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Is There a Safer Way to Smoke Cannabis? How the Methods Stack Up

If you’re looking for the healthiest way to smoke cannabis, keep in mind that there’s no totally safe way to do so — even with the purest, most pesticide-free bud. Cannabis smoke contains most of the same toxins and carcinogens that make tobacco smoke harmful to your health.

There are, however, methods that may be slightly less harmful than others. Here’s a look at how different methods compare, plus some smoke-free alternatives to consider.

The dangers of smoke inhalation are well known, so it’s not surprising that a lot of folks assume vaping is the healthier alternative to smoking. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

There’s mounting evidence that vaping can have serious health effects. Much of the concern comes from inhaling vitamin E acetate, a chemical additive found in many vaping products containing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

However, this risk seems to apply only to vaping concentrates, not flower. A 2006 study suggests that vaping actual cannabis, not concentrate, is less harmful to your respiratory system than smoking. Still, research on vaping cannabis is pretty limited.

Lung health aside, there’s also a matter of potency. People who vape cannabis report experiencing stronger effects — regardless of the amount of THC in the product — than they do when smoking. This means a higher chance of overdoing it, or greening out, when vaping.

Maybe a teeny, tiny bit, but nowhere near enough to make a difference.

Bongs offer a smoother toke because you don’t get the dry heat from smoking cannabis rolled in paper. Though it feels less harsh when you inhale, your lungs don’t know the difference.

Well, both still involve inhaling smoke, so there’s that. But if you had to choose the lesser of two evils, joints are probably the better option. This is because blunts are made with hollowed-out cigars, and cigars and their wrappers are highly toxic.

Even after removing all the tobacco from a cigar, cancer-causing toxins, such as nitrosamines, can remain. Plus, cigar wrappers are more porous than rolling papers, so the burning is less complete. This results in smoke with high concentrations of toxins.

Then there’s the matter of size. Blunts are a lot bigger than joints, and they hold way more pot. Smoking an entire blunt is like smoking roughly six joints.

Dabbing is supposed to give you a “cleaner” high, but what does that actually mean? Not much.

Budder — another name for dabs or marijuana concentrate — delivers a lot more THC than other weed products, often as much as 80 percent more.

Dabbing is still pretty new, so experts still don’t know the full impact.

There’s evidence that exposure to high THC may lead to long-term mental health effects, like psychosis. The risk of misuse and addiction is also higher when using high-THC products, especially for young people.

Plus, unless you have high-tech lab equipment and are trained in extraction, your dabs may be far from pure. Research shows that dabs can contain contaminants and residual solvents that can to neurotoxicity and cardiotoxicity.

Dabbing also has respiratory effects, even though you’re not technically “smoking.” There have been cases of people developing lung damage from dabbing.

The bad news? There’s no safe way to smoke cannabis. The good news? There are plenty of other ways to consume it.

Here are your main options:

  • Edibles. Unlike smoking and vaping, ingesting cannabis won’t harm your lung health. The downside for some is that edibles take longer to kick in because they need to clear your digestive system before getting into your bloodstream. The upside is that the effects also hang around longer. You also have an endless variety to choose from, with everything from gummies to baked goods to cannabutter.
  • Sublinguals. These are usually lumped together with edibles, but they’re not quite the same. Unlike edibles, you don’t actually swallow sublingual forms of cannabis, which include things like tinctures, films, and dissolvable tablets. Sublingual cannabis is placed under the tongue for absorption, and is absorbed through your mouth’s mucus membranes, so the effects are felt faster.
  • Tinctures. Tinctures are made of alcohol-based cannabis extracts that come in bottles with droppers. You can add tinctures to drinks, but you can also get the effects faster by placing a few drops — depending on your desired dose — under your tongue.
  • Topicals. Cannabis topicals are for people looking for the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without the cerebral effects. Creams, balms, and patches can be applied to the skin to relieve inflammation and pain. There’s also cannabis lubricant made for, well, sexy time.
  • Suppositories. The idea of shoving cannabis up your butt (or vagina, depending on the product) may make you clench, but it’s definitely a thing. Most of the suppositories on the market are CBD-infused and used for therapeutic reasons, like pain or nausea relief, but some brands have upped their THC content for added effects.

If you’d still rather smoke your weed despite the risks, consider these harm-reduction tips to help make it a little safer:

  • Don’t hold the inhale. Inhaling deeply and holding it in exposes your lungs to more tar per breath. Don’t be greedy; exhaling faster is better for you.
  • Use rolling papers approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Rolling papers may seem like NBD, but some contain chemicals and flavorings that can be toxic.
  • Stick to glass bongs and pipes. Plastic bongs can contain chemicals like BPA and phthalates, which have been linked to serious health effects, including cancer.
  • Keep your stuff clean. Keep your bongs and pipes clean, and don’t roll your weed on dirty surfaces.
  • Don’t share mouthpieces or pass joints. Sharing your stash is fine, but not your pipes, bongs, or joints. When you share these, you’re basically swapping spit with that person and putting yourself at risk for infections.

No matter how you dice it, there’s really no safe way to smoke cannabis, whether you prefer to roll one up or are partial to bongs. As cannabis becomes more popular, so do products that allow you to indulge without the smoke.

That said, if you’re partial to puffing and passing, a vaporizer that allows you to use flower, not concentrates, may be a less harmful option.

Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddleboard.

You can smoke cannabis in a variety of ways, but is one safer or healthier than others?

Taking a Break From Smoking Weed But Still Wanna Get Stoned?

Looking to get high while you self-isolate but don’t want to smoke weed? There are plenty of other ways to get the job done and some users are turning to alternatives in light of the current pandemic we’re experiencing. With coronavirus affecting the respiratory systems of those it infects, limiting smoke exposure on the lungs may be a wise decision.

But with edibles, tinctures, capsules, and other smoke-free ways to get high, it can be difficult to decide how to go about it. Why not try many ways? We’ve rounded up some of our favorite products from our Washington dispensary locations to pair with different at-home activities.

Make breakfast and start your day with a tincture

We advise against starting your day with cannabis if you work from home. However, if you have the day off or are not currently working at this time, a wake and bake session is in order. With a bit of a twist.

Starting your day with the Awake spray tincture from Green Revolution is a great choice, especially if you wake up and struggle to get out of bed, get breakfast on the stove, and really get started.

The spray combines the energizing effects of sativa with CBG and green tea extract. With 2.5 mg of THC per spray, it’s super easy to measure your dose and keep it controlled. Since it’s designed to energize, you won’t find yourself unable to get out of bed like the usual wake and bake scenario.

Pop open a cannabis soda for gaming or watching movies

Playing video games and watching movies have several things in common. You’re sitting in one place, your attention is on a screen, and you’re probably in the mood to snack.

Make it a movie theater experience and pop some popcorn to pair with a tasty cannabis soda. Our Bellingham dispensary has a classic cola from Olala, the perfect treat to pair with popcorn or potato chips. We’ve also got plenty of Ray’s infused lemonades and other treats across our Washington dispensary locations to satisfy your sweet tooth.

When you drink a cannabis soda, expect the effects to start taking place anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. If you’re not sure how high you’ll get from it, start slow and consider starting with a low-dose soda.

Soak in the tub with THC bath salts

Elevate your typical bath time experience with the help of THC bath salts. We love the Lavender Relax salts from CERES as they help provide a sense of calm and feel great on sore, achy muscles.

If you’re looking to relax and unwind, infused bath salts are the way to go. This brand also has several other products available, including CBD Moon Cycle bath salts. And while many of the products have THC, they won’t get you high in the way eating or smoking cannabis will. Instead, you’ll feel a sense of total body relaxation and relief.

Spice up a meal with infused ramen seasoning

The college students near our Bellingham dispensary can probably attest to the life-saving qualities of ramen. When you’re in a pinch and hungry, you’re only a few minutes away from a meal if you have some on hand.

We love the do-it-yourself doors that open with Lefty’s Ramen Seasoning. Whether you’re adding an extra kick to actual ramen, spicing up a different meal, or even sprinkling it on popcorn, you can’t go wrong with weed-infused seasoning packets.

Binge-watch TV with infused bon bombs

Ever wanted to “sit around, watch soap operas, and eat bonbons” all day? It may be an old, poorly-aged phrase mocking housewives, but we’d like to reclaim it. We’re doing the world a service by staying in right now, so why not make it the most enjoyable, laid back experience possible?

If you haven’t tried infused Bon Bombs from Verdelux, you’re missing out. There are several different varieties to suit everyone’s tastes, including some vegan options. They’re all gluten-free as well.

We highly suggest making a cozy, lazy afternoon of sitting around, eating bon bombs, and binge-watching a tv show. Make it something lighthearted or funny to keep your spirits high and allow your mind to focus on something other than the news for a change.

Be sure to plan out how many you plan to eat before you get distracted by mindless television. It’s hard to stop eating once you’ve had a taste.

De-stress with PTSFree capsules

While we’re making an effort to keep our customers safe and entertained during this time, we acknowledge the toll this situation can take on mental health. We’re in a stressful time of uncertainty and it can become overwhelming to cope with.

Taking walks around the block if you can, talking to support systems virtually, and practicing mindfulness can all help to relieve some of this stress, but sometimes we need a little more help.

We recommend Fairwinds PTSFree capsules. They’re not exclusively for people with PTSD and are designed to help anyone who is “seeking a shield for the noise of daily life.” The effects may be mildly intoxicating to some, but overall, the biggest sensation will be a sense of comfort.

If you find yourself anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed during this time, you’re not alone. Turning to less intoxicating products designed to comfort and relax may be the way to go.

Get ready for bed with a nighttime mint

If you’re one of the many people who use marijuana to unwind in the evening or help fall asleep at night, you’ll be happy to know there are plenty of ways to do so without smoking.

We love incorporating Moxey’s Mints in our nighttime routine. With several varieties ranging from CBD, THC, and combinations of the two, you’re bound to find one that suits your individual needs.

We love the Dream Lavender Mints because they combine the power of microdose THC and CBD with the soothing effects of lavender. They’re formulated to help relax users into sleepytime, not get them particularly high.

Our final thoughts

We hope our customers across all of our Washington dispensary locations and beyond are staying healthy and safe.

Many people are questioning whether they should be smoking right now or not. We encourage everyone to do their own research and make the best decision for themselves, taking into account their personal health and experiences.

If you’re choosing to abstain from smoking, there are so many ways to still get high. We hope our guide will help you to stay elevated during this whole ordeal.

Satori MJ is a recreational cannabis shop featuring many dispensary locations ! Check us on out on Yelp , Leafly , Instagram , Facebook , Google and Twitter.

Looking to get high while you self-isolate but don’t want to smoke weed? There are plenty of other ways to get the job done and some users are turning to…