Whatever the motivation for using marijuana, there are several ways to consume the herb. From the creative homemade pipes, to the famous “brigonhas” (or brigadonhas, brigadeiro with marijuana), the use of cannabis is diverse, and varies according to geographic location, culture and purpose. What, then, would be the best way to consume cannabis? Which form of consumption is the most effective and least harmful to health? Next, we will explore the most common forms of consumption, their benefits and disadvantages.
Inhalation of marijuana is the most common method of consumption. This is due to the fact that inhaled THC takes effect in seconds, giving the user more control over the dosage. He can go on feeling how much he is being affected by marijuana and control the amount he needs to achieve the desired effect.
The based, is the most represented form of consumption in the media. The preparation of the joint is a common ritual among marijuana users, becoming a social activity in the smoking circles.
The paper, also known as “silk”, is usually produced with vegetable fibers and has a series of chemical additives to control the burning. For this reason, the joint increases the amount of toxins inhaled in the smoke, with the burning of the paper.
In addition, burning marijuana, like tobacco cigarettes, produces tar. Tar is associated with several lung health problems, such as lung cancer and pulmonary emphysema.
In the case of smoked cannabis, however, no association was found with the occurrence of lung cancer, reduced lung function or other serious respiratory problems. However, frequent marijuana smoking can cause chronic cough and increase phlegm production. Post-mortem studies (after death) have observed changes in the lung hair cells, reducing their ability to filter impurities (Earleywine, 2010).
These lung problems caused by cannabis smoking appear to disappear after smoking is stopped, indicating that the damage is possibly reversible.
For frequent users, therefore, consumption through the joint is not the most recommended, but there is little evidence that it is harmful for sporadic users (in the case of lung health). For users who already have sensitive lungs due to illness, the joint is also not the best form of consumption.
Inhaled cannabis should also not be used in conjunction with tobacco. Cigarette smokers should avoid smoking cannabis or stop smoking. Marijuana smoke increases the damage caused by cigarette smoke, and can anticipate the occurrence of cancer and other serious lung damage (Earleywine, 2010).
Pipes are an option for users who want to remove toxins from silk. They also waste less cannabis than the joint, as they do not leave the marijuana burning while it is not being smoked (the smoke that comes out of the lit joint, even when it is standing) and usually have a small space where only the amount of marijuana needed to one or two puffs at a time, with more smoke than a cigarette.
Pipes vary in shape, material and quality, affecting even the taste of marijuana. The preference for the type of pipe, therefore, varies according to the user’s personal taste.
Pipe made with corn on the cob.
They can be small and portable, being almost as convenient as the cradle to carry with you. However, it is difficult to remove all remnants of marijuana after use. Carrying a pipe in your pocket can cause problems with the police (although the amount is small, hardly leading to a prison, there are many reports of people who were abused by police when identified as users) and airport security. Never carry a used pipe (even after cleaning) on an international trip, even in checked baggage. If caught, any trace of marijuana could result in deportation.
Despite the removal of the paper, smoking marijuana through the pipe still causes the burning of marijuana and therefore can cause lung damage.
Hookahs and Bongs
These utensils have a compartment that can be filled with water. The smoke is cooled in the water and leaves a part of the tar in the way. The final product is therefore “cleaner” than the smoke that comes directly from burning marijuana. A study funded by NORML and MAPS, however, concluded that the use of bongs and water pipes is actually counterproductive. Despite reducing toxins, water also reduces the amount of THC in the smoke, making users have to smoke more to get the same effect. The user ends up consuming 30% more tar than with a joint (Gieringer, 2008).
Similarly, the use of filters in joints has the same disadvantage. One study determined that the filter also filters more THC than tar, resulting in the consumption of 30% more toxins than in the unfiltered joint (Gieringer, 2008).
Still, many users like to use bong due to the large amount of smoke inhaled at once, resulting in a more powerful and more immediate effect.