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Cannabis smoking is the process of inhaling the vapors released by combusting cannabis. Most frequently the flowering buds of the cannabis plant, or hashish, a preparation of the trichomes of the cannabis plant, are used. Cannabis is consumed to produce a feeling of euphoria ("recreational use"), for medical reasons (such as to relieve stress or suppress nausea), or in pursuit of creativity (LEAP = Long-term Episodic Associative Performance Memory-- "inspirational use", "occupational use").

During this process, the main psychoactive chemical in cannabis, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs. It is then transported to the brain, where it binds to cannabinoid receptors, a type of protein cell in the brain. The cannabinoid receptors receive the THC, setting off a chain reaction that leads to the feeling of a mental "high" or a review of spontaneous memories or ideas. It has also been found that heating of cannabis results in the production of additional THC from the decarboxylation of the non-psychoactive Δ9-tetrahydrocanabinoid acid (THCa)[1].

While cannabis can be consumed orally, the bioavailability characteristics and effects of this method are starkly different. The effect takes much longer to begin, is typically longer-lasting, and can sometimes result in a more powerful psychoactive effect.[How to reference and link to summary or text] For these reasons, the great majority of consumed cannabis is smoked [1] or vaporized or a combination of the two.

Cannabis can be smoked in a variety of ways, including the use of pipe-like implements, including bowls and bongs, or by rolling it into a cigar-like "blunt" or cigarette-like "joint."[2]. The smallest and most economical screened pipes[2] (crater diameter: 1/4"=6-mm.; serving size: 25-mg.=1/40-gram) require a pre-sifting[3] process to break the cannabis herb down into a uniform particle size for control of burning temperature (aiming to vaporize more and smoke less), and to exclude cellulose chunks (useful to make tea instead).

Due to the popularity of smoking cannabis, several slang terms have developed, many of which are only relevant to select social smoking groups.

Smoking implements

Pipes

Main article: Bowl (smoking)
Glass-pipe

Glass bowl or smoking pipe.

Smoking pipes, often called bowls, can be made of blown glass, wood, ceramic, stone, or metal. To avoid inhalation of undesirable vapors, certain reactive metals, such as aluminum, are typically not used to make smoking pipes. When speaking about a specific pipe, the term "bowl," "cone piece" or "crater" (the narrowest)[4] often refers to the indentation where cannabis is to be combusted.

Blown-glass pipes are usually intricately and colorfully designed, and can contain materials that change color or become more vivid with repeated use. Such pipes may have a hole which is covered with a finger during inhalation, and then uncovered to clear the pipe of smoke and cool the burning cannabis. Slang names for this hole include: rush-hole, choke, carb (short for carburetor), "clear hole" or just "clear", shotgun, and shotty. Many Pipes include a small water chamber to filter and cool smoke which is known as a "bubbler"[5]

Pipes are often assembled with various metal fittings that screw together, with interchangeable, frequently decorative parts. Metal pipes may get hot, because metal is a good conductor of heat; this is avoided by using parts (such as a 1/4"-inner-diameter socket wrench[6]) which have a screen-loaded crater narrow enough to maintain a low air-feed temperature (385F/197C) and protect against waste of THC.

Bong

Main article: Bong
File:Redglassmarijuanawaterpipe.JPG

A bong is a water-pipe by which the cannabis smoke is filtered through water into a chamber, enabling smoking techniques that are not possible with a smoking pipe. Users will often fill the bong with cold water or ice in order to dissolve the carcinogens from the smoke and also to help cool the smoke before inhaling it. Ash Catchers, Diffusors, Percolators, and Carbon Filters are being seen more and more in Modern Glass Bongs in order to clean the smoke of impurities and to cool the smoke. [7]

Hand-blown glass bongs often employ the same decorative features as glass-blown smoking pipes.

Handmade single-toke utensils

Tinny

A tinny (a.k.a. tinnie, foiley) pipe, is a homemade smoking pipe which can be made entirely out of aluminum foil. The name comes from 'tin' foil, which is what many people call aluminum foil.

  • Ironically, tin can be toxic and if used to make a pipe could have negative health effects.[3] Although aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer's disease[4], marijuana itself has been found to slow the progression of said disease.[5]

The tinny is made by first wrapping a piece of aluminum foil up to the length of a pen (5"/13-cm.) around and around a pen or pencil or other cylindrical object, folding down a flap of the foil for added strength at one end, momentarily inserting a round object of slightly larger diameter to widen this top end to a depth of 5 mm., and finally snugly inserting a pre-shaped screen[8][9]. Carb holes can be added but most often are not. This piece can be lengthened by jamming a flexible drawtube in the tail end and taping the air leak as needed.

As a more permanent crater, a 1/4"-i.d. socket wrench or brass hose nipple can be inserted in the top end, screened, and taped in for airseal san solidity, or the piece can be made entirely out of one material by using a slab of foil perforated with pinholes as the crater screen.

The serving (25 mg.) of pre-sifted[10] cannabis is placed in the bowl, the user holds a moderate  flame an inch below the opening of the crater where  the marijuana is, while inhaling from the opposite end of the tube, for several seconds to give time to harvest vapors before igniting any materials. A long flexible drawtube, such as those found on hookahs and vaporizers, makes it easier to perform this operation and gives the vapor and/or smoke  time to reduce in temperature before inhalation.

Midwakh

Main article: Midwakh

Used in U.A.E., a traditionally narrow, screenable[11] L-shaped utensil (crater face up) which can be augmented with a fat, snug-fitting flexible long drawtube such as those used on a hookah.

Kiseru

Main article: Kiseru

Used in Japan, has a screenable head and mouthpiece both made of metal with a straight long link of bamboo in between, for which a flexible long tube can be substituted.

Sebsi

Used in Morocco, has a clay L-shaped screenable head ("shkaff") on a long hardwood stem.

Chillum reductum

Main article: Chillum

A chillum is a conical, straight-through utensil with the crater at one end; a chillum with an excessively wide, wasteful crater may be tight-fitted with a hardwood bead, metal socket wrench or other insert which contains a screened[12] 1/4" or 6-mm. diameter crater][13]. At the tail end, a bamboo or metal tube segment is jammed in over which a drawtube fits.

Puffpipe conversion

A traditional wide-bowl tobacco pipe receives a hardwood bead with 1/4"=6-mm.-diameter crater, firmly wedged in as with chillum, above. While the "Sherlock" model, frequently made in Switzerland or Bavaria, permits visibility of the crater during use, a fat drawtube extension slipped over the mouthpiece is a further improvement.

Waterfall Method

The Waterfall is a smoking device which uses the pull of falling water to draw smoke into the main chamber. A hole at the bottom of the chamber lets water pour out, while the marijuana at the top of the device is burnt. The smoke from the top is pulled through a hole and replaces the exiting water.File:A waterfall being milked.gif

Vaporizer

Main article: Vaporizer

Since the delivery of THC occurs through heating rather than combustion, it is possible to "smoke" small servings of sifted cannabis without ever igniting the herb, through the use of a "vaporizer." This is suggested to maximize consumption of active cannabinoids without the harmful and irritating effects of actual smoke.[14] A vaporizer heats herbal cannabis to 365–410 °F (185–210 °C), turning active ingredients into gas without burning the plant material (the boiling point of THC is 392 °F (200 °C) at 0.02 mm Hg pressure, and somewhat higher at standard atmospheric pressure).

At least one study has shown that using a vaporizer results in less tar and carbon monoxide inhalation than smoking the same amount of cannabis[6]. [How to reference and link to summary or text]

"Spots"

Main article: Spots (cannabis)

An alternative vaporization method, known variously as spots, spotting, dots, hot knives, or blades, is to compress a small amount of cannabis between two heated metal blades and inhale the resulting vapors.[7] In order to facilitate this process, a spottle (also referred to as a bowser or hooter)[How to reference and link to summary or text] is used to capture the smoke and maximize the amount of smoke inhaled. Although not a popular or well-known practice in some parts of the world, the spots method of consuming cannabis is quite common in New Zealand.[8]

Shotgun

Main article: Shotgun (cannabis)

A shotgun (also known as a shotty, brainer, charge,powerhit, super, or blowback) can have many meanings, but commonly refers to one user taking a "hit" of a blunt or joint (see below), turning it around so the lit end is inside the mouth, and blowing the hit out through the blunt/joint into the mouth of another user, who sucks it in. A "Stinger" has the same concept except smoke is inhaled through the nasal passage. This method works well on a low supply, because two persons get effects from one hit.

  • After using a screened[15] single-toke utensil (one-hitter), the first user can turn the instrument around, cup mouth around the crater-head, and blow air steadily through to a partner who sucks from the mouthpiece at the other end of a suitably long drawtube.

Rolled

There are two main methods of rolling marijuana to be smoked: joints and blunts.

Joint

Main article: Joint (cannabis)
File:Joint(detail).jpg

A joint is created by rolling up cannabis, either manually or with a rolling machine, into a cigarette-like product. Standard sized papers for joints are 70 mm (standard size), 79 mm (1 & 1/4 size) , and 110 mm (1 & 1/2 size). A narrower joint burns less hot, and encourages slower, longer tokes.

If a joint is smoked until it almost begins to burn the fingers of the user, the result is often referred to as a "roach". Tweezers or a specially-designed pair of "roach clips" may then be used to continue smoking. Some smokers prefer to insert the roach into a bowl or one-hitter rather than continue to smoke the roach as if it were a joint.

In many areas, rolled-up bits of business cards or otherwise weak cardstock are ripped into small pieces and used as a "splint" or a '"crutch". While these fail to remove many (if any) harmful toxins, they do allow for more of the cannabis in a joint to be used, and the joint will typically 'hit' better. Splints are sometimes mistakenly referred to as 'filters'. However, commonplace cigarette filters are rarely used, as they are less common in a smoking environment, in addition to the belief that tobacco filters cut out a significant amount of THC.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Blunt

File:O dutchmaster blunt2.jpg

A "blunt" is a method for smoking marijuana in which the marijuana is smoked inside a tobacco leaf obtained from the outer layer of a cigar.

There are three main methods for producing blunts. The first method is to hollow out the interior of a pre-made cigar and fill it with cannabis. The second method is to rip or cut the cigar lengthwise from end to end, after which the contents are discarded and the wrapping rerolled like a new cigar. The third method is to buy cigar paper (commonly referred to as a wrap) which can come in a variety of flavors, and roll it like a joint.

Users should note that cigar wrapper leaf contains nicotine, which may lead to unintended tobacco addiction (see "Mixing with tobacco", below).

Mixing with tobacco or other herbs

Often cannabis is combined with tobacco (also known as "Spinning", "Batching", "Webacco", and "Amsterdam Style") or other smokable herbs[16], such as hops flowers or peppermint leaf, in a joint or spliff. (Mixing cannabis and tobacco in a bong is known as a mokie.)[How to reference and link to summary or text] It may be done to enhance the flavor; to make a small amount of cannabis last longer by "cutting" it with another substance; or in the case of other psychoactive herbs, to increase and/or modify the effects on the user.

Mixing with tobacco is more common in Europe and the Middle East than in the Americas. For some users this practice is said to have an instant and more intense effect than smoking cannabis by itself, but at least one source has suggested that it can lead to nicotine dependence.[9] Possibly for this reason, in Europe where mixing cannabis with tobacco is common, all countries have a higher rate of adult tobacco addiction than the US where the rate is now under 18%.

Mixing with tobacco reduces the ability of users to detect by taste the presence of adulterants in the cannabis, such as chemical fertilizers, lead added by unscrupulous dealers to increase sale weight, or tiny glass beads added to imitate the appearance of trichomes. Large servings with increased burning temperature increase the potential for contamination by greater evaporation from toxic metals.

Health Effects

Main article: Effects of cannabis

Reports ave indicated decreased gas exchange capacity and the existence of particle residue in the lungs of marijuana smokers several times greater than for tobacco smokers.[10] These findings, however, may have been exaggerated. In both studies, smoked marijuana was not "cured" or filtered, while smoked tobacco was; modern vaporizers were not yet available. Tashkin et al. notes that "these differences could largely account for more than twofold greater tar yield from marijuana than tobacco that was measured using syringe-simulated puffs of similar volume and duration." Smoking cannabis through a water-pipe may filter out water-soluble carcinogens and also greatly cool down the smoke. Also, cannabis need not be smoked:  in Middle Eastern countries, it has been consumed through teas and food for centuries, avoiding the carcinogenicity of smoke altogether.

Lung cancer

There has never been a reported case of lung cancer attributable to cannabis, while of 6,000,000 people (worldwide) per year estimated to be killed by tobacco,[11] around a fifth die of lung cancer. This is primarily because when attribution to cancer is made, cannabis is never called into question. Tashkin et al, whose name is synonymous with studies of the negative effects of marijuana, published a study which showed no connection between marijuana use and cancer. Tashkin's study, funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Drug Abuse, involved 1,200 people in Los Angeles who had lung, neck or head cancer as well as 1,040 people without cancer matched by age, sex and location. All were asked about their history with marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco. Surprisingly the results of the study showed no increased cancer risk with the use of marijuana. This contradicts earlier work, which showed that marijuana smoke contained carcinogens which could be as harmful as the ones in tobacco. One theory is that the THC in cannabis encourages aging cells to die before they can become cancerous. The study may even point towards less risk of cancer with marijuana use. Tashkin notes that he still believes marijuana is harmful but his study refutes the claim that it causes lung cancer.

References

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  1. Verhoeckx KC, Korthout HA, van Meeteren-Kreikamp AP, Ehlert KA, Wang M, van der Greef J, Rodenburg RJ, Witkamp RF (2006-04-06). Unheated Cannabis sativa extracts and its major compound THC-acid have potential immuno-modulating properties not mediated by CB1 and CB2 receptor coupled pathways.
  2. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2006), World Drug Report, 1, pp. 187–192, ISBN 92-1-148214-3, http://www.unodc.org/pdf/WDR_2006/wdr2006_chap2_annex1.pdf, retrieved on 2007-11-22 
  3. Element Tin: Health effects on Adrenals, Depression & Fatigue
  4. Can Aluminum Cause Alzheimer's Disease? by Melvyn R. Werbach, M.D. Senile dementia is a progressive degenerative brain disease associated with old age. Its symptoms include sh...
  5. More Evidence Suggests Marijuana Slows Alzheimer's | LiveScience
  6. Template:Cite science
  7. "Cannabis use in a drug and alcohol clinic population", McBride A. J. 1994
  8. Put that in your pipe and smoke it: a traveler's guide to smoking pot in New Zealand
  9. Australian Government Department of Health: National Cannabis Strategy Consultation Paper, page 4. "Cannabis has been described as a 'Trojan Horse' for nicotine addiction, given the usual method of mixing cannabis with tobacco when preparing marijuana for administration."
  10. [Tashkin et al.] (1990)
  11. Press Conference On World Health Organization Report On Global Tobacco Epidemic



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