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Vaping vs. Smoking Cannabis: Is There a Difference?

Whether you are a seasoned cannabis user or a curious newbie, there are plenty of cannabis products for you to explore and add to your daily rituals.

The best thing about using recreational cannabis is that you make the rules. From smoking joints to enjoying edibles, there are many ways to cultivate your own retreat, your way.

Smoking and vaping are two of the most common forms of cannabis – and while everyone wants a concrete answer on which is better, the truth is, it depends. As a highly personal journey, the difference between vaping and smoking cannabis comes down to the experience you want to design for yourself.

At The Retreat, our budtenders listen first so we can put your well-being above all. We’ve rounded up all the considerations around vaping vs. smoking cannabis, from the method of consumption, health effects, potency and dosage, flavor, convenience, and discretion.

Method of Consumption

The main difference between vaping and smoking is the method of consumption. Smoking flower, whether through a bong, bowl, or similar device or a joint involves the combustion of cannabis flower. In other words, you are burning the plant and inhaling the active components that are released.

On the other hand, vaping heats cannabis that is typically packed into a small cartridge to a specific temperature where the active compounds are then released as a vapor. The vapor is inhaled using a mouthpiece on the vaporizing device.

Health Effects

The biggest debate surrounding the two cannabis consumption types is around which method is healthier.

Similar to smoking cigarettes, it is well known that smoking cannabis actually produces tar and other harmful byproducts. Inhaling burnt cannabis flower can therefore irritate the lungs and lead to respiratory issues over time.

Vaping produces vapor that is generally considered less harmful than smoke. However, this does not mean that it is devoid of health risks. Some vape products contain toxic ingredients, such as thinning agents, flavoring agents, and other additives, which, when broken down, can become carcinogenic.

Moreover, in a study done by Johns Hopkins Medicine, it was found that compared to smoking cannabis, vaping increases the rate of short-term anxiety, paranoia, memory loss, and distraction when doses were the same for infrequent cannabis users.

Given the existing research, there is no clear winner between the two methods of consumption. It comes down to experience level and careful attention to the types of products you are purchasing.

At The Retreat New Jersey, we personally vet all of our brands to ensure that there are no harmful additives that could put your health at risk. It is essential to purchase products from reputable sources, like a licensed recreational dispensary.

Buying cannabis from a dispensary ensures that you are not only getting safe products but that you can talk through the health benefits and risks with a real person.

Potency and Dosage

Since vaping can be done with a more advanced device, it allows for greater control over some of the elements of the experience. For instance, you can custom-set your temperature and duration of heating with a vaporizer, which enables you to release specific amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes, based on your cartridge.

In other words, you set the rules on dosage and potency when you are vaping.

Smoking, however, can be less precise in terms of dosage. At the same time, Smoking you will likely feel the effects more quickly and more intensely. The extreme temperatures of fire immediately release all of the cannabinoids responsible for this more sedative effect.

We recommend that you start low and take it slow with either method, especially if you are a beginner. While vaping allows for more control, it is often better suited for individuals who are familiar with cannabinoids, terpenes, and their benefits.


The flavor is a wonderful part of the cannabis experience. It’s why edibles are so popular! However, if you’re looking to get a flavor-forward experience with inhaling cannabis, you’ll want to lean towards vaping.

Vape cartridges are formulated specifically to allow for nuanced flavors and aromas to come through. Of course, some products and brands will not prioritize flavor, so be sure to do your research or ask your budtender before selecting a vape cartridge.

When you smoke cannabis, on the other hand, it tends to be harder to discern the differences between strains, especially as a beginner. You’ll certainly smell a potent aroma with smoking via the classic methods, but the flavor profile of terpenes is likely to diminish more quickly and/or be overpowered by the smokiness of the experience.


Whether or not one method is more convenient than the other is a matter of personal preference. Smoking is seen as a “classic” method of consuming cannabis; it tends to be the most accessible for beginners and is often the first-ever method that most people try when they first experience cannabis.

Vaping requires specialized equipment or devices that can also be priced on the higher end. It can also take some maintenance to keep it clean and ensure its optimized performance over time. After every few sessions with your vape, you’ll want to give it a clean.

This is similar to the general maintenance involved with pipes or bowls should you choose to smoke cannabis instead. However, these methods don’t require as much effort. Moreover, joints or pre-rolls are extremely low maintenance, making them a fantastic option for beginners.

Another consideration is that vaporizers don’t require an external heat source. So, you’ll never have to skip out on enjoying your cannabis because you’re out of lighter fluid again.


Beginners and cannabis connoisseurs alike prioritize discretion. Particularly as the industry grows and all types of people partake, it is important to consider which option is better for those that want to keep their consumption on the D-L.

One of the most appealing aspects of vaping cannabis is that it does not produce as much of an odor, especially at lower temperatures. Additionally, vaping tends to emit a milder aroma, and often one that could even be classified as pleasant.

With flavors and options like orange guava or mango, vaping cannabis can be a smart option if you’re trying to keep things under the radar.

Smoke, on the other hand, can be detected from much further away. In fact, it lingers in the air for quite some time, making it a less-than-ideal option for someone who wants to be discreet with their consumption.

Vaping vs. Smoking Cannabis: Which One is Better?

If you’re a true beginner to cannabis and you want to experiment with an inhalation method of consumption, smoking is likely your best bet. It is simple and straightforward – and pretty much anyone can help you figure it out.

If you’re looking for a discreet method of inhaling cannabis, vaping is the best option for you. In addition to being convenient, you’ll be able to enjoy the medicinal benefits of cannabis with a great level of control and precision.

Lastly, if you’re a more advanced cannabis user, you may equally enjoy both methods. Consider whether you want a flavor-forward, medicinal experience (vaping) versus a more communal social experience (smoking).

Shop cannabis at The Retreat New Jersey

No matter which option you fall upon, both are exciting ways to fold cannabis into your daily rituals. Whether your definition of a retreat is rooted in flavor and potency or convenience, both smoking and vaping cannabis can play a role in your escape from reality.

Prioritize your well-being with high-quality, ethical cannabis products in New Jersey at The Retreat. Our inventory is stocked with social equity brands, mission-driven products, and more. Explore what we have to offer on our online menu or come on in and speak with a budtender to create your own sanctuary today.

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