Whether you’re a novice or experienced smoker, vaping marijuana affects you in a very specific way. This is because unlike traditional smoking, marijuana vaping has varying effects on individuals. We understand this better by looking at a John Hopkins University study focused on this topic.
John Hopkins Study
There was a small study made about people who used cannabis occasionally. The researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine found that when compared with smoking cannabis, marijuana vaping using cartridges had the tendency to increase the rate of several side effects.
The new study published the results in the Nov. 30 edition of JAMA Network Open. The results of this study emphasized the relevance of considering dosage while maintaining the perception that cannabis vaping is safer than smoking cannabis. Because of these results, the researchers requested the dispensaries of recreational and medical cannabis take note.
Vaping devices and vaporizers heat marijuana to a temperature wherein the psychoactive compounds found in the plant get released as a vapor that the user would inhale. There is a belief that vaping is a safer choice when using tobacco and cannabis since it doesn’t produce many harmful components created by burning material.
However the findings of the study indicate that, especially for first-time vapers and those who don’t use marijuana regularly, marijuana vaping delivers higher amounts of the compound known as THC. This is the main intoxicant in the cannabis plant which increases the risk of experiencing negative reactions.
For this study, the researchers selected 17 volunteer participants consisting of 8 women and 9 men. They all took a drug test to confirm that they had not taken marijuana in the past month or 30 days. On average, the participants had not used marijuana in more than a year.
While in a controlled environment, the 17 participants either vaped or smoked marijuana which contained 0, 10 or 25 mg of THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis. They visited the Johns Hopkins research unit once a week over a period of 6 weeks.
According to the researchers, 25 mg of THC is a “low dose,” and it’s much less than what you would typically find in cannabis joints available in dispensaries. The participants either vaped the cannabis with a vaporizer or smoked it using a pipe. In each experimental test session, neither the researchers nor the participants knew the THC dosage.
At the end of every session, the researchers observed the participants and evaluated the effects of the drug in each of them. They also checked for any adverse reactions. Lastly, they monitored the vital signs of the participants and collected samples of their blood right after marijuana vaping or smoking.
Each of the participants completed a Drug Effect Questionnaire where they rated the effects of the drug using a scoring system. They did this right after the session and each hour for up to 8 hours after the session. The researchers used these questionnaires to assess the overall effects of the drugs to the participants of their study.
The findings showed that a couple of minutes after marijuana vaping or smoking, those who vaped 25 mg of THC reported an average of 77.5 on the potency of the drug which meant that they felt the “high” faster compared to those who smoked with the same dose.
Also, those who vaped reported a higher average score for paranoia and anxiety compared to those who smoked using the same dose. The vapers also reported increased levels of dry eyes and dry mouth compared to the smokers.
The participants also performed 3 tasks on computers. These tasks were specifically designed to gauge memory, motor movement, attention span, and physical reaction time. The tests represented the skills required to perform in the workplace properly and to be able to perform normal daily activities.
On average, the reaction times were about 120 milliseconds slower after the participants had vaped or smoked with THC compared to those who vaped or smoked cannabis which doesn’t contain THC.
The next test focused on comparing the effects of marijuana vaping and smoking using a computerized Divided Attention Task. In this test, the accuracy of the participants decreased by an average of 170% after they smoked 25 mg of THC compared to those who smoked cannabis which didn’t contain THC. But for those who vaped THC, their accuracy dropped to an average of 350% even though they only vaped using a dose of 10 mg.
When they used 25 mg of THC, their accuracy dropped by 500%. These results showed that the level of impairment was significantly higher when you vape THC compared to when you smoke it. This meant that trying to perform everyday tasks after vaping isn’t recommended.
Other findings show that the THC levels found in the blood were at their highest right after vaping or smoking cannabis. After using 10 mg of THC, the levels in the blood reached 7.5 nanograms per milliliter in those who vaped and 3.8 nanograms per milliliter in those who smoked.
After using 25 mg of THC, the levels in the blood reached 14.4 nanograms per milliliter in the vapers and 10.2 nanograms per milliliter in the smokers. As you can see, there are significant differences in how much THC reaches the bloodstream when you vape versus when you smoke the drug. So you need to take the proper doses to ensure that you’re taking cannabis safely.
It’s also important to note that the researchers were only able to detect the THC in the collected blood samples up to 4 hours after the participants used the drugs. However, they claimed that they could still feel the effects of the drugs up to 6 hours after taking them. Because of this, the researchers said that blood testing isn’t the most accurate method of determining whether a person feels high.
Of course, the study only focused on a small group of adults, and it only lasted for 6 weeks. This means that we cannot make conclusions on the long-term effects of marijuana vaping, especially for those who do it regularly.