Smoking is the most common way of using cannabis. However, it’s not the only option. You can also inhale cannabis in other ways: vaping oils and dabbing concentrates.
When should your customers choose the inhalation route? What pitfalls should they be aware of? Read on for an evidence-based assessment of consuming cannabis via inhalation.
With inhalation, you’re breathing the cannabis into your lungs. This is the method preferred by the majority of cannabis users because it’s simple and provides instant effects.
The most common inhalation route is smoking whole, dried cannabis flower. However, you can also vape cannabis oil or dry herb, and dab wax, shatter, and other cannabis concentrates.
When you breathe in smoke or vapour, the cannabinoids and other active ingredients are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, which is why the effects are nearly instant.
The key concern with inhaling cannabis is safety. Smoking uses combustion, which can create unwanted toxic compounds. Vaping, on the other hand, creates a vapour.
While this vapour can also contain potentially dangerous chemicals, research suggests that vaping cannabis is safer than smoking it.1
Dabbing is also considered a form of vaporization. However, if operated incorrectly at high temperatures, dabbing can produce toxic compounds similar to smoking.
The main advantage of consuming cannabis via inhalation is the instant effects. An added benefit is that it’s easier to use the right amount since you can immediately tell if you took enough.
Another advantage of inhalation is the sheer fun of smelling and tasting different flavours and blowing smoke or vapour clouds. It’s also arguably the most enjoyable way to use cannabis in a social setting.
Most people also consider dabbing to have some of the strongest effects out of any consumption method, likely due to the large amounts of THC present in cannabis concentrates.
One disadvantage of inhalation is that the effects last the shortest out of any consumption method — approximately 1 to 4 hours.2
However, the main downside has to do with the risks of breathing in potentially dangerous chemicals. This is especially true for smoking cannabis because combustion can create toxic and carcinogenic compounds such as hydrocarbons.3
For example, it’s well established that chronic smoking of cannabis can result in respiratory issues such as coughing and bronchitis.4
While vaping is considered much safer because it doesn’t involve combustion, we don’t know enough about its long-term safety.
This was highlighted by the recent outbreak of vaping-associated lung injury in the United States, where most of the cases involved vaping cannabis.
Additionally, studies have reported that vape devices can produce acetaldehyde5 and other potentially toxic substances and may increase cardiovascular health risks.6
Dabbing can also produce toxic substances such as benzene, particularly when high temperatures are used.7 The bottom line is that inhaling anything other than air carries health risks.
Are Inhalable Cannabis Products Right for Your Customers?
Inhalation is the most popular way to use cannabis. Rather than thinking of why a customer might want to use this method, it’s easier to think of reasons they wouldn’t.
For example, some people may be concerned with the health risks. Others might dislike inhaling smoke, in which case vaping or dabbing can be a good alternative.
Someone else may be looking for long-lasting effects, which means edibles or sublingual oils can be a better option.
Looking for the right inhalable cannabis product for your customers? Compare hundreds of products in our Producer Connect platform.
1 Tashkin, Donald P. “How beneficial is vaping cannabis to respiratory health compared to smoking?.” (2015).
2 Borodovsky, Jacob T., et al. “Smoking, vaping, eating: is legalization impacting the way people use cannabis?.” International Journal of Drug Policy 36 (2016): 141-147.
3 Loflin, Mallory, and Mitch Earleywine. “No smoke, no fire: what the initial literature suggests regarding vapourized cannabis and respiratory risk.” Canadian journal of respiratory therapy: CJRT= Revue canadienne de la therapie respiratoire: RCTR 51.1 (2015): 7.
4 Ribeiro, Luis IG, and Philip W. Ind. “Effect of cannabis smoking on lung function and respiratory symptoms: a structured literature review.” NPJ primary care respiratory medicine 26.1 (2016): 1-8.
5 Ogunwale, Mumiye A., et al. “Aldehyde detection in electronic cigarette aerosols.” ACS omega 2.3 (2017): 1207-1214.
6 Peruzzi, Mariangela, et al. “Vaping cardiovascular health risks: an updated umbrella review.” Current emergency and hospital medicine reports 8.3 (2020): 103-109.
7 Meehan-Atrash, Jiries, Wentai Luo, and Robert M. Strongin. “Toxicant formation in dabbing: the terpene story.” ACS omega 2.9 (2017): 6112-6117.