Is Smoking Hemp Bad for Your Health? – Lung Irritation Explained

Strawberry blonde women blowing out a cloud of smoke a mountain range in the background.

Many of us are aware of the worrying side effects that can come along with smoking tobacco, but just how, if at all, do these relate to hemp or CBD smoke?

Smoking, in general, can be problematic when it comes to lung health, especially over long periods of time. How you smoke matters though; frequency, method of inhaling, and smoking techniques can all impact how much irritation, if any, your products cause. 

It’s important to consider this question on an individual basis because there are so many factors to consider – it’s hard to apply a blanket statement to all individuals and say that smoking is or isn’t always bad for your health. In general, moderate amounts of smoke are relatively unlikely to cause long-term effects, but those with certain health conditions might be more prone to developing health consequences as the result of smoking. No matter what your scenario looks like, though, vaping and other alternative options discussed below can be viable replacements.

Is smoking hemp flower bad for lungs?

Smoking of any kind, including smoking hemp flower, can indeed be irritating and potentially damaging to the tissue within the lungs. This is especially true if you smoke on a daily basis, smoke heavily, or smoke via particularly harsh methods (like cigarettes or short pipes).

Another important note is that hemp flower should not irritate your lungs and throat if you are smoking smooth flower from a reliable source that has been well-cured and processed without added chemicals and pesticides. You can, for example, choose to only consume products that are grown in greenhouses, or indoors, so that the water is very controlled and pesticides are not necessary. We recommend browsing these hemp flower products to see if anything piques your interest. We have personally tried all the products that we recommend and can attest to their quality. 

Hemp flower has a lot of benefits, but smoking can be a drawback for some, particularly those with existing respiratory conditions like asthma, COPD, and others. 

Smoking with these sorts of conditions makes it more likely that you’ll experience irritation, coughing, wheezing, inflammation in the lungs, and other adverse effects. 

It may also make you more likely to deal with long-term consequences like a tendency to develop bronchitis or pneumonia, as the tissue in your lungs will consistently be exposed to irritants that can make them more prone to infection.

Occasional or light smoking is far less likely to carry serious side effects, but you might experience temporary sensations of discomfort, chest tightness, etc., all of which might indicate it’s time to take a break.

Fortunately, after taking a break to allow your lungs to heal, so long as you are smoking healthy hemp flower without many additives or chemicals, then you can go back to smoking after giving your lungs a little time to relax.

What does hemp do to your lungs?

As mentioned, smoke of any sort carries irritants and potentially carcinogens that can be both bothersome and problematic when it comes to lung health.

Hemp smoke is not specifically more damaging than any other type of smoke – in fact, it is less likely to contain the same volume of harmful molecules as other smokeable products, like tobacco.

The problem is not hemp itself, but smoke. Smoke is the result of combustion (burning), and as a result, inevitably contains things that aren’t necessarily meant to be inhaled into our body.

If you’re concerned about lung health, limiting how frequently you smoke or utilizing other methods, like vaping, can help you cut down on the risk of side effects and help keep your lungs functional and clean.

Model of a pair of lungs with a slice missing to give you a view of the inner workings of the lungs.

Is smoking hemp addictive?

No, smoking hemp is not addictive

CBD itself is not known to be an addictive substance, but the practice of smoking can provide comfort and cause an individual to develop a sort-of “mental dependency” on the act.

In other words, those who find it hard to stop smoking CBD flower are likely struggling to supplement this part of their routine rather than feeling a genuine, physical addiction to the CBD itself.

But, at the end of the day, smoking hemp is not addictive in and of itself. The non-addictive nature of CBD in general is part of what makes it a great alternative for more conventional medications (many painkillers can indeed be addictive and cause a variety of other negative side effects over time).

Smoking Hemp for the First Time

If you’re new to smoking hemp, regardless of your experience with CBD in the past, it helps to be aware of potential risks as well as know when it’s time to slow down or stop.

When smoking for the first time, try not to overwhelm yourself – start out with small doses or small amounts of flower, and try to only smoke once before adding more on top.

It also helps to choose a method that’s more friendly for beginners. Smoking out of larger pipes or those that offer water-filtration can be less irritating and harsh than other options where there’s less distance between the combustion itself and your body.

Smoking as little as possible to produce the effects you’re after is the way to go. Starting out small and working your way up from there is perhaps the best way to avoid unnecessary irritation and still find a dosage that actually works.

May Cause Throat or Chest Irritation

As mentioned, one of the most common side effects associated with smoking for both beginners and experienced users alike is throat, chest, and lung irritation.

Smoke is hot by nature – very hot. Because you’re actually burning the product to inhale its smoke, the temperature of the smoke itself can be shocking and irritating to the lungs and throat.

Just like hot liquids and foods can burn the soft tissue inside your mouth and throat, so too can smoke. The makeup of smoke – that is, the molecules that exist within it – can also cause inflammation or damage.

These effects are far more likely to become problematic if you smoke very frequently. Those who primarily rely on smoking for CBD consumption might find that, in addition to the effects discussed above, irritation can extend even beyond a smoke session and into daily life.

A couple in their twenties sitting side by side smoking joints.

Can hemp cigarettes cause cancer?

Hemp cigarettes aren’t known to particularly cause cancer. 

But, smoking, especially frequent smoking, can indeed be damaging to the lungs and contribute to serious, long-term health conditions. 

Hemp cigarettes do have their benefits – they’re easy to use, affordable, and easy to transport wherever you go. But, that doesn’t mean they’re the best option for regular use or for every individual. It always will depend on your preferences. 

Research on how cannabis smoke in general impacts the body is still evolving, so it’s difficult to definitively say whether or not this type of smoke is as harmful long-term as some may think. 

However, what we do know is that cannabis smoke, including smoke from hemp cigarettes, doesn’t seem to cause cancer (lung, throat, or otherwise) in the same way tobacco smoke can.

Though not totally free from carcinogens, hemp smoke tends to be less damaging, in part because of how it’s inhaled – cigarettes can counteract this fact, though, because they require a user to continuously inhale smoke for several minutes straight. 

So, to summarize: research generally has yet to discover a clear link between hemp smoke, including that of hemp cigarettes, and cancer, but that’s not to say that one might not exist at all. 

Hemp cigarettes can be one of the most irritating ways to smoke, so even if you do decide to incorporate them into your routine, using them mindfully can help you avoid unnecessary damage to your lungs.

Takeaway: Smoking Hemp Can Be Irritating to Some, But Not All

At the end of the day, smoke is smoke, no matter where it comes from.

That means that smoking hemp can indeed be irritating to your lungs and other parts of your body. 

However, it’s not necessarily fair to say that smoking is inherently “bad” for your health; CBD offers a wide variety of benefits that can actually be quite important for maintaining mental and physical health, and smoking in moderation isn’t very likely to cause severe consequences.

Having a respiratory condition that already makes it harder for you to breathe or makes you more prone to lung infection or illness might mean that smoking will be especially irritating for you. 

If that’s the case, vaping might be a better alternative – it avoids combustion altogether and, as a result, many of the bothersome aspects of smoke that become problematic.

Many people choose to smoke hemp or CBD flower because it produces results fast, is easy, and can be affordable. If you do decide to smoke, choosing to limit how often you do so is often the first step toward avoiding health consequences.

Choosing methods of smoking that are less harsh is also a great way to go. Holding smoke in for shorter periods of time, taking in smaller amounts, and similar practices are also effective techniques that can help reduce your exposure to irritants.

If you’re still concerned about lung health no matter what, though, and vaping isn’t an adequate replacement, there are plenty of other CBD products on the market that can get the job done.

As always, for product examples, recommendations, and comprehensive information on what they all have to offer, be sure to check out our directory here. Choosing only the best-quality products is another part of making your experience as seamless as it can be. By only smoking flower that comes from reliable sources and doesn’t contain harmful chemicals or additives, you can ensure the safety of your smoking habits.

Josh Murdoch

Josh Murdoch

I was born with Cystic Fibrosis, and although it is incurable, CBD and THC have been allowing me to live my life as a healthy adult now for years. For that reason, I’ve dedicated my career to spreading the good news about cannabinoids. Currently, I work for a vertically integrated cannabis company called Unrivaled Brands that operates in California, Oregon, and Nevada. Previously, I worked on two cannabis farms in northern California, one of which was located in the famous Humboldt County. I’ve also managed a medical cannabis delivery service in Marin County, California. I created CBD Facilitator to share what I’ve learned, and to recommend the best products that I have found in this chaotic market.

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