Attitudes towards cannabis have changed a lot in recent years. In the past, this plant was mostly known by the general public as a recreational drug, and few people would have said that marijuana strains had any possibility for health or wellness benefits.
However, recent years of scientific research have completely changed the public’s perceptions of marijuana. We now know that it can offer a lot of different health and wellness advantages to the average person and is being prescribed by leading medical professionals too.
Studies have shown that medical marijuana strains can help with a huge range of conditions, from aiding cancer patients with their nausea to helping chronic pain patients live more comfortably and easing the suffering of those with mental health disorders too.
However, many people still find themselves wondering about the best method of using medical marijuana. Vaping and smoking are two possible options you have, and science suggests that vaping weed may actually be the safer and healthier choice of the two.
Firstly, it’s important to understand the key differences between smoking and vaping and know how each method works before we actually look at the ways in which vaping may be considered to be a healthier method.
Smoking weed typically involves rolling the weed in paper, lighting one end with a lighter or match, and then essentially burning through the paper and the cannabis in order to allow the user to inhale the fumes and smoke that are produced.
Vaping also involves heating up the cannabis, but it does this without any burning required. It heats the plant into a vapour or mist which can then be inhaled into the user’s lungs with the aid of a vaporizer device like an e-cigarette or vape pen. Since there isn’t any burning or combustion, there isn’t any smoke when you vape, and this is how the benefits arise.
As explained above, the main benefit of vaping over smoking is the fact that vaping doesn’t produce any smoke, and it’s actually smoke, not the cannabis itself, that can pose a risk to a user’s health. The smoke produced when a person smokes weed may contain certain chemicals and toxins which can be inhaled both by the user themselves and the people around them. Studies show that smoking weed doesn’t pose anywhere near the same risks as smoking cigarettes, but the smoke can still potentially be unsafe or damaging to a person’s lungs and respiratory system.
In contrast to joints, bongs, and pipes, vape devices have that all-important ability to heat up weed in order to release the cannabinoids that help to produce its beneficial effects, without any of the toxins or chemicals associated with the combustion process.
This basically means that when a person is making use of a vaporizer device, they’re able to inhale the cannabinoids, like CBD and THC, and get the positive effects of weed without inhaling any harmful ingredients at the same time, thereby reducing the long-term possible risks to their respiratory health.
Studies back up these claims, with leading organisations like Johns Hopkins Medicine and the American Heart Association carrying out studies and reporting that vaping may be considered to be safer than smoking due to the fact that vaping liquids and mists contain fewer contaminants and potentially harmful chemicals. Other advantages of vaping over smoking include the fact that it gives you more control over your weed experiences. This is because the best vaporizer devices are very carefully designed to offer control.
With a good quality vape pen or vaporizer, you’re able to influence the exact temperature of your device and alter it as you desire. This allows you to play around with different settings and controls in order to get different highs and experiences.
When you’re smoking, on the other hand, you don’t really have any control over the heat or duration of the process, as the flame simply burns away at the joint or plant material and the user has no influence over temperatures or things like that.
As well as potentially being a healthier way to consume weed than smoking, some studies and research papers suggest that vaping weed may also be a more enjoyable method too, with better effects and more pleasing experiences afforded to vaping enthusiasts.
Results from the Global Drug Survey 2014 help to reinforce this notion, as a majority of the 38,000 cannabis users questioned in the survey stated that using a vaporizer helped to improve their “cannabis pleasure.” The Highway Code, a guide for safer drug use, concluded from these findings that vaping cannabis is the safer method in terms of reducing risk and protecting a person’s health.
Another 2016 study looked at cannabis user attitudes and opinions on vaping, finding that many people who vaped regularly felt that it was healthier, better-tasting, more effective, and more pleasant overall than smoking too.
Overall, there seems to be plenty of evidence to suggest that vaping is the healthier of the two main methods to consume cannabis. There are other options out there too, including edibles and topical products, and we can expect to see additional studies and research in the years to come regarding the best ways to make use of weed.
Tomorrow is not just any other Monday, it’s Monday 20 April. Whether you are a marijuana user or not, there are strong chances that you know what 4/20, also spelled 420 or 4 20, means: it’s the unofficial holiday celebrated by potheads who come together to, well, smoke pot. But even weed enthusiasts out there are not all aware of why they wait for 4:20 to light a blunt in the afternoon (or in the morning, I’m not judging). Why was this particular number chosen? Where did 420 come from and what does it stand for?
There are different theories about the origin of 420 but no one seems to be entirely sure of which one is true. Ever heard that 420 is police code for possession? Or maybe that it is the penal code for marijuana use? Well, both of these are false. The California Senate Bill 420 that refers to the use of medical marijuana was actually named specifically for the code, not the other way around, which means that even our governments are linking the number 420 to marijuana use.
Another theory states that there are 420 active chemicals in marijuana, hence the connection between the drug and the number. But according to the Dutch Association for Legal Cannabis and Its Constituents as Medicine (NCSM), there are more than 500 active ingredients in marijuana, and only about 70 or so are cannabinoids unique to the plant. This rules this one out as well.
A subreddit on ‘trees’ speculates that the earliest written link between marijuana and 420 comes from H.P. Lovecraft and Kenneth Sterling’s short story In the Walls of Eryx published in 1939: “Although everything was spinning perilously, I tried to start in the right direction and hack my way ahead. My route must have been far from straight, for it seemed hours before I was free of the mirage-plant’s pervasive influence. Gradually the dancing lights began to disappear, and the shimmering spectral scenery began to assume the aspect of solidity. When I did get wholly clear I looked at my watch and was astonished to find the time was only 4:20. Though eternities had seemed to pass, the whole experience could have consumed little more than a half-hour.”
Many believe that the holiday came out of a ritual started by a group of high school students in California during the 1970s. According to Steven Hager, a former editor of the marijuana-focused news outlet High Times, a group of kids at San Rafael High School in San Rafael used to meet daily at 4:20 to smoke weed after school. When they’d see each other in the hallways during the day, they used to tell each other ‘420 Louie’, meaning, ‘Let’s meet at the Louis Pasteur statue at 4:20 to smoke’.
As many still stipulated on whether this story was true or not, the group of Californians mentioned before who call themselves the Waldos published documents in order to give this theory some legitimacy. Screen Shot spoke to one of the Waldos, Steve Capper, about why people seem to still doubt the origin of the term: “Many people have their own ideas and fantasies about friends and relatives who supposedly started ‘420’. The Waldos have created a whole culture of fake 420 claimers. The one thing that all these doubters have in common is not one shred of proof to their claims which might create doubt on their side.”
Capper certified that the Waldos are the only group of people with documented proof of their claims, which has been looked at by experts and international media and kept “in a vault in San Francisco at 420 Montgomery Street.”
Whatever its origins, 4/20 has become a very important holiday for weed smokers. As soon as the saying caught on and the Grateful Dead eventually picked it up, what was a simple code shared between a few stoners became the worldwide event for smokers that it is today. Originally a counterculture holiday to protest the social and legal stigmas against marijuana, 420 has also become the perfect opportunity for businesses and corporations to cash in on marijuana culture.
This year, those of you who looked forward to celebrating 420 with other marijuana enthusiasts will have to settle for a solo sesh at home. So get your laptop out, log in on your Zoom account, close your door and get ready to smoke it up, self-isolation style.