Despite the myriad of ways one can ingest cannabis, many still choose to vaporize or smoke. Why?

Actually there are measurable reasons. First, a few that apply to both smoking and vaping:

When smoking or vaping, you are utilizing the “whole” flower (aka bud). Important medicinal compounds in the flower, such as the terpenes, are left intact. Conversely, these terpenes may be removed in the extraction process when making oil or gel caps. Terpenes, besides contributing aroma and flavour, have the ability to interact with other active compounds in the plant. The process is called the entourage effect. Terpenes can affect what THC levels reach the brain and what neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine are available to receptors. Similar to cannabinoids, terpenes bind to receptors in the brain and stimulate effects like relieving pain, aiding sleep, and reducing inflammation.

Another reason many people choose these ingestion methods is because the onset with smoking or vaping  is almost immediate. There are other ingestion methods, like oil, that can take up to two hours for peak effect. In the case of acute pain or nausea, one may want more immediate relief.

Smoking and vaping also allow more easily controllable doses. You have a pretty good idea almost right away what effect you have reached. The effect typically lasts for a few hours. Sometimes this is a more desirable timeframe than oils which can last far longer.

You have a far greater selection of strains to choose from in the dried flower. You can pinpoint what strains works for you,  and even mix blends like the non-impairing potentially anxiety and inflammatory reducing CBD with your favorite THC flower.

So, as mentioned, both smoking and vaping share an abundance of qualities. However, further benefits beyond these will be found in vaporizing.

VAPING:

When we speak of vaping, we are talking about vaping the ground dried flower. To begin, you will need a dried flower vaporizer. Vaporizers can run from $100 to $300 for portable, battery-operated vaporizers. Desktop models are also available but are more expensive. Personally, I have been vaping for some time now and a portable vaporizer is all I’ve used.  

You’ll need to purchase cleaner for your unit which can be as simple as isopropyl alcohol and cue tips. This is important. A clean vaporizer is a happy vaporizer.

Vaporizing is much better for your lungs than smoking. Respiratory hazards of smoke are due to toxic by-products of combustion, not the active ingredients in the plant. In vaporizing there is no combustion. You are producing vapour – not smoke.  This removes, on average, 95% off the carcinogens.

Vaping also removes the smell of smoke. What you’re smelling and tasting is the terpenes and flavonoids. If discretion is important to you, vaporizing is far more discreet.

You utilize less of the product vaporizing than combusting. It’s more economical in the long run, even with factoring in the initial outlay. Add to this that you can use the after vaped products in edibles or topicals. After it goes through the vaping process, there is still thought to be around 30% of the medicinal compounds available for further extraction. Keep this brown tobacco looking ABV (already been vaped) or AVP (after vaped product) in a sealed mason jar to use in an infusion for topicals, suppositories or in cooking – or even to sprinkle on your cereal or yogurt for a muted effect. Because it is going through your digestive tract and liver, it will take longer to take effect but the effects will last longer.

Now let’s talk about heat. Some vaporizers will have degree by degree settings and some will have range temperatures settings. Pro Tip – if you want a good heat that will access the majority of the cannabinoids and terpenes you are safe to set your vaporizer setting around 193 – 210°C (380-410°F), however, if  you want to individually access any terpenes or cannabinoids, you can refer to a chart of boiling points to dial it in.

In this case you might  want to purchase a vaporizer with specific degree by degree heat settings. In other words, heat setting for vaporizing can depend on what compounds you are trying to access as they are ‘vaporized’ at different temperatures. Different terpenes and cannabinoids will have different medicinal effects. I typically vaporize at the same temperature 204 – 210°C (400 – 410°F)  as I’m not necessarily trying to isolate any boiling point. You may want a lower temperature if you find this a little harsh.

Vaping temperatures can range from 180 – 210°C (356 – 410°F). You will see more vapour above 204°C (400°F), but bear in mind this is vapour and not smoke. Most vaporizers are not capable of combustion which can occur above 232°C (450°F).

When first beginning vaporizing – after you have ground your bud and loosely packed it into the vaporizer chamber, you can take one or two small ‘sips’ and gauge effects. Keep in mind that holding in the smoke does not increase the effects felt.  Approximately 95% of the cannabis is absorbed in the first few seconds of inhalation.

If you are used to smoking your cannabis, vaporizing may take a while to get used to. Stick with it and experiment with higher heat settings. Before long you will start to see many of the benefits. If you have further questions about vaporizing, feel free to come visit us at our local Education Centre!

— Kait Shane, Community Outreach Educator Natural Health Services. Follow Natural Health Services on Twitter @NatHealthserve.

For further insight into all things cannabis, don’t forget to check out The Cannabis Show (new episodes every Wednesday) and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The Cannabis Show is also available as an audio podcast, subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, TuneIn, and Overcast.

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