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How does vaporized marijuana affect infrequent users?

A recent study assessed the effects of different modes of cannabis intake among people who do not smoke marijuana regularly.

Recently, Canada became one of the largest countries to legalize marijuana, only second to Uruguay. The liberal policies regarding cannabis consumption have encouraged researchers to further examine its effects on the human body and its impact on public health.

Common methods of marijuana administration include joints, bongs, or pipes. While these methods are traditionally preferred, vaporization has become a new and highly popular method of consumption over time. Vaporizers release a vapour from cannabis extracts or dried cannabis. The rise in vaporization is largely attributed to its lower exposure to toxicants in comparison to other methods. An American study published by JAMA compared the effects of two methods of marijuana consumption: smoking and vaporization.

The crossover study recruited 17 individuals who were classified as irregular marijuana users. A physical examination was conducted to ensure a healthy medical history of all participants. The researchers also performed tests to confirm that no other drug influences were found in any of the participants a month prior to the experiment. The selected individuals participated in six sessions lasting 8.5 hours each with one of the two administration methods. The sessions were separated with one-week breaks. The administered cannabis doses varied in THC amounts of 0 mg, 10 mg, 25 mg. The effects of the interventions were determined through cognitive performance and blood THC concentration.

Cannabis doses with 10 mg of THC revealed slight impairment in cognitive function while cannabis doses with 25 mg of THC amplified these adverse effects. In comparison to smoking marijuana, the vaporization method resulted in stronger pharmacological effects such as high peaks in blood THC concentration. The study concluded that the drug effects were stronger when vaporized however it was the THC concentration that largely affected cognitive impairment, heart rate, and psychomotor function.

Due to the increasing ease of access to cannabis and the legalization of its consumption, studies assessing the effects of marijuana are highly useful for medical experts and healthcare professionals. Although this study revealed that larger THC doses have stronger impacts on drug effects in the body, further research with larger sample sizes and higher THC doses may be able to provide improved accuracy. Additional studies that address the correlation between blood THC concentration and the subject drug effects would offer a better understanding of the effects of cannabis on the body.

Written by Shrishti Ahuja, HBSc

References:

  1. Spindle, T. R., Cone, E. J., Schlienz, N. J., Mitchell, J. M., Bigelow, G. E., Flegel, R., . . . Vandrey, R. (2018). Acute Effects of Smoked and Vaporized Cannabis in Healthy Adults Who Infrequently Use Cannabis. JAMA Network Open, 1(7). doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.4841
  2. EurekAlert. (n.d.). What are effects of smoked, vaporized marijuana in infrequent adult users? Retrieved January 01, 2018, from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-11/jn-wae112718.php
Shrishti Ahuja BSc
Shrishti Ahuja BSc
Shrishti is currently working towards her HBSc degree in Medical Science and English Literature from Western University. She enjoys taking on challenging opportunities that allow her to communicate complex scientific concepts to a variety of audiences. Along with the Medical News Bulletin, she is actively involved in the orientation program at her university, is part of a dance team, and enjoys travelling.
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