VAPE: The Changing Face of Cannabis Consumption
It doesn’t matter which way you look at it… burning a flower and inhaling the resulting smoke isn’t all-that-brilliant for one’s long term lung health.
While smoking cannabis is still far healthier than smoking tobacco , many health-conscious cannabis enthusiasts want to do better than simply ‘healthier than tobacco’.
Cue the rise of the vaporisers!
Consumers in the good ol’ U-S-of-A are increasingly shunning blunts and bongs, in favour of dry herb vaporisers and oil cartridges.
Eaze – a large American cannabis retailer – reported a 400% increase in oil cartridge sales from 2015 to 2016; while dry herb sales fell from 75% to 54% of total sales .
Unfortunately, we don’t keep these figures in Australia. What we do know, however, is that a similar proliferation of vaporisers has occurred. The massive rise in stores that sell vaporiser accessories is a testament to that.
‘What the Health’ are you talking about?
Those of you who are dedicated cone-punchers might be scratching your heads at this point; wondering why any sane person would spend potentially hundreds of dollars on a vape.
The first and most compelling reason comes from academic research. Study after study indicates that people who vaporise cannabis experience far fewer respiratory issues than smokers; with heavy smokers benefiting the most .
Now, at this point, you might be thinking ‘that’s a problem for future me’. I can’t stop you continuing on your merry, bong-smoking way… but there are real benefits from vaporising, which you will notice almost immediately.
Let me paint a picture: you’re spluttering and coughing up a storm. You place the bong back on the coffee table. Your lungs are on fire; your throat hurts, and your head is spinning; but not in a good way.
If this sounds similar, you might just want to consider buying a vape. Vaporisation occurs at a much lower temperature than combustion; giving your lungs and throat much less grief.
Welcome to ‘Flavour Country’
This point is purely subjective; but I dare you to give it a try, and see for yourself. Vapour is plain tastier than smoke.
When your cannabis is exposed to temperature greater than 2000c (such as in the case of the flame of a butane lighter),  many of the terpenes that give cannabis its myriad of wonderful aromas are destroyed. In their place, carcinogenic byproducts are produced.
Some cannabinoids begin to vaporise at temperatures just over 100 degrees Celsius; while the vast majority are vaporised at temperatures less than 230 degrees .
Commercial vaporisers are limited to 250 degrees; meaning more terpenes and cannabinoids survive the process of combustion. This gives rise to a tastier and more cerebral experience.
Dammit, I’m Out; Time to Call ‘Old Mate’.
No, Hang On… Wait, There’s Actually Plenty Left.
We’ve all been there. It’s Friday evening; you’ve had a rough week, and you just want to have a smoke and watch some Netflix.
You pull out your stash, only to discover a few sad looking stems staring back at you. 🙁
If you want to smoke, you’ll have to call old mate… who will tell you he will be there in an hour. Only to go silent until Wednesday. Classic old mate.
While nothing but a bit of competition from legalisation will make ‘old mate’ more reliable… vaping can help you see a less of him. People who vape frequently report significant reductions in cannabis consumption. This is because vaping is a far more efficient way of consuming cannabis.
Vaping has been shown to produce almost twice the amount of cannabinoids, in comparison to smoking; while producing 3 times’ less harmful byproducts .
This represents a very real saving in day-to-day life. Assuming consumption halves as efficiency doubles; a couple consuming 7 grams a week can reasonably expect to save $2000 over a year.
If your budget doesn’t afford you the amount of cannabis you would like to consume, switching to vaping effectively means you get twice the cannabis for the same price.
Is that $200 vape still looking like such a bad deal?
Vaping Isn’t for Everyone; and That’s Okay
You don’t have to like vaping; and you don’t have to make the switch. You do, however, need to be aware that there is a much healthier option than smoking.
If you prefer smoking, and acknowledge the downsides, smoke away. Most people who vaporise do not do so exclusively . There’s nothing wrong with letting loose and smoking, every now and then.
Wherever you sit on the ‘smoking vs vaping’ spectrum, industry trends suggest that vaporising is here to stay.
 Melamede, Robert. (2005). Cannabis and tobacco smoke are not equally carcinogenic. [Review]. Harm Reduction Journal,2(21), Harm Reduction Journal, 2005, p.
 Fischer, B., Russell, C., & Tyndall, M. (2015). Cannabis vaping and public health—some comments on relevance and implications. Addiction,110(11), 1705-1706.
 Barnwell Sara, & Earleywine Mitch. (2007). Decreased respiratory symptoms in cannabis users who vaporize. Harm Reduction Journal,4(1), 11.
 Pomahacova, B., Van der Kooy, F., & Verpoorte, R. (2009). Cannabis smoke condensate III: The cannabinoid content of vaporised Cannabis sativa. Inhalation Toxicology, 2009, Vol.21(13), P.1108-1112,21(13), 1108-1112.
 Cranford, J., Bohnert, K., Perron, B., Bourque, C., & Ilgen, M. (2016). Prevalence and correlates of “Vaping” as a route of cannabis administration in medical cannabis patients. Drug and Alcohol Dependence,169, 41.