Vaping vs Smoking Cannabis: Is Vaping Safer?

Vaping vs Smoking Cannabis: Is Vaping Safer?

Updated: 02/05/2024

The debate between smoked and vaporized Cannabis has been and remains a topic of keen interest and discussion. Everyone wants to know — is vaping better for you than smoking? While there’s no straightforward answer, emerging research and health considerations offer intriguing insights.

This article aims to explore the complexities surrounding vaping and smoking cannabis, examining their respective effects, benefits, and risks. Join us as we navigate this compelling topic below!

What’s the Difference Between Smoking and Vaping Cannabis?

Smoking and vaping are two popular methods of consuming cannabis, but they work in fundamentally different ways. Smoking involves burning the plant matter, releasing its active compounds along with cannabis smoke and harmful byproducts. Vaping, on the other hand, heats the cannabis to a lower temperature, creating a vapor that contains cannabinoids but significantly fewer harmful toxins.

When examining the varying effects of vaping versus smoking cannabis, we observe the following distinctions:


Smoking Cannabis

Vaping Cannabis

Onset of Effects Offers an immediate onset of effects, as the smoke directly enters the bloodstream through the lungs. May have a slightly delayed onset compared to smoking, due to the different heating processes.
Duration of Effects Tends to have a shorter duration of effects. Often results in a longer-lasting effect, attributed to the efficient delivery of cannabinoids.
Efficiency of Delivery Less efficient, as a significant amount of cannabinoids are lost through combustion and side-stream smoke. More efficient in delivering cannabinoids, heating cannabis just enough to release the active compounds without destroying them.
Convenience and Portability Generally less convenient and less discreet due to the need to carry a smoking apparatus and the noticeable smoke and odor. Generally offers greater convenience and portability, with discreet and easy-to-use devices available.

To gain a deeper understanding of the health effects associated with smoking versus vaping marijuana, let’s explore this topic in further detail.

Smoking Marijuana

Smoking marijuana involves different methods that affect both the experience and health outcomes. This practice can be categorized based on the method of consumption and the subsequent health impacts, particularly on lung health:

  • Joints and Blunts: Rolling cannabis in paper, with joints using lighter rolling paper and blunts using heavier, often tobacco-leaf wraps. Being continuous burning methods, they may expose users to more smoke that contains more harmful components, including tar.
  • Pipes: A simpler method where cannabis is smoked directly through a small, handheld device.
  • Bongs and Water Pipes: Utilize water to cool the smoke, with bongs being more straightforward and water pipes often more complex. Bongs may reduce smoke inhalation per use but still do not filter out all harmful substances.

As you can see, the most common methods of consuming marijuana involve burning the dried plant material. This process releases smoke, which contains harmful chemicals like tar and carbon monoxide. When inhaled, these particles penetrate deep into the lungs, depositing themselves on delicate lung tissue. This constant exposure triggers inflammation and irritation, leading to a range of respiratory problems.

Studies have also shown that regular users experience a decrease in their lung capacity and impaired air exchange compared to non-smokers. This means their lungs are less efficient at delivering oxygen to the body, leading to shortness of breath, especially during physical activity.

Long-term exposure to the smoke and tar from marijuana can lead to chronic bronchitis. Research also suggests a link between smoking marijuana and an increased risk of lung cancer (while the evidence remains inconclusive, the potential for this serious health consequence should not be ignored).

Vaping Cannabis

Vaping Cannabis

Vaping is the process of heating cannabis to a temperature that releases its active compounds as vapor instead of smoke. While it boasts potential advantages over traditional smoking methods, concerns remain regarding its long-term health effects.

Common methods of cannabis vaping include:

  • Dry Herb Vaporizers: Heat the cannabis flower directly, allowing for the consumption of whole buds and preserving the natural flavor profile.
  • Vape Pens and Cartridges: Utilize concentrated cannabis oil, offering a discreet way to consume cannabis.

Unlike smoking, vaping delivers cannabinoids in the form of a vapor, potentially reducing the risk of respiratory irritation and inflammation. Additionally, the lower temperature involved in vaping minimizes the formation of harmful combustion byproducts, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are known carcinogens. This feature potentially makes vaping a less harmful alternative to smoking cannabis, although further research is needed to confirm this claim conclusively.

Despite its potential advantages, vaping cannabis is not without risks. Limited long-term research exists on its health effects, making it difficult to assess the full spectrum of potential consequences. Furthermore, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and heavy metals may be present in vape products, posing a potential risk of lung injury.

Other Methods of Cannabis Consumption

For those concerned about the risks associated with smoking or vaping cannabis, various alternative methods of consumption provide different experiences and effects, each with unique characteristics:

  • Edibles are a popular alternative, encompassing a wide range of food and beverage products infused with cannabis. The edibles are known for being long-lasting with a gradual onset, plus represent no risk of lung irritation or inhalation of harmful byproducts. However, it’s important to start with a low dose to avoid the risk of overconsumption.
  • Tinctures are another method, involving concentrated cannabis extract dissolved in alcohol or oil. They are known for being fast-acting, especially when absorbed sublingually (under the tongue), and avoiding lung exposure entirely. Tinctures offer versatile dosing but require careful administration to avoid overconsumption.
  • Topicals, including creams, lotions, and balms infused with cannabis, provide a different approach altogether. Applied directly to the skin, topicals are used for localized pain relief and inflammation reduction. A key benefit of topicals is that they do not produce psychoactive effects, making them a suitable option for users seeking the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without the high.

Is Vaping Better than Smoking?

Is Vaping Better than Smoking?

While vaping has emerged as a popular alternative to smoking, the question of whether it’s truly “better” remains unanswered. A lack of long-term research on its effects hinders a definitive conclusion. However, preliminary findings suggest that vaping may expose users to fewer harmful substances than smoking traditional cigarettes. This is primarily due to the absence of combustion, which eliminates the production of tar and carbon monoxide – two major culprits in smoking-related health problems.

Despite this potential advantage, it’s crucial to remember that vaping isn’t harmless. The aerosol inhaled still contains various chemicals and heavy metals, raising concerns about potential health risks. Additionally, the long-term effects of these substances remain unknown, requiring further research and caution.

Therefore, when choosing a consumption method, individual factors and preferences should be carefully considered. Some individuals may find vaping less harmful, while others may experience adverse reactions. Additionally, personal beliefs and risk tolerances play a significant role in making this decision.


Understanding the risks and benefits of each cannabis consumption method, be it vaping or smoking, is crucial for making informed choices. The decision ultimately hinges on individual health considerations, preferences, and desired experiences.

At Windy City Cannabis, we recognize the importance of this choice and are committed to guiding our customers through it. We invite you to visit our store, where our knowledgeable team can help you explore our diverse range of products. Whether you’re a seasoned consumer or new to cannabis, Windy City Cannabis is here to support your journey toward finding the method that best aligns with your personal needs and preferences.

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