Get Smart about Cannabis™

Submitted by Stephanie Annis on Wed, 11/06/2015 - 06:59

Cannabis inhalation is the more traditional form of cannabis therapy*. However, the modern generation has turned to vapor due to the belief it is a cleaner form of ingestion. While there are studies, some of which do state and make clear the lack of data, marijuana inhalation theories clearly need more studies need to take place in order to have solid science.

University of Washington’s Learn About Marijuana page shares research including the statement “no consistent association has been found between marijuana smoking and measures of airway dysfunction. Occasional and low cumulative marijuana use has not been associated with adverse effects on pulmonary function (Pletcher et al., 2012); the effects of heavier use are less clear.”

The University of Washington’s Learn About Marijuana page makes it clear the need for more study. Their website page Learn About Marijuana  states “several well-designed and large-scale studies, including one in Washington State (Rosenblatt et al, 2004), have failed to find any increased risk of lung or upper airway cancer in people who have smoked marijuana (Mehra et al, 2006; Tashkin, 2013), and studies assessing the association between marijuana use and cancer risk have many limitations, including concomitant tobacco use and the relatively small number of long-term heavy users – particularly older users. Therefore, even though population-based studies have generally failed to show increased cancer risk, no study has definitively ruled out the possibility that some individuals, especially heavier marijuana users, may incur an elevated risk of cancer. This risk appears to be smaller than for tobacco, yet is important to know about when weighing the benefits and risks of smoking. (Tashkin DP, 2013). More research on marijuana smoking and cancer is needed.”

The JAM Network, also known as, The Journal of the American Medical Association released a report, by a collaboration of doctors, titled Association Between Marijuana Exposure and Pulmonary Function Over 20 Years. The report released January 11, 2012 concluded “Occasional and low cumulative marijuana use was not associated with adverse effects on pulmonary function.” It continued saying “analyses of pulmonary function and lung disease have failed to detect clear adverse effects of marijuana use on pulmonary function.”

For every source which supports cannabis therapy and marijuana inhalation there is a contradicting source comparing it to tobacco. However, tobacco and cannabis are completely different and the data should not be compared. Concern over inhalation through smoking the cannabis flower has turned many cannabis therapy patients to vaporizing.

Vaporizing is inhaling a vapor rather than smoke using an electronic machine. The theory, inhaling concentrated vapors is safer than inhaling smoked flower, is do to the belief it is more natural and pure. While vaporizers are a relatively new products, the initial impression is that inhaling vapors is much safer; though some do believe there is not enough evidence to prove the safety of vaporizers because of the relatively short amount of time they have been on the market.

Wikipedia states “Studies have shown that vaporizing cannabis exposes the user to lower levels of harmful substances than smoking cannabis.” Which leads to the original source, an article from the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics. In the paper titled Cannabis Vaporizer Combines Efficient Delivery of THC with Effective Suppression of Pyrolytic Compounds the point is made “In principle, vaporization offers medical cannabis patients the advantages of inhaled routes of administration: rapid onset, direct delivery into the bloodstream, ease of self-titration and concomitant avoidance of over- and under-dosage, while avoiding the respiratory disadvantages of smoking.”

It continues saying “compared to other proposed non-smoked delivery systems using pharmaceutical extracts and synthetics, vaporization also offers the economic advantage of allowing patients to use inexpensive, homegrown cannabis.” Most patients using cannabis therapy do so not only because of it’s benefits but also because it is natural and they seek the purest treatment possible.

Cannabis Vaporizer Combines Efficient Delivery of THC with Effective Suppression of Pyrolytic Compounds. Gieringer. St. Laurent. Goodrich.

Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics, Vol. 4(1) 2004 (c) 2004 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

Association between marijuana exposure and pulmonary function over 20 years. Pletcher MJ, Vittinghoff E, Kalhan R, et al. Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco, 185 Berry St, Ste 5700, San Francisco, CA 94107, USA. mpletcher@epi.ucsf.edu

*cannabis therapy, defined as, the use of cannabis, will be used to denote the positive nature of cannabis rather than the traditional terminology typically used which has negative connotations.