Cannabis vaping: experiences, advantages and practicalities as voiced in internet forums

First published: 30 March 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019


Dr Kirstie Soar

Principal Lecturer

I completed my PhD in 2006 with Professor Andrew Parrott and Dr John Turner at UEL, looking at the long-term psychological effects of problematic ecstasy (MDMA) users, and have worked as as lecturer and now Principal Lecturer, and Deputy Subject Area Head, at the University of East London (UEL) in the Psycholgical Sciences subject area. My  research has been published in a number of international peer-reviewed journal and presented at numerous national and international conferences.  I am an active member of the UEL Drugs and Addictive Behaviours Research Group. This group builds on our tradition of studying the neuropsychological effects of drugs, as well as behavioural addictions. I am also an active member of the UEL Substance Use and Misuse Network (SUM);  an interdisciplinary network of academics, researchers and practitioners from different UEL schools,who share an active interest in the field of substance use and misuse.

Aims: The novel consumption of cannabis using e-cigarettes is currently poorly characterised and understood. Using online written posts from ‘cannabis vapers’ in drug-related public internet forums, the current study explored the nature of these behaviours and experiences.

Methods: Data collection was from a number of online drug forums, using an unobtrusive, passive observational approach.  65 discussion threads were identified which related specifically to discussion about the use of cannabis in e-cigarettes only; written in English and dated between 2009 and 2016.  Thematic analysis was conducted on forum threads to identify both surface level (i.e. semantic) themes and interpretative (i.e. latent) themes.

Results:  Three primary themes were identified. The first related to the qualitative experience of an e-cigarette high, with two subthemes: the ‘body buzz’, and the potency of different cannabis strains.  The second theme described the advantages of consuming cannabis via an e-cigarette, with three subthemes: cannabis vaping is ‘discrete’, cannabis vaping is ‘portable’ and cannabis vaping has ‘reduced odour’. The final theme related to issues that users face when attempting to vape ‘c-liquid’ in their e-cigarettes.

Conclusions:  Psychoactive effects of vaping cannabis are of clear importance to many users. The perceived benefits of this method of use suggest that vaping cannabis is attractive in a number of ways which could theoretically increase use. Nevertheless, a number of issues were also experienced which may suggest that the feared increase in vaping cannabis in e-cigarettes may be over-estimated and of more limited concern.


Mr Richard Greenhill, University of East London Dr Lynne Dawkins, London Southbank University Dr John Turner, University of East London

Conflicts of interest:

No conflict of interest


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