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?
7 Tips to Make Your High Last Longer
If you’ve ever wondered how to make your high more intense, this list is exactly what you’ve been looking for. Especially if you’re an experienced consumer with a higher tolerance, getting high can become increasingly difficult over time. Fortunately for you, we know how to get the most out of your high and push your experience to the next level. Several of these suggestions on how to get higher are tried-and-true, while others might surprise you.
Eat A Couple Mangoes
Several studies over the last few years have verified that eating mangoes will enhance your high. Mangoes are rich with myrcene terpenes, a chemical compound also found in cannabis. All you have to do is eat one or two of these delicious fruits before you smoke (roughly one hour beforehand). The terpenes from the mangoes will interact with THC from the weed to elevate the intensity and duration of your high. Not only is it cheap to use fruit to get you higher, but it also tastes good. This solution is a definite win-win (unless you hate mangoes, of course).
Snack on Some Nuts
While not quite effective as mangoes, nuts offer another easy answer for how to increase your high. The next time you toke up, grab a bag of nuts and snack on them throughout the duration of your high. Nuts are a natural source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to promote the growth of cannabinoid receptors. After eating nuts while high, you’ll notice an increased, soothing intensity along with a longer duration. Cashews, walnuts and almonds are some of our favorites, and they just so happen to have more fatty acids than other types of nuts. Some studies suggest an uptick in your fatty acid intake only increases the intensity and duration of your highs for about a week, so know that this probably isn’t a permanent solution. But hey, even if they aren’t an answer for how to get more high from marijuana, nuts are still a great snack for when those munchies hit.
Sip On Some Tea
Along with being soothing and delicious, a hot cup of tea could be your answer for how to get really high. Tea contains antioxidants that bind to cannabinoid receptors in our endocannabinoid system, which leads to an improved mood and higher relaxation levels. All you have to do is sip on tea while you partake in your favorite cannabis product and let the entourage effect stimulate your high in a new way. This option is ideal for people looking to enjoy a more relaxing, mellow high.
Get Up and Exercise
It might sound counterintuitive, but exercise may be one of the most effective keys to learning how to make your high last longer. There aren’t many studies related to this solution, but a growing community of people are suggesting that marijuana and exercise should absolutely go hand in hand. Running and other endurance sports often provide people with increased endorphins, decreased pain and higher levels of energy, a phenomenon called the “runner’s high.” Recent research suggests this may be the product of our endocannabinoid system, the same system effected when you smoke weed. So, if you’re looking for new ways to enjoy your high, try combining it with a run. Get out there, break the mold and try combining your high with a good old-fashioned runner’s high.
If you’re wondering “what can make me higher” and have the space available, you might consider hotboxing. This incredibly efficient method of smoking simply requires a closed-off room and some quality ganja. Seal yourself (and a few friends) off in a small room or inside a car and simply smoke. Without any ventilation, smoke will continue to fill the space until every breath you take provides a small dose of THC. From then on, all you’ve got to do is breathe. For the most iconic ambiance and heaviest smoke cloud, go with a classic joint or blunt. Another option is to dab, which will create a more concentrated smoke.
Have a Few Beers
Of course, we couldn’t make this list without giving you the classic crossfade option, since many of us have probably already figured this out from personal experiences. If you’re looking for how to get high faster, drinking a couple beers, then smoke weed will usually do the trick. Although we do not recommend doing so (unless you fully understand what to expect), consuming in this specific order (alcohol then weed) will intensify your high. Studies show that alcohol increases THC absorption, which means a stronger high from less weed. Again, combining alcohol and weed can cause intense effects that you may not want, so be mindful of this.
Mix Up How You Smoke
If you’re at the point where you can’t get high like before, it might simply be time to mix things up. The best way to smoke weed to get the highest may be different from your standard routine. As you well know, there are plenty of different ways to smoke and ingest marijuana, but not all of them offer the same types of high. Try considering one of these options:
- Pipes – Quick and easy to use, pipes offer a filter free method that don’t trap as much THC as other smoking devices may.
- Edibles – Less THC is generally consumed and it takes longer for the effects to hit, but you’re more likely to stay high for a longer period of time.
- Dabbing – Although many people feel intimidated by this method, dabbing concentrates allows you to consume high doses of THC with less product. It’s not recommended for beginners, but is very easy to learn!
- Vapes – Easy to take most anywhere and simple to use, vapes offer the best method for continuous smoking over a long period of time.
- Gravity Bongs – This method forces a heavy concentration of THC-filled smoke into your lungs, which means you’re much more likely to get really high. Heads up, though – a gravity bong high can be downright overwhelming.
In addition to changing up how you smoke, also consider what type of weed your smoking. Different strains offer different highs. Check out our website to look for local dispensaries near you. A professional budtender you can trust will be the best person to help answer how to make your weed stronger and your high more intense.
Do you have any great tips on how to get higher? Share it with us in the comments below!
If you’ve ever wondered how to make your high more intense, this list is exactly what you’ve been looking for. Especially if you’re an experienced consumer with a higher tolerance, getting high can become increasingly difficult over time. Fortunately for you, we know how to get the most out of your high and push your experience to the next level. S