Vaporizing is the wave of the future. But smoking is doubtlessly more popular today. The modern prevalence of smoking cannabis, as opposed to vaporizing, boils down to three factors:
The technologies used to smoke herb are simpler: Rolling papers or a glass pipe and a lighter are easy to use. They can be found at any head shop or dispensary, and some convenience stores.
Smoking is less of an investment: The absolute minimum cost for a disposable oil vaporizer is around $50, with high-end personal herb vaporizers going into the $200 range, reaching as high as $450.
Our parents’ generation smoked tobacco cigarettes and never really got over it: Smoking is normal. Although cannabis smoke is much healthier than tobacco smoke, we still tend to disregard its negative consequences because the act of smoking is culturally ubiquitous.
While smoking is inferior for the cannabis connoisseur, it is nevertheless an excellent, low-investment method for a newbie wanting to try out cannabis. But once you decide you like the effects THC and want to implement it into your lifestyle, there is really no other method as efficient and healthy as vaping.
How THC Works
THC binds to CB1 receptors in the brain. These receptors are activated endogenously by anandamide molecules which are released when we do high-endurance runs. A THC molecule is the same shape as an anandamide molecule, so it fits into CB1 receptors and activates them. The trouble is, there is no active THC in a cannabis plant (unless it has been baking in the sun)–only THC-A. In order to turn THC-A into THC, the cannabis must be heated up so that one carboxyl group leaves the molecule, rendering the molecule the same shape as anandamide.
This is why we smoke and cook with cannabis. The only way to create THC out of THC-A is to expose it to high temperature: specifically 157 degrees celcius (for instant decarboxylation). Now, while literally lighting something on fire to make it hot may be practical or easy or simple, it is by no means the most optimal or careful method. The hottest point of a standard Bic lighter flame can reach 1900 degrees Celcius. This is so hot that it turns cannabis to ash. While the THC molecule remains stable, all of the other plant matter, which accounts for about 80% of the weight of dried cannabis, is combusted. If you breathe this in, you’re going to have a less-than-ideal time.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that nobody should ever smoke cannabis. Even smoked, I think that the benefits outweigh the harms. But vaping is vastly superior. Here are the reasons why vaping is superior to smoking.
Harms of Smoking
Burning any plant matter releases harmful chemicals and destroys most beneficial ones. This is why we don’t enjoy eating burnt food. Cannabis, when burnt, releases tar, ammonia, carcinogens, and over 100 toxins.
Burning cannabis destroys terpenes. Terpenes have a host of medical benefits, and are responsible for making cannabis taste good.
The smell from cannabis smoke can noticably linger for up to 180 minutes on your breath and clothing.
Heat and smoke cause your larynx to contract and your nose to release mucous, making it more difficult to breathe, thus reducing blood flow to the brain and giving you brain fog. The smoke can also make you cough, which damages your throat and lungs.
Benefits of Vaping
Vaping at a low temperature of 160-180 Celcius does not cause the release of harmful toxins.
Vaping releases terpenes, fully intact, along with the THC, contributing to a pleasant taste and many sought-after medical effects. E.g. myrcene, found in many indica strains, reduces resistance in the blood-brain barrier, allowing for greater nutrient transport between the blood and brain. It also increases the saturation levels of CB1 receptors, allowing you to get higher without overdoing it.
The smell of vaporized cannabis only lasts a few minutes, and smells similar to cooked popcorn rather than burnt plant matter.
Vaped cannabis buds can be stored and used in cooking
The clarity of the high is improved.
Vaping can be done discretely indoors.
Vaping is the obvious choice for health-conscious individuals. But until the prices on vaporizers are lowered, smoking cannabis will remain the most culturally significant method of ingestion. If you have the money to spare and cannabis is a way of life for you, a vaporizer is an essential investment. The improvement in the clarity of the high alone makes vaporizing worthwhile. Remember that any money you spend on vaporizers contributes to their production, hence lowering costs and making them more widely available to others in the future. A dollar toward vaporizing is a vote for good health and proper use of the cannabis plant.