Should You Smoke or Vape Weed: A Guide for Novice Cannabis Users

One question many new cannabis users have is whether they should smoke or vape cannabis. When I first started I was already a heavy cigarette smoker on my way to making the switch to vapes, fuelled by the ever-growing mounds of evidence that vaping was better for you and just as strong as cigarettes. As I got into cannabis, I figured the same principle would apply, but it’s actually not that clear-cut.

Vaping cannabis has become more popular in recent years. In Canada, vapes have emerged as the most popular Legalization 2.0 product, and I wonder if that has anything to do with the growing number of new cannabis users who have the same idea I did.

As many users try to figure out which method to settle for, here are some key differences between smoking and vaping weed to keep in mind:


A study conducted by experts from Johns Hopkins University found that vaping cannabis produces stronger effects than smoking it. There is also research that suggests that vapour can contain up to 80 percent higher concentrations of cannabinoids compared to smoke. For users who can’t stand smoke, the taste of joints or the burning sensation produced by smoking, this may be good news as this could mean needing to take fewer puffs to get the same effects. With that said, the potency of vaping or smoking may depend on other factors like product quality and whether or not you were doing it right. Whatever the case ends up being for you, if you are new to using cannabis, pace yourself to avoid getting way too high.

Taste and Smell

In general, it is said that vaping produces purer and lighter flavours which make it easier to distinguish between the flavour profiles of different strains. This is potentially due to how quickly and intensely terpenes get obliterated when weed is combusted as well as how the smoke can quickly overpower other senses. Vaping also produces a lighter aroma that does not linger. On the other hand, some people prefer the denser, stronger flavours offered by smoking. Also, many cannabis users find pungent cannabis smoke to be an indicator of a good batch. For those people, the lightness of cannabis vapour is only really an advantage if they are in public and trying to be discreet.


The largest expense associated with vaping is the cartridges, which typically retail legally for anywhere between $40 to $80 per half a gram. Evidence cited earlier that vaping is more potent, as well as the fact that vaping uses a heating method that is gentler on cannabis compounds, suggests that vaping is a more efficient way to consume cannabis than smoking is. But do these small differences in efficiencies actually mean you will spend less money? There is no real data on that yet, and so I recommend you ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I more likely to use up a $60 cartridge in a week or smoke $60 worth of bud in a week?
  • Am I willing to risk purchasing my cartridges or bud from the black market where there are more competitive prices?
  • Is there something about vaping or smoking that makes a potentially higher price point worth it?


Vaping beats smoking in one area: discreetness. Otherwise, smoking has my vote for the convenience factor. Vapes have to be charged in advance. If you find yourself outdoors without a charger for a full day, or if you want to do something off-the-grid like backcountry camping, you can’t really rely on your vape. Furthermore, most vapes still use outdated micro USB charging ports. This means you probably have to carry an extra cable around. Vapes also do require some level of maintenance, such as cleaning, replacing batteries and more. The only potentially tedious thing about smoking is having to roll your own joints. Then again, there are always pre-rolls and helpful friends to circumvent that.


While studies have said that there is no link between cannabis use and lung cancer, an article published in 2007 indicated that weed vapers do experience fewer respiratory symptoms compared to smokers. There is no open flame involved in vaping and combustion is the main culprit for these respiratory symptoms. However, the emergence of vaping-relating illnesses has sparked concerns about the potential health effects of vaping cannabis. As a vaper of both, the media hysteria is confusing and unhelpful, but there are credible resources out there to help you figure out which ingredients are actually harmful to you.

Why not both?

Photo by: @fortheloveofsmoke

Personally, I find both vaping and smoking to have their own merits. I don’t think they’re actually that different from one another. I prefer the taste of vaped weed, but have a soft spot for the evergreen novelty of smoking it. Perhaps the answer is not to pick a favourite, but to make room for both options.

If you have never vaped, vaping doesn’t feel any different from smoking a hookah or a bong. If you’ve not done those either, there is a way to “test-drive” vaping so you can get a rough gauge of how potent it is and whether or not you’d enjoy the experience. There are vape lounges all over Canada where you can try out Volcanos and other vape products. Although, I’d save this activity for a safer, post-COVID-19 world.

A lot of what we know about vaping should not be considered the end of the story. Science is still trying to catch up with the vaping phenomenon. At the end of the day, you should experiment with different options to see which one best suits you. You can start by learning more about the best THC vape pens and batteries currently in the market here.

Do you prefer smoking or vaping weed? Let us know why in the comments and follow CLN for more cannabis news and articles.