Devina Singh, M.D., Steven Lippmann, M.D.
The legal and medicinal utilization of marijuana is rising. Similarly, there are efforts at expanding legal markets and a lot of social or recreational use (1). Currently, there is growing popularity at the inhalation of aerosolized marijuana from electronic devices, especially by younger people (2). This means of cannabis ingestion is called “cannavaping”.
Indeed, this electronic way of inhaling marijuana diminishes exposure to unhealthy combustion products, but it includes breathing in aerosolized cannabis and compounds of thermal decomposition (2). The inhalation of cannabis, nicotine, or even e-cigarette aerosols without these agents has not been proven safe for humans and can induce respiratory or other diseases. There are no long-term trials demonstrating safety and no one has ever had prolonged years of electronic aerosol exposure to derive health-related clinical experience (3).
A major concern is that marijuana, incorporated by any route, can induce a psychosis, accidents, and long-term exposure is harmful neurologically to cognition and judgment, particularly for children and young adults. Cannabis can induce impairment at the maturation and growth of axons in the brain and result in lifetime intellectual deficits (1).
It is important that physicians discuss all types of e-cigarettes and related electronic devices and provide warnings about inhalation of marijuana aerosols. In any form, cannabis is not safe for children or young adults. Exposure to aerosolized marijuana is a rising new public health concern, beyond the already-known cannabis-induced brain development risks to young people (3).
- Park JY, Wu LT. Prevalence, reasons, perceived effects, and correlates of medical marijuana use: A review. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2017;177:1-13.
- Varlet V, Concha-Lozano N, Berthet A, et al. Drug vaping applied to cannabis: Is “Cannavaping” a therapeutic alternative to marijuana? Sci Rep. 2016;6:25599.
- Budney AJ, Sargent JD, Lee DC. Vaping cannabis (marijuana): parallel concerns to e-cigs? Addiction 2015;110(11):1699-1704.