Smoking vs. Vaping Medical Marijuana

a woman blows out a huge cloud of medical marijuana vapor

Today, more people than ever are able to use medical marijuana legally. Pain relief is now available in a non-addictive form for everyone holding a medical marijuana card.

Medical marijuana also treats nausea, stimulates an appetite and can even improve anxiety and depression.

Medical marijuana has many health benefits. There are also many ways it can be taken. There are edibles of all kinds, drinks, capsules, tinctures, oils, and joints.

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Edibles can take hours to take effect and they are not always easy to dose.

Smoking the traditional way using a joint, a pipe or a bong is the fastest way to get relief, but it can cause throat irritation and coughing.

Science has yet to prove that marijuana smoke is completely safe.

It has fewer harmful substances than cigarette smoke, but it still contains traces of carcinogens which can contribute to cancer.

Vaping or vaporizing is different. It heats the plant and extracts the compounds active in the marijuana.

It releases traces of benzene and some carbon monoxide but nothing as significant as what smoke does.

There are slight differences in how the marijuana burns or heats up with smoking versus vaporizing. Which is the best way to consume your medical marijuana?

The following information will help you decide because either way, there are fans of smoking marijuana and fans who swear by vaping.

Smoking and Vaping: The Big Differences

Most marijuana users smoke it. Smoking combusts the flower, creates the smoke which is inhaled and the user absorbs the drug’s compounds instantly.

No special equipment is needed but some people like using apparatus such as bongs or pipes.

Vaping is different in that it does not burn the flower. It heats it up with a battery-powered device. Users can put a flower in the device or they can use concentrated waxes or oils. Because no smoke is created, it is less irritating than smoking.

It cuts down chances of inhaling burning embers and the plant’s particles which occur with smoking.

a guy vaporizes medical marijuana

Other Vaping Factors

  • Lower temperatures for consumption
  • Greater efficiency absorbing cannabinoids
  • Fewer carcinogens

The above are what differentiate vaporizing from smoking. They heat the cannabis at lower temperatures and do not burn the plant. It can melt resins which turn into a form of steam which is easier to inhale than smoke.

Smoking burns the plant but vaporizing heats it at a variety of temperatures. You select the temperature you want for a customized experience.

You cannot do that with a joint. Note that if you set your vaporizer to above 445 degrees F it will burn the cannabis making the experience a lot more like smoking.

But, unlike smoking, you do have more control over how you ingest your cannabis.

Setting it lower can give you a more potent dosage of the plant which, together with less irritation, provides greater pain relief or other intended side effects you want from the plant.

Vaporizers also make cannabinoids more efficient.

When you smoke, you lose about 50 percent of them the moment you light up. As the smoke burns, another 20 percent of the medical compounds burn with it. This is not the case with vaping, so you get more of what you need more efficiently when you vape versus smoke.

a pile of medical marijuana on a table

The toxic compounds and carcinogens that are present in marijuana smoke are not present in vapor. Studies have been done and it has been shown that vaping does not create the toxins or the carcinogens found in smoke.

Again, it should be noted that cannabis smoke from a joint has not been found to be as dangerous as cigarette smoke, but with vaping, your chances of inhaling these are virtually non-existent.

The Benefits of Smoking and Vaping

Smoking has one major benefit and that is of offering smokers a faster high. It also produces stronger effects. It costs less than vaping because you do not need to use anything but buds. With vaping, you need concentrates or oils. Vaping also requires equipment, and if you use a vaping pen, it needs to be charged up before you can use it.

Many users claim that smoking is a better way to get high. You also use less cannabis when smoking because vaping tends to require more puffs to get the same level of high as smoking a joint.

For instance, you need one hit to get the pain relief you are after when you smoke. If you vaped, you would need to do several more hits to feel that same relief.

a weed bud sits on the lid of a jar

Smoking cannabis is also cheaper than vaping but you might be able to get your insurance to cover some of your vaping items. This leads to the discussion about the benefits of vaping because there are several.

Vapor is much easier on the throat and lungs. It feels cleaner to inhale. There are also some cities where marijuana is legal even for recreational purposes, but smoking is against the law. If you live in one of these areas, you have little choice but to vape.

It is clear that vaping is a lot healthier than smoking is but, as discussed earlier, it is less potent than smoking. Still, you can adjust your vaporizer exactly how you like it so that you get the effects you want and the taste you enjoy.

The effects last a little less than they do with smoking but since you are not inhaling harmful toxins it should not be a problem.

For many users, vaporizers are easier than smoking. You can press a button on your pen, inhale and you are done. With smoking, you, of course, need to light the joint or pipe and then inhale and repeat. But with a vaporizing pen, you need to check that it is fully charged. If you have a tabletop unit that plugs into an outlet you do not have to worry about this.

Smoking is portable and can be done anywhere except where it is illegal to do outside. Vape pens are portable and do not create smoke, so they will not cause you to break any laws,

You can load your bowl or roll a joint anywhere. As long as you have a way to light it, your smoking experience is not much more complicated than this. When you own a vaping device, you have to make sure and clean it or it will not produce clean, fresh vapors with flavor.

Your joint will give you a reliable dose every time you smoke. A pen or tabletop unit that is getting low on its battery charge will not. You have to make sure it is ready to go before you use it or you could experience some disappointment.

Still, vaping is developing to the point where many items are very easy to use. The pens are perhaps the easiest. They do charge quickly, and they are portable and discreet. You can choose to use flowers or concentrates, too, so you can always use the one you prefer at the moment.

Getting the Dosing Right

No matter which you prefer, and maybe you will find you have uses for both smoking and vaping depending on your mood or situation, you need to get the dose correct.

Smoking really is foolproof here. You probably already know the types of buds and strains that you enjoy and that offer you the level of pain relief or other benefits you are looking for. You smoke as much or as little as you like and you are good.

With vaping, you do need to learn what works for you and what works with the device you own. suggests dosing lightly in the morning. To do this, the vaporizer would need to be set at a low temperature.

a woman blows out a huge cloud of medical marijuana vapor

For another dose later in the day, setting it to 380 F will produce thick vapor and produce stronger effects. If you need help sleeping at night, putting the device up to 450 F will produce vapors that are a lot like real smoke, but they will give you an intense physical effect to induce restful sleep.

Choosing What is Right for You

With a medical marijuana card, you have more choices than ever to heal your body and treat your pain or other medical condition. Marijuana is an amazing plant and it has so many benefits that it really does not matter whether you smoke it or vape it. You can apply it topically or use sublingual oil drops. You can eat it in candies and cakes.

It is up to you whether you prefer smoking or vaping. The debate is out as to whether vaporizers are better than smoking for several reasons. There is no correct way to ingest your cannabis. That is up to your preferences. You now know the differences and benefits of smoking and vaping, so you can make an educated choice as to what might be best for you.