Which is better: vaping or smoking flower? A perspective from certifying physicians in Florida.

Ruba Sajdeya
University of Florida

Objective: To compare medical marijuana (MMJ) qualified physicians’ opinions regarding the effectiveness, dosing ability, product consistency, side effects, safety, and affordability of vaping vs. smoking as administration modes.

Methods: We conducted a state-wide anonymous MMJ physician survey developed by the Consortium for Medical Marijuana Clinical Outcomes Research. The survey was distributed among 1612 certified MMJ physicians in Florida via mail and e-mail between June and October 2020 and included questions on opinions related to MMJ practices. This abstract presents a descriptive analysis of the responses to the question: “For each of the following characteristics, indicate whether you think Smoking (flower) or vaping is better, or if there is no difference”. Chi-Square tests were used to compare the proportion of physicians that endorsed “smoking is better” vs “vaping is better” on each characteristic.

Results: A total of 116 MMJ physicians (7.3% response rate) from 29 Florida counties responded to the survey. The mean (SD) age was 57 (12) years old, and 70% were males. The majority of physicians thought there is no difference between vaping and smoking flower for safety over time (54%), overall side effects (63%), coughing and breathing side effects (45%), and affordability for patients (48%), but believed vaping to be better for product consistency over time (44%), ability to find consistent doses (57%), and ensuring optimal doses (41%), while smoking was perceived to be better for overall therapeutic effects (49%). The Chi-Square tests showed no differences between smoking and vaping for safety over time, overall side effects, and coughing and breathing side effects. However, more physicians thought smoking was better for overall therapeutic effects (49% vs. 14%, p-value<0.0001) and affordability (35% vs. 17%, p-value=0.0109), while vaping was better for product consistency over time (44% vs. 18%, p-value=0.0011), ability to find a consistent dose (57% vs. 13%, p-value<0.0001), and ability to ensure optimal dose (41% vs. 20%, p-value=0.0098).

Conclusion: The majority of surveyed MMJ physicians believed there is no difference between smoking and vaping for cannabis-associated side-effects, that vaping is better for ensuring optimal dose and dose and product consistency, while smoking is better for overall therapeutic effects.

Co-authors: Sebastian Jugl1, Anna Shavers1, Jennifer Jean-Jacques1, Yan Wang1, Robert Cook1
1University of Florida

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