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Cannabis smoking refers to the process of inhaling the vapors released by the combustion of the flowers and subtending leafs and stems of the pistillate Cannabis plants, known as marijuana. Alternatively, the cannabis plant flowers when sifted releasing trichomes, which contain high amounts of THC and other cannabinoids, which are then pressed and baked, known as hashish. Cannabis is consumed recreationally to produce a feeling of relaxation or euphoria or for medical reasons (such as to relieve stress or suppress nausea).

Smoking releases the main psychoactive chemical in cannabis, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is absorbed into the bloodstream via the lungs. It then mostly targets the brain, where it binds to cannabinoid receptors. The immune system also contains cannabinoid receptors and may negatively impact its function. The cannabinoid receptors receive the THC and other cannabinoids, setting off a chain reaction, leading to the feeling of a mental "high," which varies strongly by person. Studies have also found that the heating of cannabis (which can be achieved without combustion by means of a vaporizer) results in the production of additional THC from the decarboxylation of the non-psychoactive Δ9-tetrahydrocanabinoid acid (THCa).

While cannabis can be consumed orally, the bioavailability characteristics and effects of this method are different from smoking. The effect takes longer to begin, is typically longer-lasting, and can sometimes result in a more powerful psychoactive effect.

Cannabis can be smoked in a variety of pipe-like implements, including bowls, bongs, chillums and one-hitter, or by rolling it into a cigarette-like "joint" or cigar-like "blunt".

Smoking implements

Pipes



Smoking pipes, sometimes called pieces or bowls, can be made of blown glass, wood, ceramic, broscillate, stone, or metal. Blown-glass pipes and bongs are often intricately and colorfully designed, and can contain materials that change color or become more vivid with repeated use. A screen is added to prevent drawing small particles ("shooters") down to clog the channel.

Bong

A hand-blown glass bong
A bong is a pipe with a small water-chamber known as a "bubbler"[265640] through which the cannabis smoke passes prior to inhalation. Users fill the bong with water in order to cool the smoke and filter out particulate matter, sometimes also adding ice or using substances such as brandy in place of water. Ash Catchers, Diffusors, Percolators, and Carbon Filters are being seen more and more in modern glass bongs. [265641]Bongs may have a hole which is covered with a finger during inhalation and then uncovered to clear the pipe of smoke; slang names for this include: carb (short for carburetor), rush-hole, choke, "clear hole" or just "clear", shotgun, and shotty.

Vaporizer

Since the delivery of THC occurs through heating rather than combustion, it is possible to "smoke" small servings of sifted cannabis without ever igniting the herb, through the use of a "vaporizer." This maximizes consumption of active cannabinoids while minimizing the harmful and irritating effects of actual smoke.[265642]

At least one study has shown that using a vaporizer results in reduced tar and carbon monoxide inhalation compared to smoking the same amount of cannabis.

E-cigarette

The E or electronic cigarette was developed in Chinamarker. It contains a rechargeable battery and a heating element which, when a user draws on the mouthpiece end, vaporizes (in most present brands) flavored liquid nicotine from an insertable cartridge. Loading a liquid THC formula into the cartridge instead of current nicotine-laced recipes provides the cannabis user with benefits similar to a vaporizer at low initial cost.

"Spots"

An alternative vaporization method, known variously as spots, spotting, dots, hot knives, or blades, is to compress a small amount of cannabis between two heated metal blades and inhale the resulting vapors.

Shotgun

A shotgun (also known as a shotty, brainer, charge, powerhit, super, or blowback) refers to one user taking a "hit" of a blunt or joint (see below), turning it around so the lit end is inside the mouth, and blowing the hit out through the blunt/joint into the mouth of another user, who sucks it in. It is also common to take a hit and blow it directly into the other person's mouth. A "Stinger" has the same concept except smoke is inhaled through the nasal passage.

Joint

A joint or sometimes called a spliff or a doobie is created by rolling up cannabis, either manually or with a rolling machine, into paper, forming a cigarette-like product.

Blunt

A Blunt, sometimes known as a "Gar" or "rillo", is ground cannabis rolled with a cigar wrapper (leaf). Blunts are usually rolled using low quality cigars or blunt wraps.

Blunts are typically known as the more flashy or glamorous way of smoking, reflected by their not-so-rare alternative spelling, bluntz. "Blunt Ridez" are also popular activities amongst people aged 15-25, which are carried out by lighting a blunt in a car, preferably a low-rider, with the top down or the sun roof open, while blasting gangsta rap music.

Mixing with other herbs

Often cannabis is combined with tobacco (also known as "Spinning", "Batching", "Webacco", and "Amsterdam Style") or alternative smokable herbs, such as hops flowers, peppermint leaf, etc., in a joint or spliff.

Mixing with tobacco is more common in Europe and the Middle East than in the Americas. For some users this practice is said to have an instant and more intense effect than smoking cannabis by itself, but at least one source has suggested that it can lead to nicotine dependence

Health effects

Reports indicate decreased gas exchange capacity and the existence of particle residue in the lungs of marijuana smokers several times greater than for tobacco smokers.

Lung cancer

A major 2006 study compared the effects of tobacco and Cannabis smoke on the lungs. The outcome of the study showed that even very heavy cannabis smokers "do not appear to be at increased risk of developing lung cancer," while the same study showed a twenty-fold increase in lung cancer risk for tobacco smokers who smoked two or more packs of tobacco cigarettes a day. It is known that Cannabis smoke, like all smoke, contains carcinogens and thus has a probability of triggering lung cancer. THC, unlike nicotine, is thought to "encourage aging cells to die earlier and therefore be less likely to undergo cancerous transformation." Cannabidiol (CBD), an isomer of THC and another major cannabinoid that also grows on cannabis, has been reported elsewhere to have anti-tumor properties as well. However, in that report, some cellular abnormalities were documented showing an increase in lung cancer risk in very heavy users.

References

  1. http://lupus.webmd.com/news/20030415/cannabis-may-suppress-immune-system
  2. http://www.erowid.org/plants/cannabis/cannabis_effects.shtml
  3. "Cannabis use in a drug and alcohol clinic population", McBride A. J. 1994
  4. http://www.nida.nih.gov/infofacts/marijuana.html
  5. http://www.drugabuse.gov/PDF/PARENTS_Marijuana_brochure.pdf
  6. http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Smoking_Cessation#Herbal_alternatives
  7. Australian Government Department of Health: National Cannabis Strategy Consultation Paper, page 4. "Cannabis has been described as a 'Trojan Horse' for nicotine addiction, given the usual method of mixing cannabis with tobacco when preparing marijuana for administration."
  8. [Tashkin et al.] (1990)
  9. Boyles, Salynn. “ Pot Smoking Not Linked to Lung Cancer,” WebMED Health News. May 23, 2006. (Retrieved 2009-09-05.)
  10. Study Finds No Link Between Marijuana Use and Lung Cancer,” American Thoracic Society. May 2006. (Retrieved 2009-09-05.)
  11. Armentano, Paul. “ Cannabis Smoke and Cancer: Assessing the Risk,” NORML: Working to reform marijuana laws. No publication date. (Retrieved 2009-09-05.)



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