Ask Ruby: Smoking vs vaping cannabis – what’s the difference?

August 18, 2021

Every month our resident CBD and cannabis expert Ruby Deevoy answers your questions in her agony aunt column Ask Ruby. If you have a burning question about CBD or cannabis get in touch: askruby@leafie.co.uk

“Dear Ruby, I’ve been a regular cannabis smoker for years but I’m considering switching to vaporising for the sake of my lungs! I was wondering if this will make any difference to the effects?”

In short, yes! A huge difference. 

Whole plant cannabis is laden with cannabinoids (over 140 of those) terpenes (more than 100 of these) and flavonoids (estimated to be up to 10% of the plant’s compounds). Many of these appear to have potent therapeutic potential and some even enhance or dampen the high from THC. 

You won’t get all of them in the same strain, but you’re likely to find a decent selection and each of these compounds activate (and burn off) at different temperatures, which is why consuming raw cannabis won’t get you stoned. But, when you opt for a joint over a vape, the vast majority of these quite literally go up in smoke! Having the luxury of being able to precisely control temperatures (which many vaporisers offer) completely changes the game.

Knowing what you hope to get from using cannabis, whether that’s specific medicinal benefits or just getting high, swotting up on the effects of different compounds (and their boiling points) will allow you to tailor the vaping experience to your needs. You can even dedicate one bowl to delicate terpenes, flavonoid and minor cannabinoid consumption, by using lower temperature settings, and another to more robust cannabinoids, for the full array.

Here’s a rough guide on approximate vaporising temperatures for some of the main terpenes, flavonoids and cannabinoids to get you started:

Caryophyllene: 119°C

Caryophyllene is known as a ‘dietary cannabinoid’ as it binds to CB2 receptors, which can make it great for pain management. Anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant with a spicy scent.

α-pinene: 156°C

Anti-tumour, anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, fresh pine flavour and scent

THC: 157°C

Best known for being the psychoactive cannabinoid that gets you high, but THC also offers a tremendous range of therapeutic benefits. These include stress and pain relief, nausea suppressant, migraines, sedation, seizure control and much more.

CBD: 160

Often used for anxiety and stress relief, anti-inflammatory properties, as a muscle relaxant, seizure disorders, for arthritis and much more.

Myrcene: 166

Sedative, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, peppery, fruity aroma. Some strains have up to 65% terpene make-up with this one!

Limonene: 177°C

Uplifting, energising, anti-microbial, citrus flavours

Apigenin: 178°C

Flavanoid with muscle relaxant, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective qualities. A compound of interest for the potential treatment of Alzheimer’s and diabetes.

Cannflavin A: 182°C

A very special flavonoid with potent anti-inflammatory effects and exciting neuroprotective potential.

CBN: 185°C

Pain-relieving, appetite-stimulating, sedative with mildly psychoactive effects.

Linalool: 198°C

Anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, insect repellent, spicy floral flavour

THCV: 220°C

Stress-relieving and being studied for its potential use in treating PTSD and diabetes.





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