Cannabis might be ingested in a number of ways, but the most famous route of administration remains via smoking or inhaling the drug. Cannabis items are usually smoked (with or without tobacco) either through a pipe or in the form of a cigarette (also known as a ‘joint’). The pipes come in a vast array of sizes and forms but usually have long stems or add a ‘hookah-type’ water filtration system (i.e., water pipe) and are often known as a ‘bong’. When a water pipe is utilized, cannabis smoke is cooled by the water in an attempt to reduce its harshness and temperature, which may scald the throat (Booth, 2003).
Little studies have been conducted into the specific harms associated with smoking cannabis using a water pipe or bong. Few studies examining cannabis use, aside from those concerning the medical utilization of the drug, have differentiated between the various methods of delivery (i.e., smoking via joints or water pipes, ingesting in food) and little is known regarding distinct administration routes, their relationship to drug use patterns, and related harms.
In recent years, we have seen a resurgence in popularity in using hookahs or ‘shisha’ to Smoketools, particularly flavoured tobacco products. The ancient Middle Eastern water pipe has become widely smoked around the world, particularly by students and teenagers. Because of the usage of healthy-sounding fruit flavouring and also the social way it is almost always used (i.e., in restaurants and cafes), it is usually viewed as a ‘safer’ option to cigarettes. As a result of this recent popularity, there has been an increasing amount of research conducted examining the harms associated with the use of the shisha.
This bulletin will examine the origin in the water pipe and what we know about the harms related to smoking cannabis by way of a bong, particularly in comparison to other routes of administration. As the research is limited in this field, an study of the current evidence with regards to the harms associated with water pipe tobacco smoking is included in addition to consideration of how this info can be used in cannabis prevention activities.
Origins from the water pipe – The use of water in a smoking apparatus is ancient, with Persian hookahs or ‘narghiles’ illustrative samples of early smoking water pipes (Erickson, Jarvie & Miller, 1977). In their 1997 US patent for the ‘improved smoking water pipe or bong’, the authors describe the procedure the following – “… smoke from the substance being combusted is directed via a tube discharging below the surface of water in a potlike container before passing therefrom through a second tube to the mouth in the smoker.”
Where the water pipe actually originated is unclear, although there is increasing evidence to suggest that bongs were first used to smoke cannabis in Africa. Based on the archaeological evidence available at the time of writing, Phillips (1983) hypothesised that cannabis was smoked in water pipes in eastern and southern Africa before the development of tobacco. He believed that the discovery in Ethiopia of water pipe bowls, “definitely linked to the smoking of cannabis”, tends bqlsqo confirm speculation of your African origin from the water pipe. Others believe they originated in China or Persia, but in such cases the instruments were thought to be utilized to smoke tobacco.
The term ‘bong’ is an adaptation of the Thai word baung, which identifies a cylindrical pipe or tube cut from bamboo. One of many earliest recorded uses of the word within the West is within the McFarland Thai-English Dictionary, published in 1944, which describes one of the meanings of ‘bong’ within the Thai language as, “a bamboo water pipe for smoking kancha, tree, hashish, or the hemp-plant.” Erickson and colleagues (1977) believe that it is this version which includes probably influenced the design of the current devices that add a “general cylindrical tubular construction”, with tubes of plastic as well as other modern materials replacing the hollow bamboo stem that was used before. Their description of methods this type of water pipe works is really as follows:
“The oriental bong, further, provides means for using atmospheric air to dilute the smoke before inhalation, in addition to provided oxygen for your combustion producing the smoke. Thus, an air admitting orifice continues to be provided venting the smoke chamber formed in the bamboo stem above the water in the bottom in the stem. The orifice is finger controllable, to ensure that air may at the desire in the smoker be either excluded or admitted directly to the smoke chamber so as to dilute the smoke therein.”
A bong used to smoke cannabis is comparable to a conventional hookah in both construction and function, except it will always be smaller and much more portable. The hole in the stem described above, often referred to as the ‘carburator’, ‘shotty’ or simply ‘hole’, is normally kept covered throughout the smoking process, then opened to allow the smoke to get drawn in to the respiratory system in an effort to maximise the impact.