A small study found that compared with smoking cannabis, vaping the same dose of the drug increased the rate of paranoia, short-term anxiety, distraction, and memory loss among infrequent users. This means that between smoking and vaping marijuana, the latter produces much stronger effects.
The study, which involved infrequent cannabis users, was published in the Nov. 30, 2018 edition of JAMA Network Open.
How the study was done
The study was conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit in Baltimore. It involved 17 healthy cannabis users for the experiment who were not really daily smokers. More specifically, the participants had not smoked pot in 30 days and most of them smoked only once a year on average.
During an 8.5-hour session of smoking and vaping cannabis, the subjects were very high.
They were given cannabis dosages that had 0mg, 10mg, 0r 25mg of THC, the psychoactive or high-causing chemical component of cannabis. Each participant had to go through six sessions and try all of the different methods and doses.
However, since this was a blind study, the subjects were not aware which dose they were taking when. This made their answers to the questionnaire more honest and without bias.
The subjects were also given physical and cognitive tests. Their heart rate and blood pressure were taken 10 times during each session. During the tests, the subjects were given simple tasks to perform, like using a computer keyboard and mouse simultaneously, and replicating an onscreen shape.
Results of the study
Interestingly enough, regardless of THC levels, the researchers found that the concentration of THC in the bloodstream was always much higher when the cannabis was vaped rather than smoked. These results were consistent across the study.
The presence of THC in the system was also manifested as dry eyes, “cottonmouth,” and lower performance rates in the cognitive tests.
In their conclusion, the researchers wrote that, in contrast to previous controlled side-by-side experiments of smoked versus vaporized marijuana, their study demonstrated much larger differences in the effects of vaporized cannabis. The higher concentrations of THC in the blood from vaping the same doses of smoked cannabis were rather surprising, but they are definite in this particular series of tests.