Cannabis, also known as marijuana, or pot, has been long used by humans—likely since 500 BCE. The cannabis plant originated in Central Asia, where civilizations cultivated it as herbal medicine. Later, the plant was introduced to Africa, Europe, and America, where it was grown to make textiles, sails, rope, clothes, and seeds used as food.
Since the late 1800s, cannabis extracts have contained medicinal properties and pharmacies and doctors’ offices sold throughout Europe and the United States.
Vaping, on the other hand, is much more recent and is considered a safer alternative to smoking. However, some people still prefer smoking over vaping.
What Happens When You Smoke Marijuana
When smoked, the bloodstream absorbs the THC and other cannabinoids in marijuana rapidly through the lungs and distributes it to the rest of the body. Once these compounds reach their peak levels in your body, they attach to two types of receptors in your body—CB1 and CB2.
CB1 receptors are found primarily in your brain, particularly areas that control vomiting, body movement, and memory. This effect explains the reason why smoking marijuana affects balance and coordination, impairs short-term memory and learning, and why it can be beneficial in treating pain, nausea, and loss of appetite.
On the other hand, CB2 receptors are found in small numbers throughout your body, especially in the immune system’s tissues, spleen, and lymph nodes. Though these receptors’ functions are not well understood, it is thought to serve as brakes on the immune system function.
When you smoke marijuana, its effects begin immediately after the drug enters your brain and can last from one to three hours. After inhaling marijuana smoke, your heart starts beating more rapidly, the bronchial passage relaxes and becomes enlarged, and blood vessels in your eyes expand and appear red.
In the brain, THC acts in the reward system and stimulates the secretion of dopamine, which causes you to feel euphoric. The euphoria typically passes after a while and might make the user feel sleepy or depressed.
What Happens When You Vape Marijuana
Vaping marijuana involves inhaling heated oil through vaporizing devices like vape pens or using a vaporizer to produce liquid vapor from dried plant material like the flower. Vape pens are compact and resemble traditional pens, except they contain a lithium-ion battery and a cartridge. The cartridge containing marijuana oil or distillate is heated up using the battery.
Unlike smoking, vaping applies lower temperatures to melt the resin glands while preventing combustion. The liquid-vapor envelopes the lung tissues with potentially harmful chemicals and gets deep down into the lungs, where they are absorbed into the bloodstream.
The compounds in marijuana enter the brain from the bloodstream and bind to the receptors working much like when you smoke marijuana.
Which Way is Better?
Although smoking has been the traditional way of consuming marijuana, researches show that it is likely far from the cleanest choice.
Though vaping marijuana works much like smoking, vaping doesn’t involve high temperature and hence produces fewer hazardous by-products like tar, benzene, toluene, etc. It is also a convenient and discreet way to use weed and is more efficient as it preserves most THC.
However, vaporizers can sometimes be expensive for casual consumers. Additionally, preparing the marijuana, heating the vaporizer, and cleaning it after each use is a cumbersome process that will make you feel smoking joints are a better option.
As the long-term effects of vaping on lung tissues are not yet fully known, and the concern of vaping-related illnesses like EVALI growing, Health Canada strictly asks Canadians to use only regulated kush dispensaries for online shopping in CA.
Vaping and smoking marijuana share similar adverse effects on the body, such as lung damage and increased cancer risk. However, researchers are more precise about the long-term effects of smoking than vaping. Hence, choosing what’s best for you will depend on various factors ranging from cost to ease of use. Also, instead of using vaping as a means to quit smoking, consider using FDA-approved methods.