The modern method of vaping came to life all the way back in in 2003 when Chinese inventor Hon Lik presented his version of a vape pen to the rest of the world shortly after his father passed away from lung cancer.¹ 

Not long after that, e-cigarettes were being manufactured left and right and marketed heavily to help tobacco smokers break free of their deadly habits. They became the next big thing in the nicotine replacement therapy space and before we knew it everyone and their grandma had an experience to share about vaping. 

There were different flavors being introduced and every different style of vaping device you could imagine was being brought to the market. 

For years vaping was strictly reserved for those who used e-cigarettes for nicotine replacement therapy. Essentially that’s the idea behind it’s invention. But when the 2018 Farm Bill passed this allowed for the legal manufacture and sale of CBD products and suddenly vaping was duplicated as a method for people to consume CBD. 

Many questions and controversy swirl around vaping vs smoking and the purpose of this article is to explore the specific differences in smoking CBD flower VS using a vaping method.

Pulmonary Administration

Both smoking and vaping hemp are considered to be methods of pulmonary administration. This method is known for delivering nearly instantaneous results and being very effective in almost no time at all. 

Pulmonary administration refers to the administration of something by way of inhalation. When any chemical or compound is inhaled, it’s deposited directly into our bloodstream and quickly delivered to our brain to hurry up and signal us that it’s there. 

A Note About Decarboxylation

When investigating the questions that arise during CBD research it’s important to understand the process of decarboxylation (also commonly referred to as decarbing). Since this article is specifically about smoking CBD flower vs vaping it, let’s dive right in.

Simply put—decarboxylation happens when you light the flower, and inhale the smoke or vapor it releases. During this process of heating the compounds are activated which is a precursor to feeling their effects.² So let’s say someone decides to eat an entire bag of flower raw. Those who don’t understand how decarboxylation works might assume the worst. But now that you understand the compounds need to be decarbed before consumption to feel the full effects, you know better.

Just to recap: whether you’re smoking the flower or you’re vaporizing it, both methods involve decarboxylation which is necessary to activate the compounds involved in the experience of smoking CBD. 

Smoking CBD Flower

The method of smoking raw CBD flower is becoming one of the fastest growing trends in the CBD industry. Hemp cigarettes and CBD pre-rolls are flying off the shelves as more and more people are turning to natural alternatives for common ailments. 

The decarb process occurs when the flower is heated up and the compounds are activated into smoke, ready to be inhaled and deposited into the bloodstream and on their way to the brain. 

A study recently published by PubMed concluded “consumers are using CBD as a specific therapy for multiple diverse medical conditions—particularly pain, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders.”³

Additionally, 62% of the CBD users that were involved in this study admitted to exploring CBD as a treatment for a medical condition. Among the top three: pain, anxiety, and depression.³ 

This explains the CBD mania that’s swept the globe and continues to intrigue those in the scientific community every single day.

Vaping CBD Flower

When referring to the term “vaping” in the cannabis industry it could mean one of two things. The first being the heating of a CBD oil through means of a vape pen, and the second meaning a literal vaporizing machine designed to vaporize raw flower itself. 

Although this method of CBD consumption is still considered to be through pulmonary administration, it still varies slightly in the way it affects our bodies in comparison to how flat out smoking CBD flower affects us, 

Many people automatically assume that since vapor is more akin to a clear cloud of harmless puff, that it’s a safer alternative to smoking CBD flower. But the truth is we understand much less about how vaping affects our bodies than we do about smoke.

And the only way to gain that knowledge we’re lacking is time and research.

A Word of Caution About Vaping

When the 2019 lung injury outbreak from the vaping crisis fell upon us it left many people shocked and scared. The FDA urged the public to stay away from all forms of e-cigarettes. They also shared that if this wasn’t possible, then to make certain all cannabis-related vaping products were sourced from a reputable source with certificates of documentation to show. A cutting agent known as vitamin E acetate was suspected to be involved in the outbreak.⁴ This particular ingredient is notorious for being used in the black market circulation of THC filled vaping devices. 

While most can agree that vaping is quite possibly healthier than smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes, it should also be acknowledged that the research that needs to be done has a long way to go before anything conclusive can be stated. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, the two methods of smoking CBD vs vaping it are incredibly similar to one another. 

Both are inhaled and absorbed by the body in the same way. Both are considered pulmonary administration methods. And both must undergo the process of decarboxylation before any therapeutic benefits can be achieved. 

The primary difference is one creates a vapor and the other creates smoke. But the smaller differences (such as any unknown additives involved with vaping) have many people predicting catastrophic results in the future.


  1. VapingPost
  2. Leafly
  3. PubMed
  4. CDC

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