Asking questions and busting myths

Evolution of weed
MYTH: The uses and benefits of marijuana were discovered relatively recently

While the popularity of cannabis use is growing, with 48.2 million Americans using it at least once (according to a 2019 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), marijuana has been around for centuries. According to Science, cannabis evolved about 28 million years ago. The research organization published a report including evidence that “mourners burned cannabis for its intoxicating fumes on a remote mountain plateau in Central Asia some 2,500 years ago.”

The use of cannabis evolved over the centuries. The National Library of Medicine compiled a detailed history of the plant’s use across multiple cultures. Records from Egypt dated around 1,500 B.C. noted the topical application of cannabis for inflammation. Pliny the Elder, Dioscorides and Galen who lived during the Roman Empire, noted how hemp was cultivated to make ropes and nets, its medicinal uses and psychoactive effects. European travelers to the Middle East tested cannabis on themselves and brought it back home. Queen Victoria and Empress Elisabeth of Austria took cannabis to relieve pain and possibly to stimulate the appetite. As the 20th century progressed, the medical use of cannabis was displaced by the discovery of other drugs such as aspirin.


Question from an FLX420 Reader

“I read somewhere recently that folks who smoke cannabis should only hold the smoke in for a second or two because all the THC is absorbed by then, and all you’re doing after two seconds is damaging your lungs with the smoke. I’d like to know how much (if any) truth there is to this, and whether the same applies to vaping. Thanks, and keep up the great work!”

Because so little real scientific research on cannabis has been conducted to date, most of the data for answering questions like this is anecdotal. However, a 2021 article we found on, “a fact-driven, scientifically researched, comprehensive online resource” did offer some scientific insight, which was reviewed by Joshua Hooten, M.D. in 2022.

“What holding in your hit does is give your lungs time to absorb the around 88% of non-cannabinoid elements contained in cannabis smoke,” wrote freelance writer Paul Barach, a frequent contributor to PotGuide, Green Flower, HumanKind, and Cannabest.“That means more tar, more carbonized plant shreds, and more chemicals. Not the stuff you want around delicate lung tissues. Over time, this can create problems for your lungs and your heart.

“As for holding in a dab rip or pull off a vape pen longer, there are still traces of chemicals that you don’t want to get absorbed if you can help it (especially if you’re taking a high-temp dab), so you should probably just let that puff of vapor go, too,” he continued.

“When it comes to how long you should hold in a hit, there’s no scientific studies to turn to (yet), but just a couple of seconds should do the trick,” Barach concluded. “It would be safer and increase the bioavailability [the ability of a drug or other substance to be absorbed and used by the body]to take smaller hits and then take a deep breath. This increases the lung surface area and gets a higher amount of the inhaled smoke to your lung surface.”

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