Last Updated on 5 months by Plain Jane
There’s more than one way to skin a cat, or in this case, more than one way to use hemp. Edibles, topicals, tinctures, and oils abound. But despite the wide variety, the majority of hemp users stick to smoking it.
Believed to be the most effective way to imbue the body with cannabinoids, smoking hemp remains widely accepted as the standard bearer for hemp usage methods. But studies show that smoking hemp could be a double-edged sword with consequences that compete closely against its benefits.
The Origins of Hemp Smoking
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In the 1800s, people used hemp (a legal commodity at the time) as a medicinal herb. They would toss the plant matter into high-proof alcohol along with other herbs and spirits in order to produce tinctures.
These folk medicine formulations lost popularity sometime in the early 1900s. That’s because as Mexicans south of the border fled the Mexican revolution, they brought with them dried, cured hemp flowers rolled in paper like a cigar.
Over time, these became accepted as the norm because of the convenience of using them versus making tinctures. Thus smoking hemp became a widely accepted norm.
The Process of Decarboxylation
So, why does smoking hemp work? Well, it’s all because of a process called decarboxylation. This basically entails exposing the hemp flower to heat. As the temperature rises, chemical changes occur.
Contrary to popular belief, the hemp flower isn’t actually rich in cannabinoids. What it has are what we call cannabinoid acids. These precursors are inactive. When they’re taken into the human body, they don’t do much and they possibly don’t even interact with the cannabinoid receptors throughout the central nervous system.
So to activate them, you would have to remove the carboxyl group from the chemical structure and replace it with a carbon bond. This whole process occurs when the plant matter is subject to heat.
That’s precisely why smoking hemp works wonders to imbue the body with the plant’s chemistry. Aside from converting the inactive acids, smoking hemp also provides the system with freshly activated cannabinoids that enter the body straight from the source.
The Benefits of Smoking Hemp Flower
Yes, a little bit of elitism does exist throughout the hemp user base. For veterans and purists, smoking hemp stands as the only acceptable way of using the coveted agricultural commodity.
But there’s so much more to the hemp smoking preference than just simply being a right of passage. This method of use has often been said to provide the most potent experience, and then some.
- Highest bioavailability – Bioavailability is a fancy term that simply pertains to how many cannabinoids are available for the body to use. According to studies, smoking hemp offers the highest level of bioavailability.
So for instance, if you’re taking a 100mg CBD pre-roll, smoking it would bring your body about 60% of that content. That means you would feel more profound effects since your body absorbs more of the plant chemistry.
Surprisingly, studies suggest that the oral bioavailability of CBD and other cannabinoids sits at just 6%. This drastic disparity is due to the fact that when cannabinoids pass through the gut, they have to be broken down before being absorbed. So what’s left is only just a fraction of the original dose.
- Convenient – It’s always fun to mess with new ways to get your CBD dose in. But after a while, you’re probably going to ditch the elaborate teas and recipes because of how much time it takes to make them.
Smoking hemp makes sense because it’s so simple and accessible. Pre-rolls are sold virtually everywhere. Vendors will always have hemp flowers in stock, and you could just get yourself a pipe for easy, unceremonious, everyday use.
- Affordable and accessible – Let’s face it. Keeping up with a hemp habit can get costly. That becomes doubly true when you always turn to stuff like edibles and tinctures. Remember — taking hemp products orally significantly decreases their potency.
That’s why people often end up spending way more on edibles because they need to take higher doses to feel their effects. With hemp flower, however, you’re paying just a fraction of the cost while getting ten times the potency.
Is Smoking Hemp Dangerous?
After all, it’s still smoke. It’s no secret that the lungs are sensitive to foreign contaminants. And despite absorbing cannabinoids just fine, the byproducts of smoke may pose a risk to lung health in the long run.
It pays to recognize however that studies confirm that hemp smoke does not affect the lungs the same way that tobacco smoke does. Presently, there is no evidence to suggest that hemp smoke is carcinogenic, unlike tobacco which is closely linked to all forms of cancer.
While the research remains insufficient, we do know that smoke from hemp may cause some airway irritation and large airway resistance. Across all studies, however, there is no indication that hemp smoking causes airflow obstruction or impaired gas transfer.
In layman’s terms, smoking hemp may cause some irritation issues, but it doesn’t interfere with the way your body breathes in or with the transfer of oxygen from your lungs to your bloodstream.
Is Smoking Hemp Legal?
It’s interesting how hemp law has evolved throughout the years. By now, everyone knows that hemp itself is legal. But with so many legislators unaware of what it actually is, some states have experienced strange restrictions pertaining to smokable hemp products.
At one point or another, Indiana, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Kentucky all had laws that attempted to control the sale, use, possession, production, and purchase of smokable hemp products. This just goes to show how clueless some lawmakers might be.
Remember that hemp can’t cause a high. With just 0.3% THC, hemp can’t conjure up the same mind-altering effects that marijuana does. So despite the similarities in presentation, these two products deliver entirely different results.
Nevertheless, the legality of smokable hemp still depends on your specific location. It pays to read up on local laws and regulations to find out whether smoking hemp might get you in trouble.
To stay on the safe side, it’s always better to simply keep your hemp smoking habit to yourself. Avoiding public spaces while smoking your hemp flower can deter unwanted attention.
Remember that hemp and marijuana look painfully similar. So even if you’re smoking your hemp in a state with relaxed laws, authorities might still ask you some questions if they feel your pre-rolls contain marijuana.
Smoking hemp definitely offers a number of benefits that very few other methods of us can deliver. But even then, it’s not without its drawbacks. From a legal standpoint, smoking hemp can prove to be a challenge, especially for users in states with regulations that attempt to penalize smokable products.
All things considered, however, if you want the most potent effects without spending a fortune, a hemp pre-roll might be for you.