Health

The lungs are amazing organs. But how does smoking cannabis affect them? You might want to be aware of your options for harm-reduced consumption.

As you breathe in, muscles pull air down the throat and into an ever-narrowing series of airways, ending up in the alveolar ducts, where the lungs exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide. Hundreds of millions of microscopic alveoli usher oxygen into the bloodstream and pull out CO2, which you then exhale. It’s this blood/air exchange that makes it possible for inhaled weed to get into the system. Weed smoke has 1,500 miles or so to travel, so when you’re thinking about weed’s effect on the lungs, think about all that tubing.

Smoking dried cannabis flowers will send the most caustic stuff into one's lungs, much of which is combusted plant material. Although it's less toxic overall—studies show that smoke from combusted cannabis flowers contains many of the same carcinogenic compounds as tobacco smoke—weed smoke even has more carcinogens than that of tobacco smoke.

Portable dry-flower vaporizer devices have made vaping cannabis flowers much easier for those who need a harm reduction method to smoke and prefer or have access only to dry flower. And the way that they dial into specific temperatures helps to unlock terpenes and cannabinoids without burning them up.

Vaping concentrates can be similarly controlled, and the process of making these concentrates takes combustible plant matter out of the equation completely. How it will affect one's lungs, however, is all in how the concentrate is made and what it contains.

Solvents like butane are a common way to extract plant cannabinoids and terpenes, but the residual solvent is not kind on lungs. Plus, additives get introduced into cannabis oils and hash oils when they’re too thick to vaporize properly. When it comes to oils, consistency is important, making it sometimes crucial for the manufacturer to add thinners like polyethylene glycol (PEG), propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin, or even coconut oil. CO2 oil or solvent-free oils are great and don’t require additives to make the oil viscous enough for vaping—not bad for lung health either.

New products are being developed to be kinder on lung biology, and consumers are urged to arm themselves with knowledge.

  Posted: Saturday, October 13th, 10:19pm 8 days ago
Profile PictureWritten By: Parker Wallace

Parker is a cannabis enthusiast to the core who shares a keen interest in listening to what others have to say and understanding what’s important to them. Those who know Parker know that his passion for health and wellness runs deep, and his love of Canada even deeper!

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