Whenever I critique a study that purports to show some danger related to marijuana, I always make it clear that the arguments against marijuana prohibition are not based on the assumption that marijuana is harmless. Nothing is harmless for everyone under all circumstances, and harmlessness cannot be a criterion for anything to be legal.
Nonetheless, here we go again.
This U.S. News & World Report headline was typical: “Vaping Pot Worse Than Vaping Tobacco for Teens’ Lungs: Study.”
The first problem is simply that the teens were not vaping “pot.” They were vaping some unknown liquids that supposedly contained THC and perhaps other cannabinoids.
Second, the sample for the study was based on national data, which would normally be a good thing, but in much of the country, marijuana was, and still is, illegal, so the vaping devices and their content may well have been contraband.
Third, the data was based on sampling from “between December 2016 and January 2018 – prior to the wave of lung injuries among young people that occurred in 2019. It was given the name EVALI, or e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury.”
That timeframe increases the uncertainty about whether the products were contraband, and the study acknowledges that their findings may include individuals who were using products contaminated with vitamin E.
Finally, it is very unlikely that these problems were caused by cannabinoids, or they would not be confined to “vaping.”
For millennia, most cannabis users have only had bud or hashish which they had to burn in a joint or a pipe of some sort. Not always the coolest source of smoke (vapor).
It should also be noted that “Vape Pen” is not a standardized device, especially in what may still have been contraband markets. The “Vape” that is produced may simply be too hot, so some of the problems may be independent of whatever is being “vaped.”
Vape pens are very handy, but bongs and tabletop vaporizers, like the Volcano, maybe much better, especially for heavy users.
Sadly, the pandemic may have finally ended the custom of sharing hits on joints, etc., with friends and/or friendly strangers. The end of the pandemic will coincide with a demand for social venues for cannabis users, so we will be looking at healthy ways of sharing. Some of the “coffeeshops” in Amsterdam have bongs designed for multiple users. They may be popular in the new “cannabis bistros.” (A term borrowed from Haarlem, the beautiful little city 15 minutes from Amsterdam.)
Well, so much for the “latest research.” We learned something anyway.
Richard Cowan is a former NORML National Director and author of A Buying Guide For CBD Gummies.