If you’re a cannabis noob, a lightweight, non-user or even an occasional toker, smoking flower is probably preferable to vaping it. That is, unless you’re trying to get reeeeeal high…
A new study published in JAMA Network Open on November 30th, suggests that vaping cannabis results in a much stronger high compared to smoking it — at least, for people who don’t use cannabis very regularly. For anyone with a low tolerance, using a vaporizer might send you sailing straight past the “golden zone” and into dangerously high territory.
“What our study suggests is that some people who use cannabis infrequently need to be careful about how much cannabis they use with a vaporizer,” Ryan Vandrey, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told Eureka Alert. “They should not drive, even within several hours after use. It could be dangerous for themselves and others, and on top of that, they may experience negative effects such as anxiety, nausea, vomiting and even hallucinations.”
To a veteran pot smoker, that might sound like exactly the kind of fix you’re looking for. But to someone with little-to-no tolerance, getting that high can be an uncomfortable and even frightening experience. If your familiarity with pot is only casual, and you go ripping the shit out of your friend’s vape pen, you’re probably about to take a ride you didn’t sign on for.
The study examined 17 volunteers, all of whom passed a drug test to prove that they had not used cannabis within 30 days prior. Researchers gave participants different doses of cannabis, which the volunteers either smoked (out of a prepacked bowl) or vaped. They were then run through a series of tests designed to assess their reaction times, their memory, motor movement and attention span.
“Our participants had substantially higher impairment on the tasks when vaping versus smoking the same dose,” Tory Spindle, Ph.D., a researcher in the behavioral pharmacology research unit at Johns Hopkins Bayview, told Eureka Alert. “Which in the real world translates to more functional impairment when driving or performing everyday tasks.”
Not only did the study participants report that they felt 11 percent higher after vaping versus smoking, but their paranoia was greater by 7 percent, their dry mouth was drier by 25 percent and their reaction times were significantly slower — by 120 milliseconds on average.
Vaping, it seems, is just a more intense high. Which, to a regular cannabis user, might seem intuitive — but for non-users that can be a tricky dosage differential to grapple with.
Vaping appeals to a lot of people because it is supposedly “healthier” than smoking. Essentially, a vaporizer super-heats cannabis to the point where the psychoactive ingredient, THC, turns into vapor — which is then inhaled. It doesn’t produce the same kind of tar and cancer-causing agents that torching flower does, so a lot of people (particularly people who don’t like smoking and don’t use cannabis very often) tend to be drawn more towards vaping.
But just because it’s better for your lungs, doesn’t mean it isn’t going to get you stoned off your ass.
So, if your relationship with Mary Jane is less than familiar, maybe stick to bowls and/or joints. Or, if you're hell bent on using a vape, just keep it light. Less is more, and more is probably too much.