Cannabidiol, usually called CBD, is a non-intoxicating cannabis compound (a cannabinoid) that has become very popular in recent years due to the variety of therapeutic benefits it offers. It doesn’t get you high, but it can relieve stress and anxiety, and it’s very effective at reducing pain and inflammation.
CBD is found in hemp, which is a cannabis plant that contains very small quantities of delta 9 THC, the intoxicating cannabinoid that dominates marijuana. Hemp-derived CBD is used in all kinds of consumable CBD products, which can be sold over the counter in most areas of the United States and in many other countries.
Two of those products are CBD cigarettes and CBD pre-rolls. Let’s have a look at these smokable hemp products, and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of smoking hemp. We’ll also consider CBD options to avoid the harmful smoke.
What are CBD cigarettes and pre-rolls
Hemp cigarettes, or CBD cigarettes, are exactly what they sound like. The best CBD cigarettes use flower from high-CBD hemp strains, but most use ordinary industrial hemp. All are machine-rolled and look exactly like tobacco cigarettes—right down to the flip-top box and plastic filters. CBD hemp cigarettes are sold online and in stores.
The best CBD pre-rolls appear identical to the high-quality, hand-rolled joints sold in cannabis dispensaries. They’re just like marijuana prerolls, minus the marijuana. Hemp prerolls are usually filled with top-shelf, CBD-rich hemp strains. Like a dispensary pre-roll, they use simple paper filters to keep the ground hemp flower out of your mouth. CBD hemp pre-rolls are commonly sold online by specialty companies.
Both products contain CBD (all hemp does), but CBD pre-rolled joints usually contain more CBD than hemp cigarettes, since they’re filled with hemp strains selectively bred for high-CBD content. Both also contain detectable levels of delta 9 THC, but stay under the federal limit of 0.3% (anything above that is classified as federally illegal marijuana). They’re not intoxicating.
Both CBD cigarettes and pre-rolls carry the same risk as using any full-spectrum CBD product: you may fail a drug test. That’s rare, but not impossible.
Do CBD cigarettes or pre-rolls have any benefits?
All hemp-based products contain the cannabinoid CBD (cannabidiol), which has a variety of well-known health benefits. CBD is well-known for its anti-inflammatory and anxiolytic properties, making it useful for pain and anxiety relief. The cannabinoid can also reduce nausea caused by chemotherapy, and can treat insomnia at certain doses. Some research shows CBD may have cardio- and neuroprotective properties. And CBD seems to tame delta 9 THC’s racy effects, making marijuana strains with balanced THC/CBD levels helpful for weed users prone to anxiety and paranoia.
Most famously, CBD has proven effective in treating seizure disorders like certain forms of epilepsy. In 2018, the FDA approved a drug called Epidiolex, made from highly concentrated and purified CBD, specifically for the treatment of two kinds of epilepsy that begin in childhood.
What all those benefits have in common is that none of them require that CBD be smoked. While inhaling smoke is an effective way to quickly deliver CBD (or nicotine), vaping provides a similarly speedy result, and tinctures are almost as fast. Whichever CBD product you use, once a few minutes have passed, the CBD benefits you receive are nearly the same.
The best reason to not smoke hemp is the same reason not to smoke anything: smoking is very unhealthy, and there are lots of better choices. It is the combustion itself that makes smoking risky. Fire releases dangerous particulates and gasses, many of which aren’t unique to tobacco. Carbon monoxide, for example—which is responsible for much of the heart and circulatory disease caused by smoking cigarettes—is present in any kind of smoke.
Unfortunately, myths abound about the supposed low risks of smoking cannabis. There is a belief among many cannabis users that because they’re not smoking tobacco, the smoke is safe. That is not true. There is no such thing as “safe smoke.”
As with tobacco cigarettes, the smoke from hemp cigarettes and pre-rolls contains tar, carbon monoxide and a variety of carcinogens. While it may be unlikely that a hemp smoker will consume enough CBD pre-rolls or cigarettes over decades to cause the long-term harms tobacco cigarette use often does, smoking anything for any length of time can cause real health problems.
Whether you inhale smoke from tobacco or hemp—or a forest fire, for that matter—you face many of the same risks. Even if you don’t develop heart disease or cancer, any kind of smoke inhalation can cause chronic coughing, bronchitis, increased respiratory infections or a compromised immune system.
Luckily, there are better ways to consume CBD
Alternatives to smoking: CBD vaping, edibles and tinctures
CBD is available in all kinds of consumable products, including CBD vapes that mimic smoking without all the toxins of smoke. Alternatives to CBD smoking fall into two main categories: things you ingest and things you inhale. Either is a big improvement over smoking hemp cigarettes or CBD pre-rolls.
CBD gummies and other edibles
The least risky CBD products are those that are eaten or used orally. The most popular edibles are CBD gummies—those delicious soft candies that come in a variety of flavors, shapes and sizes. They taste great, and make it easy-peasy to calculate your CBD dose.
Also popular are CBD capsules and pills, which also make dosing simple—though some people say they lack the charm (and flavor!) of candy edibles like gummies. Yet another option is CBD oil tinctures, which you consume sublingually (drip it under the tongue). Tinctures may look like vape juice, but they’re not intended for inhalation. A high-quality tincture is a very effective way to consume CBD.
Some people smoke hemp cigarettes or pre-rolls because research shows that CBD may be effective at reducing nicotine cravings, which could help users quit smoking tobacco. But that research used medical-grade CBD inhalers, not CBD cigarettes. There’s no reason to smoke one thing to help you quit smoking another!
Vaping mimics smoking, providing an effective alternative to cigarettes, as millions of nicotine vapers have discovered. If you choose to vape CBD, you have lots of options.
The simplest way to vape CBD is with a CBD vape pen. Vape pens can be either disposable or refillable, and include both the battery and cartridge or pod. You can also build the vape pen of your dreams by combining a pre-filled or refillable CBD vape cartridge with your choice of rechargeable 510 thread battery.
Some people also vape CBD distillate using a weed pen, or dab waxy CBD concentrates in a dab pen or e-nail.
Finally, you can vaporize CBD hemp flower with the same kinds of weed vaporizers many use to vape marijuana. You have lots of choices, including powerful desktop vaporizers, easy-to-pocket portable dry herb vapes, and even stealthy pen-style flower vaporizers.
There are lots of choices when it comes to CBD. Why choose the one option—smoking—that can damage your lungs and heart? Vaping or swallowing CBD is a much less risky way to go.
The PAX quickly became the iPhone of portable weed vaporizers. Now It has more airflow, faster heat-up times, and a Bluetooth app for dialing in your exact temperatures. The PAX 3 is a compact and stylish all-in-one device capable of vaporizing dry herb and herbal extracts. It’s a durable and dependable daily driver.
Pros and cons of CBD cigarettes and prerolls
- All the health benefits of CBD
- Fast delivery of CBD to the body
- May help quit smoking tobacco cigarettes
- Hemp smoking is probably not addictive like tobacco smoking
- Hemp smoke doesn’t contain tobacco-specific carcinogens
- Full-spectrum CBD prerolls could trigger a positive drug test
- Industrial hemp offers inconsistent CBD content
- Hemp smoke may not reduce nicotine cravings
- Users may be unable to quit smoking tobacco by smoking something else
- Cigarette smokers routinely burn their clothes and fingers or cars and houses
- Messy ashtrays and smelly cigarette butts in the trash
- Smoke residue clings to clothes and skin
- Smoke causes yellow teeth and fingers and bad breath
- Hemp smoke contains many carcinogens not specific to tobacco
- Carbon monoxide in smoke can cause sudden cardiac death
- All long-term smoking can cause cancer as well as lung and heart disease
- CBD health benefits are probably more than offset by the harms of smoke
Smokers created vaping without help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and I believe vapers have the right to continue innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I’m a member of the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy