Why you should vaporize your medical marijuana

Why you should vaporize your medical marijuana

Recreational cannabis users have long touted the virtues of vaporizing marijuana over smoking it. Now, a growing number of medical marijuana patients are eschewing smoking in favor of vaporization.One of the main reasons they’re making the switch is that vaporization delivers the same, if not more, benefits as smoking marijuana without any of the negative health implications. Medical marijuana physicians and other cannabis professionals are also increasingly recommending vaporization, helping to fuel a booming market in both vaporizers and medical marijuana varietals produced for this method.Vaporization refers to devices designed to vaporize the active ingredients in plant material. Vaporizers include various forms of extraction chambers, and are often made of metal or glass. The extracted vapor may be contained in a jar or inflatable bag, or inhaled directly through a hose or pipe. Vaporizers often produce very little or no smoke.Vaporizing offers two different heating methods: conduction and convection. Conduction is the transfer of heat through direct contact while convection involves heat transfer via air particles. Conduction heating is found often in portable vaporizers than desktop units.“I absolutely recommend [vaporization] over smoking,” said Anton Mattadeen, chief strategy officer at MediJean, a Canadian bio-pharma medical cannabis company. “It doesn’t create any issues with tars. There are no combustibles. With vaporization, you’re simply heating up the substance until it releases the natural oils. It doesn’t have any negative effect on your lungs, as opposed to when people smoke… it creates real potential health issues.”Vaporization is an alternative health professionals also recommend to patients.  According to Terry Roycroft, founder and director of the Vancouver, British Columbia-based Medical Cannabis Resource Centre Inc. (MCRCI), which educates and trains Canadian physicians about medical marijuana and provides information and assistance for patients, “You get virtually the same effect and the same quick onset of the medication as smoking, except that vaporizing occurs at 190 degrees so you’re not combusting any of the carbon, with its carcinogenic effects.”Many doctors agree, asserting that vaporization is a safer alternative to smoking.“While smoking cannabis doesn’t cause cancer or emphysema, it can cause bronchitis and chronic cough,” explained Dr. William Eidelman, a Los Angeles-based physician who recommends medical marijuana as a natural medicine to treat a variety of ailments. “On this level, vaporization is safer.”The science seems to back up these claims. Research has shown that emissions from vaporizing are 95 percent smoke- and carcinogen-free, while combusted smoke gases consist of 88 percent non-cannabinoids, including numerous known polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), carcinogenic toxins common in tobacco smoke.Dr. Sanjay Gupta (right) with a medical marijuana patient using a vaporizer. Scene from his documentary WEEDMedical marijuana patients tend to be very knowledgeable about their medicine and how to administer it. More and more of them are putting out their joints and mothballing their pipes as they discover the benefits of vaporizing.“It’s less harmful than smoking,” said Lee Forest, a 36-year-old patient from Ionia, Michigan who suffers from digestive problems, back pain and migraine headaches. “A properly tweaked vaporizer doesn’t actually burn the material. Smoking is hard on the lungs. It’s wasteful… and typically causes lung problems and breathing difficulties over time.“Vaporizing, on the other hand, quickly absorbs [the medicine] and you don’t blow anything out so it’s less wasteful. Plus, it doesn’t have the harmful smoking effect on your lungs. In fact, after switching from smoking to vaporizing I’ve actually noticed an improvement in my breathing.”C. Paul Mayfield discovered vaporizing when he tried a friend’s high-end $420 vaporizer. The 39-year-old lives in Florida, where medical marijuana is not legal, and vaporizes to treat his obsessive-compulsive disorder and chronic knee pain.“THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) helps keep me mentally sound in this crazy-ass world,” explained Mayfield. “Vaporization gives a different kind of [relief], a combination of head and full-body high. What I found in my research is that vaporizing primarily releases THC and not much else, unlike smoking, which turns all the plant material into carcinogens. It doesn’t take a genius to know that carcinogens are bad.”Many physicians who recommend medical marijuana claim that smoking the plant does not cause cancer.“In 40 years of studying the effects of smoked cannabis on the lungs, you really can’t find any negative effects except maybe a little bronchitis,” Dr. Donald Abrams, chief of hematology and oncology at San Francisco General Hospital, told The Medical Marijuana Review in an interview for a previous article. But a 2013 study of heavy, long-term marijuana smokers conducted by researchers from the University of Northern British Columbia determined that they had as much as double the risk of contracting lung cancer as non-smokers. Similar research in New Zealand also founda link between heavy marijuana smoking and elevated lung cancer risk.Safety is only one of the reasons why medical professionals recommend vaporizing over smoking. A less tangible benefit is realized by many patients who opt for vaporizers over rolling papers.“Vaping provides better relief in that it affects my body and head, not just a mental high,” said Mayfield. “Also, vaping cleared up the nasty phlegm I would cough up in the mornings. Overall, I just feel better [when vaporizing].”Forest also likes that vaporizing “often feels like a combination between a body buzz and a head buzz.”He added: “It’s really relaxing and comfortable, and the effects last longer.” Echoing Mayfield, Forest noted that “the overall effects are better with vaporizing.”Bad dabsThere is one vaporizing trend that has some experts a bit worried. The use of butane hash oil (BHO), a resinous form of cannabis obtained through solvent extraction, has soared in recent years as delivery devices, most commonly vaporizer pens, have exploded in availability and popularity. â€œDabbing,” as BHO vaporization is known, can deliver exceptionally high concentrations of THC – as much as 90 percent – making it possible to overdose on marijuana, although this is a very rare occurrence. Producing BHO is also a dangerous process that has been compared to making methamphetamine, in that home laboratory explosions are not uncommon.“It’s pretty prevalent here in Vancouver,” Roycroft said of dabbing. When asked if he believed BHO is safe, he said that “it depends on how it’s made.”“Obviously, butane, if it’s not extracted properly, can be very bad for an individual to be smoking. Unless someone knows the proper way to do it, there is a danger.”Higher-quality butane extracts, known as honeycomb and shatter, have a much higher purity. Alternative production methods such as CO2 and ice water extractionare also viewed as safer than dabbing, with the latter using no dangerous chemicals.“It doesn’t leave any residual [toxins] in your body, but still gives you the same medicinal benefits,” said Roycroft.“The jury may still be out,” Mattadeen said of extracts. “As long as it can be proven that there are no by-products from the process, then I think it’s a safer alternative to smoking [dry marijuana].”While Dr. Eidelman points out that butane “has no function in the human body,” he says “it does not appear to be so dangerous in small amounts.”Still, dabbing has a reputation among the vaporizing community as the â€œcrack of pot,” and some medical marijuana advocates believe its increasing popularity, with alarmist stories of explosions and overdoses making headlines across the U.S.and Canada, could threaten the seemingly inexorable progress towards legalization.For all its popularity, there are some limitations to vaporizing.Roycroft said vaporizing has a much faster onset, but the effects only lasts for two hours and it doesn’t give you the same comprehensive anti-inflammatory muscle relaxation of pain killing as using edibles. “I would recommend edibles for someone who wants to sleep. If you smoke or vaporize, it will help you get to sleep. But once that wears off, people tend to wake up in the middle of the night. For people with chronic pain who want to sleep through the whole night, they may use vaporization to fall asleep but they’ll have either a pill or an edible that will help them sleep through the night.”When weighing the benefits against the shortcomings of vaporization, most experts – and many patients – agree that “vaping” wins hands-down over smoking.“We always recommend that people vaporize over smoking,” said Roycroft.“Comparing the different means of medicating, vaporizing is the most effective and the least wasteful for me,” added Forest.Source: http://medicalmarijuana.medijean.com/why-you-should-vaporize-your-medical-marijuana/

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