[Canniseur: There are two sides to this issue. Mr. Adams outlines both the pros and cons of consuming cannabis via burning and inhalation. Both arguments are fairly obvious, but it’s nice to see both sides of the issue put together.]
There is a lot of noise these days about medical marijuana and its place concerning wellness. The average American has come to believe that using cannabis, regardless of whether that is whole-plant marijuana or hemp-derived CBD products, may help them ward off all of the despicable diseases put here to destroy us. Some of these people, however, have shown up late to the party, and are just now jumping on board the medicinal cannabis train in hopes that it will keep them above ground.
However, depending on how these people choose to consume this product, they might actually be doing themselves more harm than good. So, we have to ask the question: Should health-conscious consumers really be smoking marijuana to stay healthy or treat disease?
Well, it doesn’t take a degree in aerospace engineering (that’s rocket science) to know that smoking anything is not the healthiest thing to do. The lungs simply do not take kindly to being filled with burnt plant particles. It doesn’t matter if the smoke comes from burning wood, tobacco or marijuana, toxic chemicals and carcinogens can enter the body when it is inhaled. And it’s these toxins that can bring about disease and respiratory issues. Sure, many cannabis advocates argue that marijuana smoke doesn’t pose the same health risk as tobacco, but health experts say that isn’t necessarily true.
“Smoke from marijuana combustion has been shown to contain many of the same toxins, irritants and carcinogens as tobacco smoke,” according to a report from the American Lung Association.
Regardless of the potential risks involved, smoking is the most common consumption method on the cannabis scene. Even though there are now a variety of presumably safer pot products on the market — edibles, drinks, oils, tinctures — that the medical marijuana community could be using instead. But those products still need more time to catch on. We still live in a society that thinks of cannabis as something that needs to be smoked as opposed to orally consumed like most other drugs. This means it could be a while (we might be talking decades) before we see a drastic shift in the preferred consumption method of the average cannabis user. For now, smoking is here to stay.
But are there any benefits to smoking marijuana, even if the user is trying to manage their overall health?
Most people prefer smoking marijuana to other forms of consumption because the effects are instantaneous. If a person is using cannabis to help them with something like social anxiety, there is no time to mess around — they need to feel calm, and the sooner, the better. So, in situations where the user, for whatever reason, needs or wants to be high right now, smoking is perhaps the best option. And it sure beats going without, that’s for sure. It is also easier for a person to control their buzz through smoking than it is with any other method of consumption. We seldom hear of anyone suffering from a full-blown canna-panic after smoking a joint, bowl or bong. Those types of freak out moments, which are reportedly causing more people than ever to rush to the emergency room, are typically experienced through the use of edibles. The onset time of these products can be an hour or more. And it is easy to overdose (not the deadly kind) when using these products.
Another benefit of smoking weed is the ability to sample a variety of strains at one time. When medical marijuana patients first get involved with a program, it can be difficult at first to find a specific strain that works best for them. Smoking makes it easier for them to find the best possible strain.
Are there any other reasons?
Well, a lot of the old school stoners simply prefer smoking to any other consumption method. These are the people who have been getting ripped up for years, decades even, legal or not, and they’re not about to buy into the neatly packaged corporate cannabis construct. Heck no, these are tokers for life, and most will tell you that they haven’t experienced any health problems yet as a result. This testimony is not scientific by any stretch, but it is what they have chosen to believe.
However, there are plenty of reasons not to smoke marijuana.
For starters, without concrete research to tell us any different, the chemicals produced from burning buds could be damaging to the lungs. There is no real evidence that smoking marijuana increases one’s risk of lung cancer, but there’s not really any that says it doesn’t either. For this reason alone, even if there is only a small chance of it causing lung cancer or any other disease, the health-conscious consumer should avoid smoking. The smell associated with weed smoke is also a concern for some folks.
Instead of smoking, many cannabis experts recommend a microdosing regimen (2-5 mg of THC as needed) using cannabis edibles. The buzz is more of a body high than in the head, but there is no risk of health issues as a result of the smoke — only feel goods. It is also reasonable to suggest that consuming edibles might help a person smoke less marijuana than if they were using the burn method exclusively. Edibles also make it easier and more discreet to get high at work and other places where pot needs to be kept on the downlow. You can’t just fire up a joint in the break room when you need to.
Unless, of course, you have my job.