Vaporization as a “Smokeless” Cannabis Delivery System

May 18, 2011

The full results of this study have been pub­lished in the jour­nal Clin­i­cal Phar­ma­col­ogy & Ther­a­peu­tics. Below is a brief sum­mary of these results.

The pur­pose of this study was to eval­u­ate the use of a vapor­iza­tion sys­tem (the Vol­cano; VAPORMED® Inhala­toren) as a “smoke­less” deliv­ery sys­tem for inhaled mar­i­juana. The study looked at heat­ing mar­i­juana to form a vapor and then com­par­ing drug lev­els in the blood to those obtained from smok­ing an iden­ti­cal amount of mar­i­juana from a cig­a­rette. In addi­tion, we com­pared the tol­er­a­bil­ity of the two meth­ods and mea­sured expired car­bon diox­ide to eval­u­ate whether the vapor­izer reduces expo­sure to res­pi­ra­tory toxins.

Eigh­teen healthy sub­jects were recruited and admit­ted to the inpa­tient ward of the Gen­eral Clin­i­cal Research Cen­ter (GCRC) at San Fran­cisco Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal to inves­ti­gate the deliv­ery of mar­i­juana by vapor­iza­tion com­pared to mar­i­juana smoked in a stan­dard cig­a­rette. One dose (1.7, 3.4, or 6.8% tetrahy­dro­cannabi­nol) and deliv­ery sys­tem (smoked mar­i­juana cig­a­rette or vapor­iza­tion sys­tem) was ran­domly assigned for each of the six study days. The analy­sis sug­gests that the blood lev­els of vapor­ized mar­i­juana are sim­i­lar to those of smoked mar­i­juana. How­ever, blood con­cen­tra­tions at 30 min­utes after drug admin­is­tra­tion and beyond were sig­nif­i­cantly higher in vapor­ized mar­i­juana as com­pared to smoked mar­i­juana. In addi­tion, the car­bon monox­ide lev­els were sig­nif­i­cantly reduced with vapor­iza­tion com­pared with smoked mar­i­juana. Four­teen par­tic­i­pants pre­ferred vapor­iza­tion, 2 smok­ing, and 2 reported no pref­er­ence. No adverse events were observed.

In this study, vapor­iza­tion of mar­i­juana was found to be a safe mode of deliv­ery. Par­tic­i­pants had a clear pref­er­ence for vapor­iza­tion over smok­ing as a deliv­ery sys­tem for the mar­i­juana used in this trial.


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