Vaping Cannabis (Marijuana): Parallel Concerns to E-cigs?

Published: August 12, 2015

Abstract: The proliferation of vaporization (‘vaping’) as a method for administering cannabis raises many of the same public health issues being debated and investigated in relation to e-cigarettes (e-cigs). Good epidemiological data on the prevalence of vaping cannabis are not yet available, but with current trends towards societal approval of medicinal and recreational use of cannabis, the pros and cons of vaping cannabis warrant study. As with e-cigs, vaping cannabis portends putative health benefits by reducing harm from ingesting toxic smoke. Indeed, vaping is perceived and being sold as a safer way to use cannabis, despite the lack of data on the health effects of chronic vaping. Other perceived benefits include better taste, more efficient and intense effects and greater discretion which allows for use in more places.

Unfortunately, these aspects of vaping could prompt an increased likelihood of trying cannabis, earlier age of onset, more positive initial experiences, and more frequent use, thereby increasing the probability of problematic use or addiction. Sales and marketing of vaping devices with no regulatory guidelines, especially related to advertising or product development targeting youth, parallels concerns under debate related to e-cigs and youth. Thus, the quandary of whether or not to promote vaping as a safer method of cannabis administration for those wishing to use cannabis, and how to regulate vaping and vaping devices, necessitates substantial investigation and discussion. Addressing these issues in concert with efforts directed towards e-cigs may save time and energy and result in a more comprehensive and effective public health policy on vaping.