New Study Finds Vaping Cannabis is More Powerful than Smoking It

We’ve looked before at whether vaping or smoking is going to get you higher – but now researchers have confirmed what we already knew, vaping is more potent than smoking.

Researchers conducted a study at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, involving 17 adults with an average age of 27 who rarely used marijuana. In most cases, the participants had not used cannabis in at least a month, and in most cases it had been about a year – meaning a current tolerance to THC would not impact the study.

“More people are coming into cannabis dispensaries and using for the first time in a while or for the first time ever,” Tory Spindle, a postdoctoral research fellow at Johns Hopkins told NBC News. “They should be aware that vaping will produce stronger effects. We found there was a fine line sometimes between a dose that produced the desired effects and one that was too strong.”

The study consisted of having participants smoke and cape cannabis at strengths of 0 milligrams (as a control), 10 milligrams, and 25 milligrams, during six separate eight-hour sessions, with a week between each session.

Once the volunteers consumed the cannabis, they were tested on their cognitive and motor abilities, and asked to fill out a questionnaire rating items such as drug effects (pleasant or unpleasant), whether they felt sick, if their heart was racing, if they felt anxious or nervous, relaxed or paranoid, sleepy, restless, motivated, if they got a case of the munchies and if their eyes were red and/or irritated and whether they had dry mouth.

“Two people vomited from the high dose,” Spindle said. “One actually experienced some audio and visual hallucinations. Some experienced paranoia as well. So it’s not just about impairment. The negative effects can be quite unpleasant.”

Overall, these are all side effects that are well known – and many of which are desired by cannabis use. However, for those who are unexpecting, the intense feelings experienced after vaping are not always welcomed – some are even entirely unpleasant, like eating too much THC in the form of edibles.

While this study certainly proved that vaping is more potent than smoking when it comes to cannabis, it also proved that “start low and go slow” is not only meant for edibles. Ensuring that you are starting with a lower dosage is important no matter how you go about consuming cannabis, especially for new and inexperienced consumers who haven’t built up the tolerance often held by regular consumers.


Jillian Nelson