vaporizers say there’s more than safety to consider as well; they’re concerned the ease of using the devices leads to more widespread marijuana use. Plus, since inhaling the drug through a vaporizer makes is more potent, users run a greater risk of developing dependence.
Vaping vs. Smoking
One major way vaping is different from smoking marijuana are the compounds involved. People traditionally smoke the pot flower, the green bulb, but vaporizers heat marijuana oils or extracts to produce a vapor. The high from these extracts is more potent and researchers don’t have as much information about the long-term effects on the human body.
Vaporizer use also comes at a time when marijuana is in uncharted legal territory. Recreational use is legal in nine states and medicinal use is legal in some form in 28 states. Some researchers advocate vaporizer use over smoking pot, because it helps protect users from the toxic effects of marijuana smoke.
A University of California, San Francisco study found vaporizers protect users from inhaling the toxic products in smoke, which can cause cancer and other lung ailments. Vaporizers, however, still deliver the same amount of delta-9-tertrahydrocannibinol (THC), the active ingredient responsible for making users feel high. Some studies show THC alleviates chronic pain.
There are still plenty of unknowns about vaping. While vaporizers reduce the risk of cancer-agents in smoke, they still expose people to solvents and pesticides, which may harm health. Furthermore, if more people are willing to try vaping, due to a perception it is safer, more people may develop a marijuana addiction. Vaping delivers a more potent form of the drug in a more stylish way that doesn’t come with a strong smell.
In addition, today’s vaporizers are more discreet. Rather than big bulky vases that hum when in use and emit thick odorous veils of smoke, vaporizers look like large pens or small cellphones, make almost no noise, and let loose scented puffs of smoke that mask the skunky scent of marijuana.
Perceptions of Vaping
How do vaporizers change the perception of marijuana and marijuana users – especially among users diving into the new technology? Often, people who are “vaping” believe:
- Vaping is healthier than smoking marijuana. They say they “feel it” less when they try to exercise later and they don’t feel as fatigued as they do after smoking.
- Owning a vaporizer is legal – kind of. Pipes and bongs are considered drug paraphernalia and are illegal to possess by most state laws, but vaporizers may not fall in that category, avoiding advertising as marijuana-use devices. People who purchase them feel safe carrying them no matter where they live or the local laws on marijuana use and possession.
- Vaping is trendy. People who like to smoke but don’t feel comfortable shopping in head shops or carrying around a pipe or cigarette-looking smoke device feel more comfortable with vaping.
No matter the current perceptions about vaping, ever-changing marijuana laws and federal enforcement make using them risky.
Is Vaping Dangerous?
The jury is still out comparing the long-term effects of marijuana use with vaping versus smoking through a pipe or a bong. In fact, research has yet to start funneling in that takes a definitive look at the long-term effects of marijuana use in any form.
At the end of the day, safety relates to how an individual experiences a drug no matter the method of ingestion. Vaping may not hinder functionality in one person yet cause major problems for another in his ability to maintain work, home and personal life.
If marijuana abuse or addiction intrudes in your life, treatment can help. At Michael’s House, we personalize our treatment program to address any level of substance abuse or dependence. Call today for more information.
 Mulroney, Aengus. (2015). Vaping marijuana grows in popularity, but the effects on health are unclear. Ryersonian. Retrieved Apr. 3, 2017 from http://ryersonian.ca/vaping-marijuana-grows-in-popularity-but-the-effects-on-health-are-unclear/.
 Ghose, Tia. (2014). NY Legalizes Medical Marijuana: How Vaping Pot Is Different from Smoking. LiveScience. Retrieved Apr. 3, 2017 from http://www.livescience.com/46536-vaporizing-marijuana-benefits-risks.html.
 National Conference of State Legislatures. (2017). Deep Dive: Marijuana. Retrieved Apr. 3, 2017 from http://www.ncsl.org/bookstore/state-legislatures-magazine/marijuana-deep-dive.aspx.
 University of California – San Francisco. (2007). Marijuana Vaporizer Provides Same Level Of THC, Fewer Toxins, Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved Apr. 3, 2017 from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070515151145.htm
 Carlini B. (2016). Marijuana and Vaping. Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute, University of Washington. Retrieved Apr. 3, 2017 from http://learnaboutmarijuanawa.org/factsheets/vaping.htm.