Are MMJ Patients Who Smoke Instead of Vape Doing More Harm Than Good?

It will come as a surprise to precisely no one that Westword has been absolutely inundated with marijuana-related product pitches in the days leading up to what's likely to be the largest 4/20 celebration in Colorado history.

But the one from the folks at California-based Hemp Hookahzz definitely grabbed our attention.

The company specializes in items used for vaping, as well as rich infused hemp oil that contains Cannabidiol, or CBD, the ingredient in cannabis that is prized for its medicinal effects.

But instead of simply hyping their wares, Hemp Hookahzz president Katarina Maloney and vice president Janell Thompson take a more aggressive tack.

They encourage patients to make 4/20 the day to stop smoking pot in favor of hemp CBD — especially since doing the former may be harming them instead of helping as much as they thought.

Then again, why wait until Monday when you can make the transition today?

"It's always a good time to switch," Maloney says. "CBDs are the most therapeutic and respected extract. They hold the most promise for serious conditions."

"There are many patients out there who are seeing medical benefits, but they don't necessarily do well of function with high THC levels," adds Thompson in reference to the psychoactive element in marijuana. "If I were to smoke THC, there's no way I'd be able to come to work and function at the level I need to. And marijuana smoke contains similar chemicals and irritants and carcinogens that tobacco smoke, does."

Of course, chronic tobacco smokers often smoke a packs of cigarettes on a daily basis — more plant material than even heavy cannabis users tend to consume. But that doesn't mean pot users are necessarily safe from lung-cancer concerns and the like, Thompson stresses.

"A lot of marijuana smokers habitually hold in a deep inhalation," she points out. "That results in an even higher exposure to the tar and smoke carcinogens."

"Smoking a joint deposits more tar in your lungs than regular tobacco," Maloney concurs. "And when you smoke a joint or hit a bong, 88 percent of the combusted smoke gases contain non-cannabinoid elements. They do not get you high or provide any medical benefit, and they also present potential health risks. Exposure to hot smoke is very unnatural and very hard on your lungs."

In contract, Maloney says, "if you're vaping, 95 percent of the gases in the vapor are full of cannabinoids. When you're vaping cannabis, they're mixed with the psychoactive elements of THC, and when you're vaping CBDs, you're getting the non-psychoactive elements. But either way, you're getting all the good components without the bad stuff. Vaping is 95-percent carcinogen-free, and there are other benefits as well."

Such as?

"No second-hand smoke," Maloney responds, "or starting a fire, or stained teeth. And you don't need an ash tray. It's much healthier for the environment, because you're inhaling water vapor instead of smoke."

How will we know if these recommendations catch on? Maybe if there are more people at Civic Center Park on 4/20 but a smaller smoke cloud.

For more about Hemp Hookahzz, click here.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts