are dry herb vaporizers more potent than smoking?

Vaporizers work by heating herbs to a temperature at which the terpenes and cannabinoids in the plant are released in clouds that the user then inhales.

Many smokers have made the switch because vaping lessens the risk of combustion which can cause the release of toxins, tar and other cancer-causing compounds

Whilst the health benefits of vaping is clear, we're often asked if it is just as potent as smoking so it was quite interesting to come across some research where doctors investigated exactly this.


What does the science say?


At the end of 2018, a group of researchers at John Hopkins Medical carried out a series of experiments to discover whether or not vaping produced similar reactions in users as smoking.

For the study, they chose 17 volunteers who hadn’t used any cannabis in the last 30 days and tasked each participant with either smoking or vaping cannabis with either 0, 10 or 25 milligrams of THC once every seven days over a period of six weeks.

On average, they found that users who vaped cannabis had blood levels that contained double the amount of THC when compared to those who smoked.


Why is vaping more potent?

When you smoke cannabis, over 50% of your herbs are destroyed due to combustion before you even get a chance to inhale. However, when you use a vaporizer, none of the plant matter is destroyed due to the variable temperatures. Therefore, more of the terpenes and cannabinoids in the plant are available for you to enjoy.

This was also supported by the findings of a study by NORML. They found that found that smoking cannabis allows ingestion of just 25% of any available THC compared to vaping which allowed ingestion of 45%; making vaporizers almost twice as efficient.


So watch your dosage!


The study also required both smokers and vapers to carry out tasks to measure reaction time, memory and attention span with the aim of mimicking every day tasks such as driving a car. Generally, those who smoked or vaped THC had worse reaction times than the control group that didn’t.

To measure attention span, they required the volunteers to complete the Divided Attention Task.  This requires participants to track a square on a computer screen whilst simultaneously monitoring a series of changing numbers. Those who had smoked THC performed 350% worse than the control group whilst the vaporizing group performed on average 500% worse! 

As a result of the findings Tory Spindle, PhD concluded :

"Our participants had substantially higher impairment on the tasks when vaping versus smoking the same dose, which in the real world translates to more functional impairment when driving or performing everyday tasks."


As vaping enable a higher percentage of cannabinoids to be absorbed into your bloodstream it is worth experimenting with smaller doses of herb when switching from smoking to vaping for the first time.

If you're using cannabis medically, it is definitely recommended that you consult with your doctor first.