3 alternatives to smoking cannabis

January 20, 2021

Here at leafie we advise using cannabis safely, for beneficial uses, and with the minimum risks involved. We all know that smoking tobacco is detrimental in plenty of ways but countless cannabis smokers surprisingly consider themselves as non-smokers. The truth is startling: in actual fact, smoking cannabis bears many of the same health risks as smoking tobacco, especially as the two substances often go hand-in-hand. A 2016 survey found that over 75% of cannabis users in the UK mix the drug with tobacco. Smoking cannabis is linked with large airway inflammation, increased airway resistance, and lung hyperinflation and regular smokers are more likely to display symptoms of chronic bronchitis.

If you’re seeking a healthier way to smoke or ingest cannabis, there are some alternative ways which we are going to explore here. Do bear in mind that risks come with all ways to do so, but the options we suggest are less harmful than the toxic carcinogens that inhaling smoke carries. Now that there is a better understanding of cannabis’s medicinal properties, a great many consumers want to take advantage of maximizing these health benefits whilst reducing the potential dangers of cannabis use and it’s side effects. 

Vaping flower

Vaping has become a popular alternative for both tobacco and cannabis smokers but as you may have seen in alarming news reports, vaping can cause significant damaging health effects. The booming vaping market faced a backlash after a wave of casualties linked to additives found in unregulated concentrate vape cartridges were exposed. 

The promising news for cannabis smokers is that this evidence appears to apply only to vaping concentrates, not flower. Vaping the actual cannabis flower can be both a safer and more economical way to consume cannabis.  

Vaping flower means heating the cannabis to a temperature where the active compounds in the flower are converted into vapour, which is then inhaled through a device (a pen or vape). The vapour is far cleaner and cooler than smoke, therefore less damaging to the lungs. The vaping process also maintains more of the beneficial cannabinoids, making the vaping flower more economical by using and burning fewer cannabis buds.

Edibles and tinctures

Consuming edible cannabis products are far safer than inhaling cannabis smoke. As COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, the pandemic has made the public more aware of their health, especially of exposing the lungs to further harm and potentially causing any damage to our immune or respiratory system which in turn, could make one more likely to feel more severe symptoms if the virus is caught. As chronic lung diseases, often common amongst long-term smokers, are frequent underlying conditions in patients hospitalized with COVID-19, now is surely the time to switch from smoking to ingesting cannabis. 

Radhika Ratnabalasuriar, an emergency medicine specialist and medical-marijuana practitioner, suggests to her patients that they should use edibles and/or tinctures as a way of consumption: “Prior to vaping-related lung injuries, we still knew there was a risk of recurrent bronchitis and laryngitis (with smoking  cannabis)…when you eat something, it’s going through that slower metabolism, and that’s why it takes 60–120 minutes to kick in, but you’re not getting that direct exposure to your lungs.”

There are now infinite numbers of edibles and tinctures to choose from: gummies, drinks, oil to name a few. Just remember that overdoing it can be easy with edibles – be patient in waiting for effects to kick in if that is what you’re going for! For those aiming to reap some of the healing properties of CBD, there are thousands of delicious edibles now available to choose from. 

Transdermal patches

Transdermal cannabis patches are a novel way to consume cannabis: there is no need to ingest or inhale to experience the effects you desire, making them discreet and time-saving. Patches require little effort from users, all the work is done by a simple patch which is stuck on specific areas on the body. Transdermal patches work by providing a way to allow cannabinoids to enter the bloodstream. The patches containing cannabinoids, pass them straight onto our skin where they diffuse through our cells, making their way to blood vessels. Furthermore, patches are available with various cannabinoid ratios or isolated cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBN, THCA) meaning they can be tailored to the consumers desired effects. An example of this is using a CBD patch to target inflammation of a specific area. 

Because the cannabinoids are absorbed slowly over a number of hours, the effects are often longer-lasting than with other methods of consumption, and not as intense (when using THC patches). As patches are super easy to use, effective and precise, they are a fantastic option for those who want simplicity and efficiency in their cannabis regime.

Now, whether you use cannabis medicinally or recreationally, the bottom line is that smoking this plant is going to be the most damaging to your health in the long-term. 

At present, there is such a broad array of alternative cannabis products that can help you get your fix, it’s worth trying out some of these and seeing if they work for you. With edibles, oils, tinctures, patches and certain vapes, you can keep cannabis in your life without causing needless harm to the lungs. 

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