The ins and outs of smoking CBD
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- The difference between smoking CBD and THC
- Is smoking CBD safe?
- The benefits of smoking CBD
- How does smoking CBD feel?
- Can you smoke CBD oil?
- Does CBD kill your high?
Smoking cannabidiol (CBD) might not be the only way to consume this increasingly popular cannabis compound, but believe it or not, there’s reason to believe that it is one of the most effective ways to experience the benefits of this non-intoxicating cannabinoid.
The method of consumption plays a critical role in how long it will take to feel the effects of CBD. Inhalation is considered an effective method of delivery for CBD because of how quickly it’s absorbed in the body. When CBD is smoked or vaped, cannabinoids are sent directly to the lungs and are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and put into circulation throughout the body.
It reaches peak concentrations in plasma within 3 minutes of consumption.
A 2007 study states that CBD can be detected up to 72 hours after smoking. In another study, volunteers were given soft-gelatin capsules containing cannabis extract containing 2.5 milligrams of THC and 1.35 milligrams of CBD. The research team found that CBD was only detectable in the blood for up to 6 hours after ingestion.
There is mounting research on CBD’s potential medical benefits, including scientific evidence for its effectiveness in the treatment of epilepsy by reducing seizures. CBD is also commonly used to alleviate depression and anxiety, as well as for those suffering from insomnia.
While some consumers and patients prefer to take their CBD through oral administration or topical application, others have found inhalation to be the most effective consumption method.
Many consumers typically prefer consuming or smoking CBD through a pipe, joint, or a vape pen. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Many consumers typically prefer consuming or smoking CBD through a pipe, joint, or a vape pen. Of course, CBD can also be consumed by swallowing in pill form or administering through a lotion or tincture, but vaping or smoking CBD provides unique benefits that other forms of consumption generally lack.
The difference between smoking CBD and THC
To be high, or not to be high? That is a question that may appeal as the easiest illustrate the difference between smoking high-CBD flower and THC-heavy flower.
But it’s a bit more complex than that.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD are the most prevalent among the 113 identified cannabinoids in cannabis plants. In fact, CBD is the second-most-abundant cannabinoid found in the plant. CBD is often touted as “non-psychoactive,” however this statement is somewhat misleading — and a more accurate way to describe CBD is as a non-intoxicating substance. Any substance that has a direct effect on the function of the brain, which CBD does to a certain extent, is considered to be psychoactive.
Both THC and CBD interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Both THC and CBD interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The endocannabinoid system is a group of cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body. These receptors are located in the central nervous system, the peripheral nervous system, and the immune system.
THC binds with the CB1 receptors in the brain to produce a high, while CBD has shown to have the opposite interaction with CB1 receptors, acting as an antagonist. Therein lies the main difference between the two cannabinoids.
In other words, CBD, which can be extracted from either the marijuana or hemp plant, is a non-intoxicating compound, meaning it does not produce a high when used by itself or in tandem with other non-intoxicating compounds.
Is smoking CBD safe?
While more research into the effectiveness of CBD consumption methods is needed, most evidence suggests that vaping or smoking CBD itself will not cause intoxicating side effects. The primary concern for users is getting unadulterated CBD and, for those who prefer smoking, the potential long term effects on the lungs.
It’s important to note that the act of smoking cannabis, even high-CBD strains, could potentially lead to respiratory issues. A 2007 study published in the Harm Reduction Journal examined self-reported respiratory symptoms in participants who used cigarettes and cannabis, and discovered that using a vaporizer could decrease respiratory symptoms in regular cannabis users who smoke.
Smoking has been shown to increase bioavailability, which is the proportion of a drug when it enters the body’s circulatory system. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
An often-cited study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, published in 2017, found a disturbingly wide range of CBD concentrations when testing products purchased online. Of the products tested in the study, 26% contained less CBD than labeled, which could negate any potential positive clinical response, according to the study.
Some issues have to public attention with CBD vapes, but those problems may stem over poor regulation of the vaping market.
A patient in Illinois on Aug. 23, 2019, became the first known to die of a mysterious lung illness linked to vaping. The death occurred as doctors and hospitals nationwide are reporting an increasing number of vaping-related respiratory illnesses over summer, with 193 reported in 22 states, the New York Times reported.
The benefits of smoking CBD
So, what does smoking CBD do? Are there benefits to this method in comparison to oral ingestion or topical application, for example?
For starters, smoking has been shown to increase bioavailability, which is the proportion of a drug when it enters the body’s circulatory system. When medications are administered in ways other than intravenously, the bioavailability rate naturally drops. This is due to incomplete absorption and what’s known as first-pass metabolism — when the concentration of a drug is reduced before it reaches the circulatory system.
Smoking has been shown to increase absorption. One study, Human Cannabinoid Pharmacokinetics published in 2017, states that “smoking provides a rapid and efficient method of drug delivery,” although the bioavailability can vary broadly based on how the CBD is smoked (duration, spacing of puffs, hold time, and inhalation volume).
When smoking or vaping CBD, the cannabinoids are sent directly to the lungs before being rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and put into circulation throughout the body. It reaches peak concentrations in plasma within 3 minutes after consumption, meaning the effects can be felt almost directly after use.
When smoking or vaping CBD, the cannabinoids are sent directly to the lungs before being rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and put into circulation throughout the body. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
With ingestion, CBD is first sent through the digestive tract and metabolized in the liver, where it is broken down before finally being sent into the bloodstream. This process, known as the “first-pass effect,” takes place when cytochrome P450 (CYP450) oxidases enzymes in the liver, reducing CBD concentration and sending the remainder to the bloodstream and eventually throughout the body. On the other hand, the permeability of CBD is tenfold higher than THC when topically applied to the skin, peaking after 90 minutes.
Some evidence from clinical trials suggests that one among the numerous benefits of CBD is an aid to those who wish to quit smoking cigarettes. A 2013 study by researchers at the University College of London showed CBD significantly reduced the number of cigarettes smoked by study participants by roughly 40%.
How does smoking CBD feel?
The effects of smoking CBD will vary depending on the product and the individual who is consuming the CBD. For example, dabbing a pure CBD isolate will likely cause different effects than hitting a high-CBD vape pen that also contains some THC.
While CBD doesn’t get you high or intoxicated, it has been known to provide a sense of calm, relaxation, and well-being. CBD can make some people feel sleepy, relaxed, generally at easy, happy, or even energetic. While there are no serious side effects reported with CBD, overconsumption can cause nausea, fatigue, and irritability.
In addition to a feeling of relaxation, smoking CBD has been noted to provide quick relief of swelling and pain. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
While THC binds with the CB1 receptors in the brain to produce a high, CBD affects multiple sets of receptors throughout the body by exerting indirect influence on these receptors, thereby increasing the levels of endocannabinoids produced naturally by the body. In addition to a feeling of relaxation, smoking CBD has been noted to provide quick relief of swelling and pain.
Can you smoke CBD oil?
CBD can be infused into a variety of products, including vape juice, edibles, capsules, and CBD oil tinctures. CBD tinctures are strictly for ingestion, while CBD oils are made for inhalation.
CBD vape juice, sometimes referred to as CBD vape oil, may vary in concentration depending on state-specific laws. It is legal in 30 states. Another 17 states have CBD-specific laws that enable some level of use or consumption.
CBD can be infused into a variety of products, including vape juice, edibles, capsules, and CBD oil tinctures. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not stepped in to regulate CBD products, but the FDA approved the prescription use of Epidiolex in 2018, a purified form of CBD oil for treating epilepsy.
Rick Simpson Oil, named after its Canadian developer, who claims he cured his own skin cancer with a custom blend of cannabis oil, is a popular form of CBD oil that is commonly smoked.
CBD oil derived from industrial hemp plants only contain CBD, while marijuana-derived products, such as Rick Simpson Oil, have a high concentration of THC and the full range of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
Does CBD kill your high?
The answer isn’t clear, but CBD has demonstrated the ability to moderate a high produced from THC by preventing the body from breaking it down. Some people say they use CBD when they get too high to reduce the effects. Evidence suggests CBD actually interferes with the activity of the CB1 receptor, especially in the presence of THC.
So, when THC and CBD work together to affect CB1 receptor activity, users tend to feel a more mellow high and are said to have a reduced chance of experiencing paranoia compared with the effects felt when CBD is absent in a product. This synergistic relationship is often referred to as the “entourage effect,” which explains why certain combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes seem to enhance the benefits of cannabis.
The ins and outs of smoking CBD Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents The difference between smoking CBD and THC Is smoking CBD safe? The
Is There a Safer Way to Smoke Cannabis? How the Methods Stack Up
If you’re looking for the healthiest way to smoke cannabis, keep in mind that there’s no totally safe way to do so — even with the purest, most pesticide-free bud. Cannabis smoke contains most of the same toxins and carcinogens that make tobacco smoke harmful to your health.
There are, however, methods that may be slightly less harmful than others. Here’s a look at how different methods compare, plus some smoke-free alternatives to consider.
The dangers of smoke inhalation are well known, so it’s not surprising that a lot of folks assume vaping is the healthier alternative to smoking. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
There’s mounting evidence that vaping can have serious health effects. Much of the concern comes from inhaling vitamin E acetate, a chemical additive found in many vaping products containing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.
However, this risk seems to apply only to vaping concentrates, not flower. A 2006 study suggests that vaping actual cannabis, not concentrate, is less harmful to your respiratory system than smoking. Still, research on vaping cannabis is pretty limited.
Lung health aside, there’s also a matter of potency. People who vape cannabis report experiencing stronger effects — regardless of the amount of THC in the product — than they do when smoking. This means a higher chance of overdoing it, or greening out, when vaping.
Maybe a teeny, tiny bit, but nowhere near enough to make a difference.
Bongs offer a smoother toke because you don’t get the dry heat from smoking cannabis rolled in paper. Though it feels less harsh when you inhale, your lungs don’t know the difference.
Well, both still involve inhaling smoke, so there’s that. But if you had to choose the lesser of two evils, joints are probably the better option. This is because blunts are made with hollowed-out cigars, and cigars and their wrappers are highly toxic.
Even after removing all the tobacco from a cigar, cancer-causing toxins, such as nitrosamines, can remain. Plus, cigar wrappers are more porous than rolling papers, so the burning is less complete. This results in smoke with high concentrations of toxins.
Then there’s the matter of size. Blunts are a lot bigger than joints, and they hold way more pot. Smoking an entire blunt is like smoking roughly six joints.
Dabbing is supposed to give you a “cleaner” high, but what does that actually mean? Not much.
Budder — another name for dabs or marijuana concentrate — delivers a lot more THC than other weed products, often as much as 80 percent more.
Dabbing is still pretty new, so experts still don’t know the full impact.
There’s evidence that exposure to high THC may lead to long-term mental health effects, like psychosis. The risk of misuse and addiction is also higher when using high-THC products, especially for young people.
Plus, unless you have high-tech lab equipment and are trained in extraction, your dabs may be far from pure. Research shows that dabs can contain contaminants and residual solvents that can to neurotoxicity and cardiotoxicity.
Dabbing also has respiratory effects, even though you’re not technically “smoking.” There have been cases of people developing lung damage from dabbing.
The bad news? There’s no safe way to smoke cannabis. The good news? There are plenty of other ways to consume it.
Here are your main options:
- Edibles. Unlike smoking and vaping, ingesting cannabis won’t harm your lung health. The downside for some is that edibles take longer to kick in because they need to clear your digestive system before getting into your bloodstream. The upside is that the effects also hang around longer. You also have an endless variety to choose from, with everything from gummies to baked goods to cannabutter.
- Sublinguals. These are usually lumped together with edibles, but they’re not quite the same. Unlike edibles, you don’t actually swallow sublingual forms of cannabis, which include things like tinctures, films, and dissolvable tablets. Sublingual cannabis is placed under the tongue for absorption, and is absorbed through your mouth’s mucus membranes, so the effects are felt faster.
- Tinctures. Tinctures are made of alcohol-based cannabis extracts that come in bottles with droppers. You can add tinctures to drinks, but you can also get the effects faster by placing a few drops — depending on your desired dose — under your tongue.
- Topicals. Cannabis topicals are for people looking for the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without the cerebral effects. Creams, balms, and patches can be applied to the skin to relieve inflammation and pain. There’s also cannabis lubricant made for, well, sexy time.
- Suppositories. The idea of shoving cannabis up your butt (or vagina, depending on the product) may make you clench, but it’s definitely a thing. Most of the suppositories on the market are CBD-infused and used for therapeutic reasons, like pain or nausea relief, but some brands have upped their THC content for added effects.
If you’d still rather smoke your weed despite the risks, consider these harm-reduction tips to help make it a little safer:
- Don’t hold the inhale. Inhaling deeply and holding it in exposes your lungs to more tar per breath. Don’t be greedy; exhaling faster is better for you.
- Use rolling papers approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Rolling papers may seem like NBD, but some contain chemicals and flavorings that can be toxic.
- Stick to glass bongs and pipes. Plastic bongs can contain chemicals like BPA and phthalates, which have been linked to serious health effects, including cancer.
- Keep your stuff clean. Keep your bongs and pipes clean, and don’t roll your weed on dirty surfaces.
- Don’t share mouthpieces or pass joints. Sharing your stash is fine, but not your pipes, bongs, or joints. When you share these, you’re basically swapping spit with that person and putting yourself at risk for infections.
No matter how you dice it, there’s really no safe way to smoke cannabis, whether you prefer to roll one up or are partial to bongs. As cannabis becomes more popular, so do products that allow you to indulge without the smoke.
That said, if you’re partial to puffing and passing, a vaporizer that allows you to use flower, not concentrates, may be a less harmful option.
Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddleboard.
You can smoke cannabis in a variety of ways, but is one safer or healthier than others?