Cannabis + vaping = increased use of substances

Are people who vape cannabis more likely to use other substances? Credit Elsa Olofsson

There’s plenty of research that shows the negative impacts of cannabis and the same goes for vaping. But what happens when you vape cannabis?

In a recent report published in ScienceDirect, researchers looked for an association between cannabis vaping and other substance use. What they found may surprise many. That is, people who vape cannabis may be more likely to use other substances, such as illicit drugs, cigarettes and alcohol, as well as misuse prescription drugs.

The findings go against the grain of some who consider vaping cannabis a safer alternative to smoking the drug. Hopefully, the findings will help bury this myth. Experts say that vaping cannabis is not safe and nor is it safer than smoking it.

Cannabis vaping use increasing

While smoking remains the dominant method of cannabis consumption, the surge in vape popularity has notably amplified the use of cannabis vapes, particularly among adolescents.

Data reveals a nearly twofold rise in cannabis vaping among adolescents from 2017 to 2020. Recent surveys conducted in 2022 highlight that nearly 15 per cent of twelfth-grade students admit to using cannabis vapes within the last month. Additionally, there has been a noticeable uptick in the proportion of adults engaging in cannabis vape usage over the past few years.

The study

More than 1600 adolescents and 10,600 adults who reported cannabis use in the past 12 months were included in the study.

The findings revealed that a third of those who took part in the study used cannabis vapes. Sociodemographic analysis highlighted that cannabis vapers tended to be more educated, younger, and primarily not of non-Hispanic black ethnicity compared to cannabis users who didn’t vape. In addition, self-perceived mental health was notably lower among cannabis vapers.

The study found that the prevalence of cannabis vaping peaked among adolescents aged 12 to 17 and decreased with age. In the 25 to 34 age bracket, approximately 35 per cent used cannabis vapes, contrasting starkly with only 8.5 per cent among cannabis users aged over 65.

Looking at the main role of the study – was there an association between cannabis vaping and other substance use – the study’s findings were unequivocal. Those using cannabis vapes exhibited a higher tendency to use various other substances, including alcohol, cigars, cigarettes, illicit drugs, e-cigarettes, and other tobacco products. Additionally, they displayed a proclivity for prescription drug misuse.

While alcohol consumption rates didn’t significantly differ between cannabis users who vaped and those who didn’t, the usage of cigars, illicit drugs, other tobacco products, and prescription drug misuse significantly varied between the two groups.

Exactly why those who cannabis vape may be more prone to using other substances is not known. As the study authors say in their report, “Research is needed to understand why, as well as the implications of the association.”

But we perhaps should not be surprised with the findings. After all, we know that the way cannabis is used can have a difference to the effects. For example, the two most common ways of using cannabis are inhaling and ingesting. According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction:

With inhaling:

  • Effects will be felt almost immediately.
  • Full effects often peak within ½ hour.
  • Effects can last up to six hours.
  • Residual effects can last up to 24 hours.

With ingesting:

  • Effects are felt within 30 minutes to two hours.
  • Full effects peak within four hours.
  • Effects can last up to 12 hours.
  • Residual effects can last up to 24 hours.


Are people who vape cannabis more likely to use other substances? Credit Elsa Olofsson

By Michael

Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Melbourne and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

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