Are You Smoking Cannabis the Wrong Way?

  • The human anatomy determines the amount of THC absorbed by one’s blood and brain.
  • Inhaling large quantities of smoke may not be the best way of maximising cannabis use. 

When starting to smoke, the natural reaction is to hold one's breath for as long as possible. This inhalation technique, however, may not be the right one for marijuana users. 

According to Steve Liebke's handbook for cannabis usersSteve Liebke's handbook for cannabis users, one must "take small, shallow tokes or pulls. About 95% of THC in cannabis smoke is absorbed in the first few seconds so breath holding is quite pointless. All it really achieves is a far greater amount of tar being deposited in the lungs." 

True as this is, there is more. A different way of inhaling cannabis will optimise the amount you need to smoke. After the smoke enters the body, such cannabinoids as THC will go through the respiratory system until finally reaching the alveoli. It is there that the exchange of gases entering the lungs and the bloodstream takes place. The heart will then send that blood to the brain.

Lungs are complex structures whose entire purpose is that of gas exchange: taking advantage of the oxygen and discarding the carbon dioxide. According to various sources, the total surface of the "accordion" composed of these vital organs varies between 65 m2 and 140 m2. Filling them completely and in a natural way is therefore easier than trying to flood them with smoke.

As with breathing, the gas exchange in the lungs is instantaneous, lasting a few milliseconds. This means that, from the very first moment one inhales cannabis, it takes barely a minute for it to reach the bloodstream of the brain. 

This process of access to the brain is a special one for cannabinoids as there are other molecules such as endorphins that are, quite simply, unable to perform this function. Having reached the nervous system, the THC will try to find the CB1 receptors and join them. Once this happens, the psychoactive effects will start to take place.

Thus, as THC and other cannabinoids are not absorbed until they reach the alveoli, any inhalation exceeding the capacity will fill the trachea, nose and mouth. Considering this approach to the problem, it amounts, ironically, to squandering one's cannabis. An intake of large amounts of smoke, instead of maximising its use, has exactly the opposite effect. 

Besides, holding one's breath and feeling dizzy does not enhance the effects of cannabis; rather, it results from oxygen deprivation. 

There are several techniques for guaranteeing that all of the cannabinoids present in the smoke of one's cigarette, pipe or vaporiser reach the brain. A light puff with each intake, accompanied by calm inhalation, will ensure that your lungs fill completely without exceeding the quantity of cannabis your body can absorb.

The best thing to do next is allow this initial intake to reach the brain without any rush. Take a minute to pause and relax, and the THC will have time to activate its psychoactivity before the second puff, thus guaranteeing a full, satisfying experience rather than an avid use. 


The main photograph of this article is the property of Ashton


Comments from our readers

Leave a comment!

Read comments in other languages:

Contact us

Contact us