Research recently published in the International Journal of Drug Policy has found that residents of states with medical marijuana laws are more likely to vaporize or consume edibles, indicating a natural shift towards healthier alternatives to smoking as states legalize cannabis for medical and adult uses.
The researchers from the Geisel School of Medicine and the C. Everett Koop Institute in Lebanon, New Hampshire used data collected through surveys done on Facebook and Qualtrics, an online survey platform, to assess peoples’ preferred methods of cannabis consumption, in addition to collecting their location and the density of dispensaries in their area. They found that cannabis consumers were significantly more likely to have ever vaped or eaten edible cannabis if they lived in a state with medical marijuana laws. Additionally, they found increased correlations with vaping and edibles the longer medical marijuana laws had been in effect, and with higher density of dispensaries in the state.
Most of the medical community familiar with cannabis recognizes that vaporizing causes little respiratory harm compared to smoking cannabis, because it avoids the formation of combustion byproducts like polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons that are present in car exhaust, campfire smoke and cigarette smoke. Ingesting edible cannabis does not affect the lungs, but consumers must take greater precaution when dosing edibles due to the delayed, yet more powerful psychoactive effects of THC’s metabolite generated in the digestive track.
Previous research from the same group, and conducted in a similar manner, found that people who preferred vaporizing cannabis over smoking were more likely to be young, male and relatively affluent, but altogether only a small fraction of those interviewed reported frequent vaping. Those that preferred vaping reported it to be healthier and more tasteful, but the research did not investigate if the survey-takers lived in states with medical marijuana laws.
Despite the fact that online retailers offer vaporizers on demand to any address in the nation, potentially even the world, why does vaping become more popular in states with medical cannabis laws? The reason likely lies in the increased awareness provided by dispensaries and health care providers of healthier alternatives to smoking. Together with cannabis festivals, cannabis-friendly parties, and increased media attention towards cannabis, the cannabis community has plenty of methods for communicating the latest, greatest and healthiest methods of cannabis consumption to the public.
On the other hand, the reasons behind increased consumption of edibles in states with medical cannabis laws are more straightforward. Creating edible cannabis requires ample cannabis, a recipe, a method and the initiative to do it all in one day without messing it up. Given the convenience of simply purchasing a psychoactive sucker or cookie, increased consumption of edibles in states with medical cannabis laws seems pretty logical.
Intelligent and progressive drug policy think tanks have recognized that eradication of a controlled substance is not only impossible, but also utterly futile. Therefore, countries with the most advanced drug policies in the world focus on harm-reduction, because they know so-called “drug wars” are a waste of time and tax dollars. This recent research shows that cannaficionados residing in states with medical marijuana laws prefer healthier, less damaging methods of consumption. The decision should be clear: let the people consume what they want in the safest way possible and legalize cannabis for adult use nationwide.
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