Why is switching from smoking weed to vaping so hard?
By: Herbert M. Green
No, this is NOT going to be yet another one of those ‘new year’s resolution articles’. Nor a summary on the multitude of reasons why you should quit smoking and start vaping (well, maybe a little).
Instead, this article will be a guide on how to make the switch from combustion to vaping. That’s because knowing why you should do something doesn’t necessarily make doing it any easier. Sure, it makes for a good initial motivator, but sticking with it is an entirely different ball game. So, if you are serious about giving your lung capillaries a breath of fresh, terpy air and stop combusting, keep on reading and maybe, just maybe, I can convince you to stick with it and change your life for the better.
A quick and dirty recap of why vaping weed is better than smoking it (for those don’t know yet)
- Better flavour - Not burning up those scrumptious terpenes means they actually reach your tongue and can tickle your taste buds.
- Less damaging to your health - No combustion means no carbon monoxide and other nasty chemicals are released.
- More economical / efficient - No combustion means the good cannabinoids and terpenes reach your system instead of half of them going up in smoke beforehand. You also use less herb per session.
- A better high / more functional high - Instead of that super-stoned, couchlock feeling the high from vaping feels clear and fresh, keeping you more functional and alert.
Even expert-vapers struggle making the switch from combustion to vaping
Kicking old habits is hard enough as it is, especially when you throw an addictive substance like tobacco into the mix. And I should know, being a consumer of tobacco-laden joints for half my life. I started the cool, not so cool habit at the impressionable age of 15, puffing out death-smoke like a neglected Soviet-era Trabant putting in a valiant effort to overtake a Porsche 911 on the German autobahn till well into my 30’s. That all changed when my wife gave me my first vaporizer on my 33rd birthday.
At least, that’s what I like to tell myself. Admittedly, and to my chagrin, it took me two more bloody years to kick tobacco to the curb completely. Two years of experimenting, failing, going back and forth between letting weed go up in smoke and trying to get used to the high I got from vaping it.
The difference between the high you get from smoking and vaping
The reason it took so long for me to become a full-time convert to vaping cannabis was, first and foremost, my unwillingness to recognise the superior high. Besides being addicted to the nicotine, I was so used to that particular stoned feeling those spliffs(1) gave me, that the high I got from my first vaping-experience just felt ‘off’ somehow.
I missed the sluggish, drowsy and couch-locked feeling I got from smoking a big, fat joint. I honestly thought that was the only way cannabis was supposed to make me feel. So, my first few months of puffing on a vaporizer left me wondering why I wasn’t getting high at all.
- A ‘Spliff’ is a hand-rolled joint with both tobacco and cannabis in it, as opposed to a joint rolled with only cannabis. Not to be confused as a ‘Blunt’ which is a cigar with weed in it.
A joint ain't no Spliff until you add the tobacco m'dudes!
With the benefit of hindsight I know now that I was getting high all along, I just didn’t realise it at the time. I didn’t realise that the psychoactive substance called nicotine was fucking with my high.
The science is still not exactly clear on how nicotine does this because there have been only a handful of studies done on the combined effect of nicotine and cannabinoids.
One of the better ones was a study from 2014, conducted at The University of Texas in Dallas, where they looked at the effects of MJ(2) and tobacco on hippocampal structure and the effects on learning as well as memory processes.
The other, remotely relevant study came from Greece in that same year, where they studied the influence of both cannabinoid and nicotinic receptors on our dopamine-reward system.
- ‘MJ’ stands for Mary Jane, code for Marijuana a.k.a cannabis
Neither one of these studies explain why the high of a weed/tobacco mix is so different from the high you get from vaping pure flower. The only plausible explanation I’ve ever heard is that the blood vessel-constricting properties of nicotine and the subsequent reduction in oxygen to the brain and extremities create that body load or couchlock sensation. I guess time will tell if we’ll ever get to the bottom of this question.
Scientists may not know why it happens (yet), but I do know that I got sick of being a lethargic couch potato every time I got blazed.
Vaping gives you a clearer and more functional high
So, what is a vaping-high supposed to feel like? Well, I’d describe it as a more clear, crisp, lighter, less intrusive, less foggy and more ‘heady’ high. It doesn’t hit you in the face as hard and it doesn’t knock you out as a spliff does. Instead, it makes you feel more energised and clear-minded. Relatively speaking of course because you will definitely feel high, but it also leaves some room to think clearly and be functional.
For example, in my smoking days, I couldn’t have written this article after finishing off one of my preferred skinny hash spliffs. My mind would have been all over the place and my motivation to get the job done would be curled up in the fetus position, somewhere in the corner of the room.
Thanks to this combo I can vape all day long and still do my thing
The right strain can make all the diff to get away from the spliff
Of course, I understand that not all stoners and cannabis enthusiasts are alike and some of you actually prefer that lethargic, stoned vibe, which is perfectly fine. I do too, from time to time. You just need to get your sticky-icky fingers on a strain that has an abundance of the terpenes Linalool, Geraniol, Myrcene and Humulene. (i.e. buds that smell flowery, earthy, and hoppy) Those strains, whom in the olden days would have been categorised as ‘Indica-dominant’, are nature’s little helper to a relaxed, lazy and sleepy state of being.
Vaping at higher temperatures will get you higher
Another sure-fire method for giving you a serious buzz is vaping your bud at a higher temperature. Where you’d normally vape at a temp of around 180°C to 190°C, you can try ramming it all the way up to a blistering range of 220°C or even 240°C
Like one of Dispensr’s founders, David, is fond of saying: “Low high? Temp up!”
Missing the rollers-routine: Another reason why it’s hard to give up the joint.
Missing the ritual of rolling and the feeling of a joint between your fingers is an additional reason why some people find it hard to switch to vaping. And I must admit, that I was struggling with that as well in the beginning.
That was until I got my first DynaVap VapCap. Not only does prepping my VapCap for flight feel like its own little ritual, but I can also hold it in the same fashion as I would a joint. That might not seem like a big deal, but it does make a real difference.
Funnily enough, it was that same David that gave me my first VapCap at one of the vape-demos he frequently organises. Not only did he confide in me that he himself had struggled with all the same issues I’ve described above, but having tried a whole slew of different vaporizers he told me, and I quote: “The VapCap was the vape that made me switch to vaping fulltime. That’s the vape that made it all click for me” (pun intended?).
Finding a good beginners vaporizer is a must
Remember at the beginning of this article I told you about my wife gifting me a vaporizer on my 33rd birthday? That vape was supposed to get me off tobacco. Yeah, it didn’t.
That’s because it was a cheap, plastic, underpowered piece of crap. (Sorry babe, we both didn’t know any better back then) Had she given me a VapCap or a heavy-hitter like the Dreamwood Glow, I wouldn’t have struggled as long with the switch as I have.
Let that be the last lesson I bestow upon you before I sign off. Expensive vapes aren’t necessarily better, but dirt cheap vaporizers will definitely sour your first vaping experience. Especially if you are used to smoking spliffs or pure joints.
Now, 7-odd years after I got my first vaporizer, I can honestly say I can’t imagine ever lighting up a joint again. Yes, I had to get used to the difference in both the high and the feel, but once I got there it felt like I turned the page to a whole new chapter in my life. And I hope this story will inspire and help you to get over that initial hump as well.
If so, please let us all know in the comments below or on one of Dispensr’s social media channels. Or maybe you completely disagree? In that case, let us know about your experience. And what was or will be your first vaporizer? We would all genuinely like to hear your story. So, don’t be shy and share!
Peace out & vape on!
Herbert M. Green