Attitudes toward recreational Cannabis use have softened considerably over the years. Most of the credit for this goes to the sympathetic depiction pot has begun to receive in Movies and TV Shows. Compare a recent cult classic like 2008’s Pineapple Express to Reefer Madness from 1936 if you need rock-solid evidence (and a good laugh).
While society has generally adopted more permissive attitudes toward weed, some concerns remain. One of the questions we are asked most often is whether passive weed smoking – the inhalation of second-hand cannabis vapor – is harmful.
I understand where these apprehensions are coming from. I mean, we see warnings all around us when it comes to passive smoking.
Is Passive Weed Vapor Harmful to Others?
With Cannabis use booming, encouraged by the legalization of medicinal cannabis, many enthusiasts no longer feel they need to hide their ganja habit. Still, those who share their homes with babies, young kids, non-smokers, and pets wonder if the habit is as harmful to their loved ones as cigarette smoke and will it get them High?
The short answer to that question is ‘not really’.
In this article, I’ll delve deeper into why two practices that can seem very similar are actually inherently different. Learn the key differences between vaping and smoking Cannabis that make the former the far healthier option for both you and the people around you.
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Lets Compare Cannabis Vapor Vs Smoke
There is no doubt that vaping cannabis is healthier than smoking. There is a huge difference between the substances each process releases into the air which we will touch on below.
The essential difference lies in the fact that vaping does not involve the combustion of weed or anything else. Instead, heat is (should be!) applied only to the point where the beneficial compounds from the cannabis, such as THC is released without creating a single spark.
Compare that to smoking a joint, where you completely burn the rolling paper and all the weed inside. That means that traces of every chemical and contaminant the plant ever absorbed throughout its life finds its way into your body and into the air around you. Therefore into the bodies of your loved ones.
Tragic but true: tobacco cigarettes would never get FDA approval if they were invented today. Each is a horrendous concoction of chemicals that are not allowed in any food item for their toxicity and carcinogenic properties. And, there is no benefit to it at all.
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The Fire Factor when Smoking
Burning is not just a physical process; it is a chemical one. Combustion alters the chemical composition of whatever is burnt, and the effects are generally not positive. In fact, researchers say that even burnt toast contains carcinogens!
On the other hand, a vaped product is closest to the pure form of the herb as found in nature. When cannabis wax, e-juice, or buds are heated to about 370 degrees Fahrenheit, there is no burning involved. The heat vaporizes the THC inside the weed, and that is then inhaled by you.
Even the majority of the impurities in the weed crop remain locked within the pot, out of your system and out of your environment.
Is All Second-Hand Vapor the Same?
In every form of cannabis or nicotine indulgence, the quality of the smoke and vapor inhaled with every hit is directly related to the second-hand smoke and vapor subsequently exhaled.
In the previous section, we established that the vapor from weed is the healthiest of the two common ways to indulge. That is the first indication that second-hand smoke from vaping weed is also the healthiest.
Now, we turn to the other factors that influence the amount and quality of second-hand vapor.
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When you take a hit from a vaporizer, almost all of the THC content of the cannabis is transferred directly into your body. It is far higher than a puff from a joint, even if the pot is of the highest grade. More THC in less time means that you get high in fewer hits.
With shorter sessions, less excess second-hand vapor is released into the air.
THC Content in Vapor vs Smoke
As I explained earlier, the vapor from a cannabis is purer – it contains fewer contaminants and more THC. The immediate assumption might be that the second-hand vapor would have a correspondingly higher concentration of THC. That might seem like a problem… but your concerns are unfounded.
The magic lies in the fact that vapor is very different from smoke. When you burn cannabis or tobacco, it releases solid pieces of that herb and other chemicals into the air. That solid residue floating about everywhere is the reason second-hand smoke is dangerous.
By contrast, the vapor released from vaping is a gas, and it dissipates almost instantly. There are no solids for others to inhale in the minutes and hours that follow.
This almost magical ability for vaporizers to leave such little trace is one of their biggest draws. At the same time, it is also evidence of why second-hand vapor is not a pressing concern.
There is anecdotal ‘evidence’ that simply being in a room of people indulging in the herb can make you high.
Upon closer examination, this often turns out to be the psychological effect of associating the smell of weed with the sensation of being high. That sensation is heightened in an enclosed room, where the level of oxygen plummets and carbon dioxide spikes.
With vaping, these effects are mitigated because the vapor disperses almost immediately. There is no smoke to reinforce the association with typical weed sessions, so even the psychological effect is negated.
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Keeping your home safe when Vaping Weed
All the evidence points to the conclusion that vaping is the healthier option both for you as the vaper and for the people around you who might be exposed to second-hand smoke.
However, theory and practice are very different when it comes to our loved ones. This section deals with the possibility of cannabis vapor affecting the people and animals where you vape.
Babies and Toddlers
We cannot stress strongly enough that it is highly inadvisable to vape around babies and young children.
The developing brains of children under the age of 4 are susceptible to any amount of second-hand THC that they inhale. It can have a negative impact on their growth and development. Common symptoms include difficulties with attention, memory, motivation, and other cognitive functions as they grow.
Please do not compromise their health and safety.
Again, the default choice should always be to not vape or smoke anything around impressionable children. The effects of THC in the air is not as severe on older kids, but they are certainly not desirable.
One of the most important things to consider is that children at this age are very observant and have the ability to imitate you, even when you are not aware.
Try to refrain completely around them, just as you would with a baby. However, if you are using marijuana for medicinal purposes and/or pain management, have a frank conversation with them about its use and dangers.
There is very little research on the subject but this Harvard Blog post covers some more details about the dangers of THC Inhalation with passive smoking.
The ability to process THC is unique to every individual and varies widely from person to person. The difference between species is even greater. Household pets like cats and dogs have a far lesser capacity for THC because of their biochemistry and their smaller body weight.
That said, second-hand vapor should normally not have any effect on most pets. However, it does help to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of THC toxicity in animals:
- Dilated pupils
- Unsteady gait
If your dog or cat is displaying one or more of these symptoms, visit your vet as soon as possible. Dogs can also be particularly dangerous and uncontrollable when high.
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Tips for a Safer Cannabis Vaping Experience
People make some common mistakes when vaporizing cannabis and that can affect the quality of the experience. Here are some of them:
1. Using the wrong vaping materials
This may sound obvious but if you have a dry herb vaporizer, do not use oil or wax in it. Always check the instructions on your vaporizer before using it. Some can be used with all types of vaping materials, but these are a bit more expensive.
2. Heating at very low or very high temperatures
Vaping should be done between 350 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Very high temperatures can quickly burn the herb, which will leave you with a bad taste and might not offer you as much of the health benefits. Lower temperatures will negatively affect the quality of your experience by ultimately tasting weak and wasting your weed.
3. Packing the bowl tightly
Using too much herb will result in waste since not all the marijuana will be heated equally. On the flip side, packing the cannabis to loose will make it jump around as it cooks, and that will also result in a poor vaping session.
4. Not grinding the weed finely
For vaping, marijuana has to be dried and ground finely. Otherwise, it will not heat evenly and will not release enough THC. Think surface area, the more exposed, the better the efficiency.
5. Not cleaning your vaporizer
It is important to empty and wipe your vaporizer regularly and change the screen. Check the user manual for instructions or check out our article on how to clean your vaporizer.
6. Concerning temperature
You might need to experiment around the recommended temperature since different vaporizers work at different temperatures. We have more on that in our article about ‘How Long Does a Weed Vape High Last‘
To take care of your health and that of people around you, you should invest in a high-quality vaporizer like The Grasshopper. Portable vape pens are ideal for people who travel frequently. Also, they are suitable for people with children since they can be taken outside if necessary.
The Final Puff
I wanted to have two key takeaways from this article.
This first is that vaping is the healthiest way to indulge in cannabis for you and everyone around you. The second is that no amount of research and theory should lull you into a sense of complacency when the most important people in your lives are involved.
At Vapes in the Hood, our advice is that when it comes to your loved ones, never throw caution to the wind. Need a hit? Step outside, take a walk, sit somewhere quiet where nature is all around you and become one with the ‘greenery’ people around you.
If you have any thoughts on this article and would like to share them, I would love to hear them.
Don’t hesitate to use the comments section below as I do our best to Reply to everyone.
Most Importantly.. Stay Elevated