I've often wondered whether you can vape cannabis, whether it's healthier if you do so and what the effects are.
Not having any experience in the area, I let this issue lie - until now! Janet Fox, who writes for the awesome Vaporizer Blog, kindly agreed to share her knowledge with us in this interview.
All opinions stated are Janet's - see disclaimer below!
Q: How and why did you start vaporizing cannabis?
I was introduced to vaporizing cannabis through a good friend of mine. Here in Amsterdam we have “coffeeshops” that have vaporizers that you can use freely. Normally when smoking cannabis with or without tobacco I always felt “stoned” for lack of better words. However, when you vaporize you get a totally different feeling. You feel more awake and more active and the effects of the cannabis are felt in a more positive way. I personally prefer this method now because of the huge difference it makes in how I feel during and after.
Q: Until recently, I had never heard of vaporizing cannabis. How does it work, and are there any similarities to how e-cigarettes work?
Vaporization with cannabis is a technology designed to deliver cannabinoids while at the same time avoiding the hazards of smoking by heating cannabis. You still produce therapeutically active cannabinoid, but below the point of combustion where noxious pyrolytic byproducts are formed. The similarity with e-cigarettes lies in the fact that there is no combustion.
Q: When did vaporizing cannabis start?
The modern era of herbal vaporizing owes its existence in large part to the efforts of one Frank William Wood – better known as Eagle Bill. Eagle Bill not only invented several forms of vaporizers (including the 10 gallon jar model he displayed at fairs, cups and shows for dramatic effect), he single-handedly put this “safe and effective alternative to smoking” on the map in the years before his death in 2005."
Q: How do you prepare cannabis for vaporizing?
Preparing cannabis for the use with a vaporizer is really easy. All you need is a good cannabis grinder. Any shop that sells vaporizers will also carry these grinders.
Q: Does vaporizing cannabis provide a different hit/effect from smoking it?
Definitely! The hit from a vape is much cleaner, clearer-headed. There's more energy and can-do feeling in vaping, as opposed to the more zonked-out stone of a joint. Plus my lungs feel clearer too.
Q: How have authorities reacted to vaping cannabis? I presume there is no problem in Holland, but what about other countries? Have any blogs based in other countries had problems?
As guessed correctly vaporizers are legal in Holland. Actually in most countries vaporizers are legal to possess. However, in the USA vaporizers are seen as drug paraphernalia and are therefore illegal. The advertising of vaporizers therefore mostly focuses on the aspect of vaporizing tobacco or aroma therapeutic herbs because of these legal issues in the USA.
Q: I am assuming that vaping cannabis is similar to vaping nicotine - much healthier because no combustion takes place. What do you see as the benefits (of vaping cannabis over smoking it), and are there any ill effects from vaping vapor containing THC?
Smoke is bad and causes deadly symptoms in the lungs and respiratory system. Burning cannabis (or anything for that matter) creates smoke, which contain toxic carcinogens harmful to the lungs. Vaporizers, in a nutshell, extract the moisture in the cannabinoids by heating them, thus creating a vapor that can be inhaled. The essential elements of the plant (THC) are consumed and nothing else. Vaporizing makes for more flavorful taste, and creates very little smell. No (second-hand) smoke is released into the atmosphere.
(See Vaporiser Blog's Health Articles for more information.)
Below: A medical marijuana user discusses why she use cannabis.
Are there any dangers and risks to vaping cannabis, and if so what are they?
The biggest dangers lie here with smoking/combustion of cannabis. I'd like to point you to research that can tell you exactly what you are asking, but I can't. It isn't coincidence that big Pharma is investing huge sums of money in the development of cannabis related medicine. So much so that they actually try to patent the plant itself trying to keep you and me from growing it ourselves. I don't have any research giving you an exact answer but this goes to show that there is a lot going on behind the scenes. Just make sure you don't overdo it if you are a recreational user. If you are using cannabis to run away from your problems then I'd say you are on the wrong path. All I can say is that if you use it for the wrong reasons you should be careful.
Q: Did you smoke before you started vaporizing cannabis, and if so have you noticed any difference in health?
I started out smoking tobacco and also smoking cannabis combined with tobacco, as this is quite the custom in the Netherlands where I live. The biggest benefit is obviously that I am not using tobacco anymore and my lungs are much happier because of this.
Q: Have there been any studies into the effects of vaporizing THC?
There has been research done into the effects of THC, both good and bad, which can be found with the help of Google Scholar. These studies seem to concentrate on the topic of cancer research. Though you’ll find that THC is not always the only substance which is useful.
There have been a few studies regarding the use of a vaporizer instead of combustion. The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and the University at Albany, State University of New York show vaporizing offers safe and effective delivery of cannabinoids. A study at the University at Albany involved an Internet survey of nearly 7,000 marijuana users. Participants were asked to identify their primary method of using marijuana (joints, pipe, vaporizer, eating, etc.) and were asked six questions about respiratory symptoms. After adjusting for variables such as age and cigarette use, vaporizer users were 60% less likely than smokers to report respiratory symptoms such as cough, chest tightness or phlegm.
Below: Bor talks about why he uses medical marijuana, and tries out vapourising!
Q: Do you use different temperatures and strains for different effects? How would this affect vaping for medical usage?
What you basically need is good clean, maybe organic cannabis. Growing your own would be the best as you control the quality. You really have to be mindful of the quality of the cannabis that you are using. The maximum temperature that we would recommend is 230 C/ 446 F. On this temperature the sedative effects are more prevalent, which is what a lot of medical users use medical cannabis for. But there is always personal preference and every vaporizer with the combination of temperature and cannabis used, wields different results. It is always recommended to experiment a bit and find the best possible combination that personally gives you the best results. This takes time and experience, but it is well worth it.Q: Assuming that vaping cannabis is healthier than smoking cannabis, do you think it is likely that this will lead to an increase in the use of cannabis for medicinal use? Pax Vaporizer by Ploom, which is a development in the right direction in terms of reliability and durability as well as portability. And if you are living in the US... Stealth :)
Q: Where is a good place for a cannabis user interested in a healthier form of usage to find out more about vaping cannabis?
I would have to say vaporizerblog.com!
Q: Is it possible to use e-cigarettes to vape cannabis?
No not with the standard e-cigarettes. But, there are several liquid vaporizers on the market. Some are good and some are really bad. We haven't looked into these yet as these are not very popular and are lacking quality. These are all portable vaporizers, but you need cannabis oil for this to work. Cannabis oil is less available and is a hassle to make. Cannabis oil can also be used orally or in foods as opposed to nicotine that you are using. So when you make cannabis oil it is a bit of a waste to vape it as you can do so much with it.
Many thanks to Janet Fox and The Vaporiser Blog for both the interview and for sharing the images and videos used in this post.
Disclaimer: We do not endorse the use of cannabis for use other than for medical reasons, or for use in countries where it is currently illegal. (The UK currently allows the of cannabis for medical reasons.) Opinions stated are those of Janet Fox , not of the Ashtray blog.