Why Don’t Doctors Recommend Smoking Cannabis?

Alternaleaf Team
Written by
Alternaleaf Team
Feb 14, 2023
Last updated:
Nov 17, 2023

Despite what pop culture might tell you, you don’t need to learn how to smoke cannabis to benefit from medical cannabis. In fact, doctors in Australia recommend against it.

Medical cannabis has many therapeutic benefits, but if smoked these benefits literally go up in flames. From tinctures to vaporisers to capsules, there are dozens of other recommended ways to consume cannabis to avoid unnecessary risk to your respiratory tract and to prevent the loss of medicinal value.

Is Smoking Medical Cannabis Bad for Your Health?

We’re all aware of the risks of smoking nicotine cigarettes, but is smoking medical cannabis bad for you, too?

While there is little evidence to show that smoking cannabis causes lung cancer at the same rate as smoking tobacco, it’s not without its risks. So doctors in Australia don’t recommend smoking cannabis. Some of the health risks they’re concerned about are:


There’s evidence that regular marijuana smokers are more likely to report symptoms of bronchitis. And it’s known that smoking cannabis increases inflammation and irritation in the airways and lungs.

This is especially of concern for patients with pre-existing respiratory conditions, like asthma or COPD. However, research so far suggests the risks of smoke cannabis may be lower than tobacco.

Heart Disease

Evidence suggests that smoking cannabis increases the risk of heart disease, including heart attacks and coronary artery disease. For example, this data analysis concluded that “frequent marijuana smoking is associated with significantly higher odds of stroke and myocardial infarction or coronary artery disease, with a possible role in premature cardiovascular disease.”

Alternatives to Smoking Medical Cannabis

doctor, woman in green scrubs, with a clip board.
Doctors recommend other routes of administration over smoking, and thankfully there are several effective options for patients.

In Australia, plenty of other recommended routes of administration deliver the benefits of cannabis without the risks of smoking it.

For example, oils, tinctures, and capsules are popular choices that don’t require inhalation. They are discreet and straightforward and often have tailored cannabinoid and terpene profiles to meet specific needs. Many patients prefer these options because they are easy to dose and create consistent effects every single time.

Vaporising has also exploded in popularity as a much safer alternative to smoking cannabis. Technically you are still inhaling as a means of consuming, but it’s vapour — not smoke.

Smoking cannabis involves burning the dried flower, which activates the medicinal cannabinoids and terpenes. However, it also produces a whole range of by-products as the flower burns in the air. Some of these byproducts are toxic and could be linked to the health risks described above.

Vaporising, meanwhile, involves heating dried flower very quickly to just the right temperature to evaporate, not burn, the cannabinoids and terpenes. Each cannabinoid and terpene has a specific boiling point, and by manipulating the temperature, you can target specific therapeutic compounds.

Vaporising produces no dangerous by-products and delivers more cannabinoids because they aren’t instantly burned away with a flame.

A vaporiser like the Mighty Medic is designed to vaporise dried flower. It heats the flower very quickly to a low gentle temperature to maximise the benefits of the cannabinoids and terpenes.

What Do Doctors Recommend?

When you speak to a doctor about your medical cannabis prescription, they’ll consider your medical history, current symptoms, and previous medications to provide a personalised cannabis prescription recommendation. Every patient is unique, and doctors will help find the best product and route of administration for you.

But, they will never recommend smoking cannabis. The TGA recommends vaporising as the only way to use dried cannabis flower in Australia. As they explain in their guidance for doctors, when vaporising, “cannabis is heated at a lower temperature than smoking, producing fewer toxins and no side stream “smoke”, making passive smoking less of a problem.”

Vaporising: A Safer Alternative to Smoking Cannabis

Despite its popularity among recreational users, smoking cannabis isn’t recommended by Australian doctors. Instead, they can prescribe vaporisers, vape carts, oils, tinctures, capsules and many other safer, more efficient products.

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