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Alcohol & Other Drugs

Safer Cannabis Use: Marijuana, hash, hash oil

Reduce your risk of lung problems, mental health problems and legal issues

Author: Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research

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You and safer cannabis use

While using cannabis may be safer than using some other drugs, there are things about using cannabis that can be harmful. Here are some things you can do to reduce your risk of harms and bad experiences.

Before you start.

Be sure you trust your source. Cannabis for adult personal use is now legal in Canada. Legal cannabis products are tested for quality in BC, and thus safer to use than cannabis you may get from your dealer or a friend. Avoid using cannabis if contaminants like mold and mildew are visible.

Try a small amount first. Some strains of cannabis may have higher THC content and may have a stronger effect than you were expecting. If you know it’s a stronger strain, you can use less and avoid unnecessary smoke and toxins in your lungs.

When using cannabis.

Be smart. Possessing up to 30 grams of cannabis for your own use is legal in Canada. Cannabis is regulated by the province of BC. You must be 19 or over to purchase, possess or use cannabis or cannabis products. Be sure you know where and when it is safe to use.

Avoid cannabis smoke if possible. Cannabis smoke contains tar and toxins. The safest choice is to use a vaporizer—it delivers the THC in mist form instead of smoke. But they cost a lot of money—$100-700. The second best choice is to smoke it in the form of a joint.

Prevent burns on your lips or fingers. Use a small piece of rolled unbleached cardboard as a filter.

Take shallow puffs, not deep inhalations. About 95% of the THC in the smoke is absorbed in the first few seconds so you don’t need to puff hard or hold your breath.

Leave tobacco out of the mix. Tobacco contains many cancer-causing toxins, so it’s safer to smoke cannabis by itself.

Did you know.

Water bongs are not as safe as joints. Bongs filter out more THC than tars since water tends to absorb THC. This requires you to puff harder, increasing the amount of tar that is inhaled.

Some pipes and bongs give off toxic fumes. If using a bong, avoid those with a plastic bottle, rubber hose or aluminum cone. If using a pipe, make sure it’s made of glass, stainless steel or brass (avoid wood and plastic).

Cannabis and driving.

Stay away from the steering wheel. Cannabis can impair your motor coordination, judgment and other skills related to safe driving. It’s safest to wait three to four hours after using cannabis before driving or operating machinery.

If eating or drinking cannabis.

Take your time. It can be hard to find the right dose when eating cannabis cookies or drinking cannabis tea. You may get much higher for much longer than you wanted to. To prevent this, use a small amount and wait at least one hour to feel the effects before using more.

Things to avoid

Using regularly at an early age. Human brains are not fully developed until early adulthood.

Using cannabis daily or almost daily. Regular habitual use can lead to dependence, meaning you feel you need to use it just to feel normal.

Using cannabis as your main way of having fun or coping with stress. There are healthier ways to enjoy yourself or deal with negative moods.

Using cannabis with alcohol. The effects of cannabis are intensified and may last longer than expected or wanted if you drink alcohol or use other drugs at the same time.

Using cannabis when you are at risk of a mental health problem. Cannabis use may increase the risk of psychotic symptoms for those with a pre-existing vulnerability to psychosis. And, it may worsen the symptoms of psychotic disorders.

Getting help

Self-help tools:

Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service:

604-660-9382 (Greater Vancouver)

For more information on cannabis regulation in BC:

While using cannabis may be safer than using some other drugs, there are things about using cannabis that can be harmful. Here are some things you can do to reduce your risk of harms and bad experiences.

Sploofs 101: How to Reduce the Smell When Smoking Cannabis

Regardless of whether weed is legal where you live, we still have to contend with roommates, parents, and neighbours, some of whom might take issue with the conspicuous scent of smoking cannabis.

So, strike a compromise: Continue smoking but take actions to minimize the risk they’ll smell it in the first place.

We all know about the trick of stuffing a towel under the crack of your closed door. But there’s something else that helps that you need to look into: a sploof.

These are handheld devices that typically contain carbon filters. You blow through one end, and out the other comes a whisper of the smoke you exhaled into it. They’re never 100% effective but using a sploof should be the difference between having happy roommates and getting an eviction notice.

Smokebuddy

Photo by Jesse Milns for Leafly

We couldn’t write a sploof review without first bringing up the Smokebuddy. You’ve probably seen them being sold at your local headshop—this brand really seems to have a stranglehold across North America, as you can find the device in smoke shops across Canada and the US.

While the SmokeBuddy can be held in your hand, it is probably too big for your pocket.

It comes in a variety of visually designs, including tie-dye, camo, or your favourite primary and secondary colours.

The company boasts that it can last up to 300 exhales through regular use, at which point you’ll find a ton of resistance when you try to blow into the Buddy.

We won’t lie, we didn’t count how many exhales it lasted us, but the Smokebuddy easily lasted more than a month of regular use.

What didn’t we like? The plastic packaging is a real pain to open: You’ll need a pair of heavy duty scissors and a calm mind. And Smokebuddies are for one-time use: there is no replaceable filter system and the device’s outer plastic shell makes it nearly impossible to recycle.

Americans can buy the Smokebuddy right on Amazon for $12.50 USD, while Canadians will need to shell out $24.95.

The Smokebuddy also has a smaller “junior” model as well as a larger “mega” model. So if portability or long-lasting use are your top wants, you might want to try those variations.

Eco Four Twenty

Photo by Jesse Milns for Leafly

This small, cylindrical, device is a heavyweight that exudes, “I am unbreakable.” It’s billed as a sploof made with “aircraft grade aluminium casing” and including a “2 stage medical grade filter.” While it costs a bit more than the Smokebuddy, the Eco Four Twenty also boasts a replaceable cartridge system that uses activated carbon as well as HEPA, good for 500 exhales.

The Eco Four Twenty feels good in your hand. And the thought of buying replacements that are cheaper than purchasing a new Smokebuddy really piqued my interest.

There’s just one problem: The filter lasted for less than a week of regular use—we tried twice. There is no way in hell this thing lasts anywhere close to advertised 500 exhales. If we had to guestimate it lasted us a fifth of that, at most. Maybe they’re testing it on bong-smoking ants?

Still, the Eco Four Twenty does have some positive points, especially due to its small size and the sleek design that makes it the sploof you would most want to see on your coffee table. That replaceable filter, also makes it one of the more eco-friendly options.

The creators behind the EFT are Canadian, so if you live north of the US border chances are you can find it in your local headshop. You can also expect fast shipping from Toronto if you order it directly from the company.

The device costs $26.95 USD and a pack of two replacements

Sploofy

Photo by Jesse Milns for Leafly

One of the first competitors of Smokebuddy, the Sploofy, has a legion of fans. The device has now gone through three iterations, begging the question—how much did the first version suck? Well, pretty badly, at least when we first tried it. A significant amount of smoke leaked from the front of the device before it even had a chance to go through the filter.

Having recently released a third generation, the V3 redeems itself with a re-designed mouthpiece, and in our tests it alleviated the problems that we had with the first version. The V3 also boasts a HEPA filter that the Smokebuddy doesn’t.

While Sploofy’s website doesn’t estimate how many exhales you get, this bad boy lasted us quite a while. It’s even taller in size as the Smokebuddy and just as wide, and it appears that the filter is bigger than the SB—meaning you may get even more use out of it.

The device is covered with a sheath of hard plastic, which reveals an ugly undercarriage containing the filter and a big wad of glue holding a mesh screen on to the filter. But hey, does anyone’s car look clean under the hood?

The bulky filter cartridge is also replaceable. The Sploofy V3 retails on online for $19.99 USD.

Angel

Photo by Jesse Milns for Leafly

A new competitor will soon be on the block, and Leafly was able to snag its hands on a prototype. Coming in a hot-red plastic casing, Angel hopes to disrupt the commercial sploof market and take on the Sploofies and Smokebuddies of the world with a design that easily slips into your pocket and allows for a tight grip when being used.

We didn’t test it to its limits, but if we had to guess, its smaller size likely makes it last for a shorter period of time than the Smokebuddy and Sploofy (but hopefully more than the Eco-Four Twenty).

Flow Filters, the developer behind the device, tells Leafly that they are hoping to sell it at the same or lower price than the Smokebuddy.

While not on the market just yet, we’re cautiously optimistic that the Angel sploofy will turn out to be a big hit: the team is taking months to perfect the design and the filtering medium, so you have a sense they want to put out a quality product when it comes time to hit the shelves.

A DIY Solution

Photo by Jesse Milns for Leafly

Need a sploof fast and at practically no cost?

All you need to McGyver your own is: a finished toilet paper roll, dryer sheets, and elastic bands.

Stuff the roll with dryer sheets, and then take a few more dryer sheets and lay them flat on one end of the roll. Use the elastic bands to secure the dryer sheets snuggly on to the end of the roll.

And there you have it, a sploof that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

You can even decorate it too. Want to call it “David Blowie,” in honour of the rockstar’s 1976 arrest for marijuana? Go right ahead! You can even bedazzle it with fake jewels if you’re into arts and crafts.

What’s great about the home-made sploof is that it masks and freshens the air around you, something none of the store-bought sploofs can do (we smell an opportunity). Conversely, the store-bought units may not do as good a job at masking but it

Look, your home-made sploof isn’t going to be as air tight as the chamber holding the filter of a manufactured sploof, so you’re always going to have at least a little bit of smell linger. But if you have marijuana-skeptic roommates or parents in your residence, the decision between no sploof and a home-made sploof is easy.

Which sploof is the best? That’s a hard question because there’s so many factors, and each sploof has its own pros and cons. In our tests, all of them were able to dissipate the smoke, leaving only a very transient whiff of cannabis odor. So whether you’re looking for something that fits in your pocket, starts a conversation while sitting on your coffee table, or that provides a long-lasting solution, there’s a sploof for you.

Looking to minimize the scent of smoking cannabis? We reviewed the most popular personal air filters on the market. Here's everything you need to know about sploofs.