Mainstream American perception of cannabis use has transformed radically over the past century. The plant’s coming-to-America story began in 1910 when immigrants escaping the Mexican Revolution brought marihuana north. Cannabis had been introduced by colonial forces to pacify slaves on Latin American plantations; the Portuguese turned Brazil on to maconha, while the British delivered ganja unto Jamaica. In the intervening decades, pervasive racist stereotypes of cannabis use have only ebbed alongside growing legalization and medical legitimacy. Mexico legalized medical cannabis use in June, but that law limits permissible products to cannabis derivatives containing less than 1 percent THC. Mexico’s first leftist president in over seven decades, Andrés Manuel López Obrador aka AMLO, took office on Dec. 1, following his majority party’s submission of legislation to legalize recreational adult cannabis use in early November.
That bill would allow individuals to grow 20 plants—or up to 17 ounces—annually, permit public smoking and growing co-ops, stopping short of sanctioning edibles. Politicos predict a smooth ride for the bill. MSN Noticias reports that the Mexican Federal Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) announced government approval of 57 medical cannabis products including raw materials and ranging from supplements and cosmetics to beverages and edibles by the end of November. COFEPRIS-approved cannabis products are expected to be accessible via both retail and digital channels by the start of 2019. And 64-year-old López Obrador has spoken extensively about addressing the political, economic, social and cultural roots of the drug war and associated cartel violence while minimizing further bloodshed.
Throughout human history, cannabis use has largely taken the form of smoking with implements like pipes, bongs, joints and blunts. Vaporizers’ popularity as a cannabis administration method continues to grow, especially in states allowing recreational adult use. Vaporizer technology heats up raw plant material, extracts and resins to produce inhalable vapor. Vaping means less exposure to the toxic chemicals inherent in smoke, namely polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. A new study by the John Hopkins School of Medicine reveals that for infrequent users, vaping cannabis induces stronger psychoactive effects and corresponding THC blood levels when compared with smoking.
The study, “Acute Effects of Smoked and Vaporized Cannabis in Healthy Adults Who Infrequently Use Cannabis,” shows that vaping cannabis delivers significantly more THC to the bloodstream when compared with administration via smoking. Seventeen subjects who had not used cannabis for at least one month prior—and were tested for compliance—convened at six discrete 8.5-hour sessions scheduled at least one week apart. THC dosage increases (from 0mg to 10mg to 25mg) resulted in more pronounced subjective effects, including cognitive and motor impairment, acute cardiovascular effects and blood THC concentrations, after inhalation of both smoked and vaped cannabis. Yet vaped cannabis produced far more significant study outcomes relative to smoking. Cannabis’ pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profiles differ substantially across users and products, but vaping seems to offer more psychoactive bang for one’s buck.