Is There a Safer Way to Smoke Cannabis? How the Methods Stack Up
If you’re looking for the healthiest way to smoke cannabis, keep in mind that there’s no totally safe way to do so — even with the purest, most pesticide-free bud. Cannabis smoke contains most of the same toxins and carcinogens that make tobacco smoke harmful to your health.
There are, however, methods that may be slightly less harmful than others. Here’s a look at how different methods compare, plus some smoke-free alternatives to consider.
The dangers of smoke inhalation are well known, so it’s not surprising that a lot of folks assume vaping is the healthier alternative to smoking. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
There’s mounting evidence that vaping can have serious health effects. Much of the concern comes from inhaling vitamin E acetate, a chemical additive found in many vaping products containing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
However, this risk seems to apply only to vaping concentrates, not flower. A 2006 study suggests that vaping actual cannabis, not concentrate, is less harmful to your respiratory system than smoking. Still, research on vaping cannabis is pretty limited.
Lung health aside, there’s also a matter of potency. People who vape cannabis report experiencing stronger effects — regardless of the amount of THC in the product — than they do when smoking. This means a higher chance of overdoing it, or greening out, when vaping.
Maybe a teeny, tiny bit, but nowhere near enough to make a difference.
Bongs offer a smoother toke because you don’t get the dry heat from smoking cannabis rolled in paper. Though it feels less harsh when you inhale, your lungs don’t know the difference.
Well, both still involve inhaling smoke, so there’s that. But if you had to choose the lesser of two evils, joints are probably the better option. This is because blunts are made with hollowed-out cigars, and cigars and their wrappers are highly toxic.
Even after removing all the tobacco from a cigar, cancer-causing toxins, such as nitrosamines, can remain. Plus, cigar wrappers are more porous than rolling papers, so the burning is less complete. This results in smoke with high concentrations of toxins.
Then there’s the matter of size. Blunts are a lot bigger than joints, and they hold way more pot. Smoking an entire blunt is like smoking roughly six joints.
Dabbing is supposed to give you a “cleaner” high, but what does that actually mean? Not much.
Budder — another name for dabs or marijuana concentrate — delivers a lot more THC than other weed products, often as much as 80 percent more.
Dabbing is still pretty new, so experts still don’t know the full impact.
There’s evidence that exposure to high THC may lead to long-term mental health effects, like psychosis. The risk of misuse and addiction is also higher when using high-THC products, especially for young people.
Plus, unless you have high-tech lab equipment and are trained in extraction, your dabs may be far from pure. Research shows that dabs can contain contaminants and residual solvents that can to neurotoxicity and cardiotoxicity.
Dabbing also has respiratory effects, even though you’re not technically “smoking.” There have been cases of people developing lung damage from dabbing.
The bad news? There’s no safe way to smoke cannabis. The good news? There are plenty of other ways to consume it.
Here are your main options:
- Edibles. Unlike smoking and vaping, ingesting cannabis won’t harm your lung health. The downside for some is that edibles take longer to kick in because they need to clear your digestive system before getting into your bloodstream. The upside is that the effects also hang around longer. You also have an endless variety to choose from, with everything from gummies to baked goods to cannabutter.
- Sublinguals. These are usually lumped together with edibles, but they’re not quite the same. Unlike edibles, you don’t actually swallow sublingual forms of cannabis, which include things like tinctures, films, and dissolvable tablets. Sublingual cannabis is placed under the tongue for absorption, and is absorbed through your mouth’s mucus membranes, so the effects are felt faster.
- Tinctures. Tinctures are made of alcohol-based cannabis extracts that come in bottles with droppers. You can add tinctures to drinks, but you can also get the effects faster by placing a few drops — depending on your desired dose — under your tongue.
- Topicals. Cannabis topicals are for people looking for the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without the cerebral effects. Creams, balms, and patches can be applied to the skin to relieve inflammation and pain. There’s also cannabis lubricant made for, well, sexy time.
- Suppositories. The idea of shoving cannabis up your butt (or vagina, depending on the product) may make you clench, but it’s definitely a thing. Most of the suppositories on the market are CBD-infused and used for therapeutic reasons, like pain or nausea relief, but some brands have upped their THC content for added effects.
If you’d still rather smoke your weed despite the risks, consider these harm-reduction tips to help make it a little safer:
- Don’t hold the inhale. Inhaling deeply and holding it in exposes your lungs to more tar per breath. Don’t be greedy; exhaling faster is better for you.
- Use rolling papers approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Rolling papers may seem like NBD, but some contain chemicals and flavorings that can be toxic.
- Stick to glass bongs and pipes. Plastic bongs can contain chemicals like BPA and phthalates, which have been linked to serious health effects, including cancer.
- Keep your stuff clean. Keep your bongs and pipes clean, and don’t roll your weed on dirty surfaces.
- Don’t share mouthpieces or pass joints. Sharing your stash is fine, but not your pipes, bongs, or joints. When you share these, you’re basically swapping spit with that person and putting yourself at risk for infections.
No matter how you dice it, there’s really no safe way to smoke cannabis, whether you prefer to roll one up or are partial to bongs. As cannabis becomes more popular, so do products that allow you to indulge without the smoke.
That said, if you’re partial to puffing and passing, a vaporizer that allows you to use flower, not concentrates, may be a less harmful option.
Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddleboard.
You can smoke cannabis in a variety of ways, but is one safer or healthier than others?
How to Get Higher When Smoking Weed
Whether you are a seasoned cannabis enthusiast or just starting out, you may find yourself wondering how to get higher when smoking weed. Sometimes this is a result of building up a tolerance, or maybe what you’re doing just isn’t giving you the high you were expecting. Whatever the reason may be, you shouldn’t miss out on enjoying that premium Washington-grown bud you picked up from Zips Cannabis to the fullest. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to help you boost the intensity of your high!
8 Easy Ways to Boost Your High
1 – Change Up Your Weed
There are a variety of different types of weed. From differences in quality and potency, to the different strains (Indica, Sativa, & Hybrid). If you high is falling flat, it may be time to change up the type of weed you are smoking. We suggest checking out something like Phat Panda OG Chem or Green Crack Buddy Boy, both are Sativa’s with a high THC level.
Feel free to swing by your local Zips Cannabis dispensary and one of our budtenders will be happy to introduce you to some new or popular strains.
2 – Change Up Your Method
The type of weed you smoke is only half the equation. The WAY you smoke makes a big difference on your high. If you’ve only been smoking joints for while, it may be time to something like a bong or vaporizer. However you are consuming your cannabis currently, if you can’t seem to get a good high going, try changing up your method. Some methods we suggest include:
Gravity Bongs – These will force heavily concentrated smoke into your longs, almost certainly giving you a stronger high. They can be easily made from common household items too. Just be cautious, a Gravity Bong isn’t for the faint of heart.
Bubblers & Bongs – With the water filtering and cooling aspect, you can inhale a larger and smoother hit.
Vaporizers – Not only is vaping a healthier option, a vaporizer heats up your cannabis to the perfect temperature without burning off any of the psychoactive chemicals.
Pipes – Iconic and timeless for a reason. Pipes don’t have any filtration process that could potentially trap THC.
Edibles – Your body processes edibles differently compared to inhaling smoke. This difference could be just what you need to get a stronger high!
3 – Change up Your Routine
If you are hitting a plateau with your high, chances are you’re smoking routine has become pretty mundane as well. Try smoking in a new place, with new people, or even at a different time in the day. We are creatures of habit, and our bodies tend to adapt. By opening up your mind to a new experience while smoking, you will probably find your high to be a lot more engaging.
4 – Smoke After a Workout
Hit the gym or go for a nice long walk. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins to help ease the pain, and when you’re done working out these endorphins tend to help clear your mind and leave you feeling good. That natural post-workout high will provide a solid base for your smoke sesh. Achieving a better high is good motivation to workout too. It’s a win-win!
5 – Use a Grinder
Using a grinder is good standard practice for getting the most out of your weed. Imagine if your microwave evenly cooked your Hot Pocket, instead of always leaving half of it frozen. Evenly ground up flower from a grinder will allow for neater packing, even burning, and subsequently a better high.
Plus, when you use a grinder, you’ll end up with a powdery byproduct known as Kief. This residue is actual super concentrated THC. You can sprinkle this Kief on your bowl for an extra kick!
6 – Eat Some Mangoes
Mangoes contain a chemical compound called myrcene, which is also found in many cannabis stains. Studies suggest the myrcene in cannabis interacts favorably with the THC, helping extended its psychoactive effects. In theory, more myrcene in your body will help increase your high. Although the effects are not guaranteed, it doesn’t hurt to try! Worse case scenario you enjoy some delicious mangoes, best case scenario you enjoy some mangoes and get a little extra high!
7 – Take Your Time Inhaling
If you are new to smoking, you may find yourself being a little awkward with the inhaling process. If you want to get a better high, it’s important to slow down and make sure you are truly inhaling that smoke. Try following a 4-2-4 count: gently inhale for 4 seconds, pause for 2 seconds, then exhale for 4 seconds. Also try pulling the bowl or joint away from your mouth for a second to inhale some fresh oxygen as well. This will help push the smoke further into your lungs.
8 – Take a “Tolerance Break”
We hate to say it, but sometimes you just have to take a break from smoking and let your body build up a tolerance. Smoke less, and each time will feel stronger. This is the probably the most “guaranteed” method for getting higher when smoking weed. Try limiting yourself to only smoking on certain days, or block out a time period each month.
Visit Zips Cannabis for More Ideas on How to Intensify Your High
The budtenders at Zips Cannabis are just as passionate about cannabis as you! If you are curious on how to intensify your high, or have any other questions like how hide the smell of weed, feel free to swing by and chat with us! We will be happy to share our personal tips and tricks.
How to get higher when smoking weed is an age old question but rest assured that the team at Zips Cannabis is well trained on getting higher than expected!