Inhaling vaporized pot will get you way higher than smoking the same amount of it, according to new research from the Johns Hopkins Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit.
To see how smoking marijuana compared to vaporizing it, researchers recruited 17 “healthy” men and women (a relatively small sample size) to either vape or smoke marijuana in the name of science, all of whom had smoked marijuana before, but not in the month before the study took place. Over six 8.5-hour-long sessions, participants either smoked or vaped marijuana containing 0, 10, or 25 milligrams of THC, but weren’t aware of how much they were using each time.
Participants were then kept in the dark and asked to fill out a number of questions about their mood, how they felt, and any physiological symptoms. They were also subjected to a number of cognitive tests, such as responding to stimuli on a computer or solving simple equations, and physical tests that reported heart rate and blood pressure.
Inhaling 25 mg of THC will get you absolutely loaded, no matter how you take it in – two participants vomited and another hallucinated (which sounds like any stoner’s nightmare). Over the course of the study, both smokers and inhalers got all the symptoms any 16-year-old schoolyard kid may be all too familiar with – increased heart rate, paranoia, cotton mouth, bloodshot eyes, and paranoia – peaking within the first hour after smoking and sometimes not returning to normal for more than eight hours.
But overall, vaping proved much more potent at every dosage, with researchers reporting significantly higher concentrations of THC in participants’ blood, more mistakes in cognitive tests, and self-reports of feeling much higher.
With the legalization of marijuana continuing to spread across the world, more and more people are turning to the sticky green plant for both recreational and medicinal purposes. At present, 30 US states and Washington DC approve the use of medicinal cannabis, and nonmedical use is permitted in nine. Numerous countries in the EU and elsewhere have also approved marijuana for medicinal and recreational use, sparking a massive retail industry and a changing perception of reefer madness.
“Significant, sometimes adverse, drug effects can occur at relatively low THC doses in infrequent cannabis users, and accordingly these data should be considered with regard to regulation of retail cannabis products and education for individuals initiating cannabis use,” wrote the authors in the study published in JAMA Network Open.
As vaporizing becomes an increasingly popular way to consume weed and policy changes make cannabis more readily available, the authors say understanding the method for consuming marijuana and how it can impact a person is an important step in ensuring your high is just pleasant.