Is there a difference between smoking and vaping marijuana? New research finds that vaping marijuana instead of smoking it actually results in greater effects and higher THC in the bloodstream.

Cannabis Test

To find out the effects and influences of smoked and vaporized cannabis on previous users, researchers of a new study funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration gathered 17 healthy participants, all of whom had previously used cannabis but not within 30 days before the study.

For six 8.5 hour sessions, the 17 participants either smoked or vaped cannabis with 0 mg, 10 mg, or 25 mg of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in THC. All the participants smoked and vaped all three doses in six sessions, but they were unaware of the dosage they got each time. There was a one-week washout period between each session

Participants completed drug-impairment questionnaires and were subjected to various physical and cognitive tests during each session. Specifically, over the course of eight hours, the participants’ heart rates were checked 10 times, and they were asked to complete computerized tasks, answer simple addition, and respond to two different stimuli. The blood samples, heart rates, and blood pressures were taken at same time points.

Vaped Cannabis More Potent Than Smoked Cannabis

The results revealed that at both low and high doses, vaping marijuana results in higher THC concentration in the bloodstream and causes more mistakes on the cognitive tests. Further, vaping marijuana also resulted in more adverse effects such as itchy eyes, paranoia, and dry mouth compared to those who smoked the marijuana.

Interestingly, even the highest dose of THC that was used in the study was actually still lower than the THC concentration in common pre-rolled cannabis. As such, the researchers note how important it is for people who use cannabis to understand that effects can be experienced even in small doses and that not all means of partaking end up with the same results. This is even more relevant amid the growing marijuana industry along with marijuana legalizations across the United States and Canada.

“These data can inform regulatory and clinical decisions surrounding the use of cannabis among adults with little or no prior cannabis exposure,” researchers concluded, also noting that the effects of marijuana are likely to differ across products and users.

The study is published in JAMA Network Open.

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