The Pros and Cons of Smoking

Liz Filmer
29 Sep 2022

To smoke or not to smoke? Joints have long been the quickest and most convenient form of ingesting cannabis. Still, mounting evidence suggests that regular cannabis smoking is linked to many undesirable effects on general health and the respiratory system.Informing yourself about the pros and cons of smoking cannabis will help you to determine whether smoking is the right choice for you or not. 

Benefits of Smoking

Smoking is probably the most popular method of ingesting cannabis worldwide and boasts several benefits over other cannabis delivery routes.

Rapid Onset of effects

Smoking cannabis creates an almost instant effect on the brain and body. When weed is inhaled, the smoke travels into the lungs and directly into the bloodstream, which carries it to the brain, organs, and the rest of the body. THC is detectable in plasma seconds after the first hit and the absorption peaks within roughly five minutes. The psychoactive effects will be felt in just minutes, peak after about thirty minutes, and last as long as three hours.  

For medicinal users looking to ease their symptoms rapidly, smoking provides quicker relief than other ingestion methods. In an international survey in 2013, almost 1000 participants reported the most satisfaction with smoking as the delivery method that provided the fastest Onset of effects.

Ease of Dosing

Cannabis is notoriously tricky to dose. Different strains vary in strength and can affect individuals differently depending on elements such as tolerance and BMI. Similarly to other medications, THC has a specific time frame where it can reach the desired outcome before the negative effects kick in. Smoking can make it easier to manage the dosing with more predictability. 


Bioavailability refers to the percentage of the active ingredient that reaches its destination. Smoking gives you as much as 56% bioavailability. In comparison to, between 10 and 20% bioavailability in orally ingested THC.


Enjoyment, relaxation, and euphoria are all crucial reasons many people choose smoking as their delivery method. A 2016 study exploring medical cannabis use in Canada discovered that smoking was associated with greater enjoyment and whole-body euphoria.

Other benefits

Other assumed benefits of smoking weed include the social aspect of it, the ease of use and the fact that it is a very cost-effective method of ingestion.

The Negatives of Smoking

Despite the perceived benefits associated with smoking, there are also negatives.

Respiratory illnesses 

The risk of respiratory illness forms a real risk for smokers. Cannabis smoke is full of many of the same chemicals as cigarette smoke. TheseThese include carcinogens, tar, bronchial irritants, and carbon monoxide. Tar in cannabis joints contains high levels of benzanthracene and benzopyrenes, both known carcinogens. 

Cannabis smokers face more substantial risks than tobacco smokers as they inhale more deeply, for a longer duration, and at higher temperatures. Smoking cannabis can result in a threefold increase in inhaled tar, with one-third more tar retained in the respiratory tract.

Research proves that smoking cannabis can negate pulmonary function and increase symptoms of respiratory illnesses. Regular cannabis smoking can be linked to coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, sputum production, chest tightness, aggravated asthma, and the Onset of chronic bronchitis. Evidence also implies that regular cannabis smokers are at a higher risk of airway infections, COPD, reduced lung function, and lung cancer. However, the evidence for lung cancer is not yet consistent.

A 2016 study of 169,036 medicinal cannabis patients mentioned that participants with respiratory conditions demonstrated a higher prevalence of marijuana use. 

Adults between 18 and 34 with COPD were virtually three times more likely to report using cannabis than their equivalents without COPD. The authors suggested that regular marijuana use could contribute to this and other respiratory conditions.

.However, not all effects of smoking cause permanent damage. Some of the harmful effects associated with smoking may be reversible. Those who quit smoking weed saw their chances of chronic bronchitis drop to the same level as those who have never smoked.

Duration of effects

A downside of smoking cannabis, especially for those needing long-term symptom relief, is that the effects of smoking last less time than other delivery routes. On average, you can feel an edible high for between four to eight hours. Studies also suggest that oral ingestion offers exceptionally longer-lasting analgesic effects and may be less intoxicating than smoking when delivered in safe, consistent doses.

Loss of THC 

Each individual's smoking style heavily influences the quantity of cannabis inhaled. Up to 80% of THC can be lost in side-stream smoke if you inhale carelessly; therefore, newer users will likely obtain less potential benefits. 

Liz Filmer