Toking: You’re Doing It Wrong

Knowledge is power and ignorance is decidedly not bliss. The science of toking may surprise you. Most of the country is doing it wrong (Hollywood proves it on a daily basis).


A young cannabis fan in Southwestern Ohio, circa 2006

In a nutshell: You’re probably screwing up this toking thing.

I know…you’ve been smoking for years. Maybe decades. How could you be not doing it correctly? Please, Mr. Rabinski; you’re pushing my patience on this particular point, toker science dude.

We’ve All Been Wrong

But I can’t take the guilt. I have to come out of the closet. I’ve also been doing it wrong. In fact, most of us have been doing it wrong. You probably are. Your neighbor likely is. Your cousin’s sister-in-law, or that dork with the bad haircut at the office? For damn sure.

I posed a question to Dr. Aggarwal: Millions of cannabis consumers, when they smoke or vape, retain, or hold in, their inhale for several seconds—sometimes as long as they can, especially with an overflowing lung packed with smoke or vapor. Unfortunately, this is a topic where beloved and missed hemp hero Jack Herer was wrong.

Holding one’s breath with smoke that contains tars and carcinogens is simply not helpful. In fact, modern cannabis science (not available back in the 1970s to ’90s, when Jack did the core of his work) has revealed that it’s harmful.


A cannabis user at the Hotbox Cafe in Toronto, circa 2007

Oxygen Deprivation

While the cannabis vapor contains no tars or carcinogens (it is mostly cannabinoids, particularly THC), holding your inhale does nothing more than deprive your brain of oxygen (decidedly not a good thing for those of you wondering).

Damn. I hate doing things the wrong way. I feel like I’ve been duped by an ignorant underground produced by prohibition.

When I first consumed cannabis at the age of 14 behind the garage of a school buddy (now a conservative pastor in the Midwest with a dedicated flock; ahhh, the ironies of life), it was drawing on a duck tail joint that either he or one of his bad sheep cousins had rolled.

And what did he tell me? “Pull it in and hold your breath.” It was the beginning of a couple of hundred thousand misdirected inhales.

But I didn’t need him to tell me. Cheech & Chong and countless Hollywood memes made things perfectly clear: Hold your breath or you won’t get the most from your precious, expensive, and all-too-often difficult-to-find herbal medicine.


Almost Immediate THC Absorption

First, absorption of cannabinoids and terpenes within the lungs is basically immediate. Like a few milliseconds. I wouldn’t BS you. Dr. Aggarwal is one of the foremost cannabis medical experts in the world and actually went to medical school and got a Ph.D. and tons of challenging things you and I did not. It’s why I like to talk to him.


Dr. Sunil Aggarwal, M.D., Ph.D., lecturing at the Cannabis Health Summit, Jan. 23, 2016

For the second part of how we’re all doing the inhalation of our cannabis smoke and vapor wrong, stay tuned and subscribe to this blog.

And while you’re at it, learn more than the prohibitionists and Luddites who you dislike telling you what to do—or what not to do. They aren’t going to give up easily. In fact, I don’t think people like Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush will ever give up….

This is a culture war, so gear up.

[For my full article on this topic, click here.]

All text and photos Copyright © 2003-2018 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a senior technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed feature articles to magazines such as High Times, MERRY JANE,, CannaBiz Journal, Emerald MagazineSKUNK, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Cannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, Twelve High Chicks, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.



5 thoughts on “Toking: You’re Doing It Wrong

  1. Pingback: Cannabis for Performance Enhancement? | Gooey Rabinski

  2. Pingback: Preaching to the Converted | Gooey Rabinski

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