When it comes to cannabis, enthusiasts have more ways to enjoy it than ever before! But with all those options can come choice paralysis! Which is better? What has more flavor? Is there a more potent option? Relax! This time on the HED Carts blog we’re looking at vaping vs smoking flower, laying out the pros and cons and helping you make the right choice for you.
Vaping Vs Smoking – Potency
Let’s lay it out right at the top. For infrequent users, vaping cannabis hits harder than smoking. A recent study from John Hopkins lays it all out. With that potency also comes an increased risk of the less favorable side effects such as anxiety and paranoia.
The study brought 17 participants who were infrequent users, none had smoked or vaped in the past 30 days and most on average hadn’t the previous year.
In a controlled setting at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center’s behavioral pharmacology research unit, each participant either smoked or vaped cannabis containing 0, 10 or 25 milligrams of THC in individual visits over the six week experiment.
The researchers said that 25mg of THC is a lower does, less than you’d find in a standard joint, and the folks at Leafly can back up this claim – of course most folks don’t smoke a whole joint themselves in one go (though no shame to our more tolerant friends out there!)
In their research following the dose the participants then had their heart rates monitored, blood drawn, and blood pressure checked throughout the session. Then they performed cognitive tests and interviewed to measure ‘highness.’ Everyone experienced the usual tell tale signs of highness, the bloodshot dry eyes, pounding heart rate, paranoia, and increased appetite.
What did the results reveal? For one, that no matter how it is done, a 25mg dose of THC will get you high. In the cognitive tests, the participants who vaped made twice the number of mistakes on the cognitive tests and all reported feeling significantly higher, as well as the negative effects of being too high than those who smoked an equal amount of flower.
The other results they listed were: “vaporized cannabis produced significantly greater subjective drug effects, cognitive, psychomotor impairment, and higher blood THC concentrations than the same doses of smoked cannabis”.
The winner: Vaping (depending on what you’re looking for)
Smoking vs Vaping – Harshness
Alright so we’ve looked at the potency balance, what about the harshness or effects on the lungs? We all know that familiar cough when you light up a fresh bowl - is that all the proof you need for it to be worse than vaping? Well it depends!
No matter what, smoking is going to be harsher on the lungs than vaping. Smoke is harsher than vapor. Smoking is combusting the herb and then inhaling the smoke, while vaping is inhaling the vapor after vaporizing concentrate. Plenty of people inhale vapor when they use their asthma inhalers! Of course, you want to make sure you’re using premium cartridges and vaping oils that you can trust, because inhaling anything with a bunch of questionable chemicals, vaping or smoking, is no bueno.
You may still cough after a particularly intense hit off a vape, but the actual biology of inhaling smoke as opposed to inhaling vapor is quite different.
The winner here is: Vaping.
Vaping vs Smoking Cost
This is what you’re wondering if you’re more curious about the economics of the choice. Speaking generally, flower might be cheaper than a vape cartridge, but there are a lot of individual variables to take into consideration for your calculus.
Let’s say you’re buying flower (sometimes measured in ounces instead of grams). You might be looking at let’s say $60 for a 1/2 oz (equivalent to about 14 grams). Meanwhile a 1g vape cartridge may be in the ~$50s. If you look at the cost per gram you’d get an answer but it wouldn't be a clear or correct one. Because vape cartridges are concentrate you’re getting exactly the dosage you’re looking for when you vape, controlling the hits much more easily than controlling a flame and the burning flower.
So consider this, the control you have (or lose) with vaping or smoking, and how often you do smoke. If you smoke only on occasion, you might find that you buy flower for cheap but when you go to light up another bowl it’s gone stale and dry, losing potency or worse getting moldy. That’s not the experience you’re looking for either!
Vape meanwhile is sealed in, always available and provides the same hit whether it’s Day 1 or Day 100.
With these three factors figured out the clear winner is vaping! But that’s only if these are the same three considerations you have too! And remember the question of potency is 100% a subjective, opinion-based, one. What some people are after others aren’t.
Luckily we live in an ever freer world and we have so many options available to us!