Vaporisation is an effective method to deliver THC according to a clinical study, writes CHRIS FOWLIE.
The most common objection to medical marijuana is that smoking is bad for you. Never mind that marijuana is not tobacco, does not contain nicotine, and has anti-cancer and anti-tumour properties. Or that terminal or seriously ill patients are more concerned with quality of their remaining life than whether they could get lung problems in several decades – if they are still alive. Prohibitionists ignore these facts when they deny patients and doctors access to medical marijuana.
Now, two new studies have blown that last objection away, and should pave the way towards allowing medicinal use.
In a study conducted at the University of California by Dr. Donald Abrams and his colleagues, 18 healthy subjects received three different strains of cannabis (with a THC content of 1.7, 3.4 or 6.8 per cent) by vaporization (The Volcano, made by Storz & Bickel) as well as by smoking a cannabis cigarette.
Unlike smoking, a vaporiser does not burn the plant material, but heats it just to the point at which the THC and the other cannabinoids turn to steam.
Peak plasma concentrations and bioavailability of THC were similar under the two conditions, with the vaporiser producing a slightly higher level. The levels of carbon monoxide were greatly reduced with vaporization, with “little if any” detected. Researchers concluded “vaporisation of cannabis is a safe and effective mode of delivery of THC.”
In a second study, researchers at the State University of New York interviewed nearly 7000 cannabis users and found vaporiser users were 60 percent less likely than smokers to report respiratory symptoms such as cough, chest tightness or phlegm. The effect of vaporizer use was more pronounced the larger the amount of marijuana used.
- Abrams et al. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2007 Apr 11
- Earleywine et al. Harm Reduct J 2007;4:11
(NORML News Winter 2007)