QUESTION: Why does inhaling cannabis make you cough? 

ANSWER: Some strains (types) of marijuana have a Terpenoid (essential oil) called A-Pinene that is a bronchodilator. These strains will smell and taste like pine. A-Pinene will cause a cleansing cough, where the thick mucus in your airways become watery and make it possible to have a productive cough. This is a healthy cough. 

Reasons that are not so healthy are listed below. 

  1. Too large of an inhalation. Marijuana and hemp both expand in your lungs. If you inhale too much at once and it expands beyond what your lungs can hold you will cough it out. It is suggested that you only inhale a small amount of marijuana then inhale a lot of air. There is no need to hold your breath for a length of time as the longer you hold it the more the medicine expands. 
  1. Liquid marijuana made for inhaling vapor is commonly made with PG or PEG as a carrier. Polyglycol and Polyethylene Glycol are known to be a lung irritant, that makes people cough. PG and PEG are known to be in all types of health and beauty products. In my opinion it does not belong in your lungs. A healthy vape liquid would be made with VG (Vegetable Glycerin). VG is water soluble and so are your lungs. I make mine at home soaking VG with my hemp or cannabis flowers for up to 12 weeks. It is potent enough to start using at 8 weeks and let the remaining soak until you need it. VG vape liquid is difficult to find in a dispensary.  
  1. Some plant growers will use a “bud enhancer” the last two weeks before harvest to make the buds aka flowers larger. Sometimes this is just sugar water other options are chemical compounds. Both types are not so lung friendly once you put heat to the plant. Every dispensary has a chemical analysis sheet on all products for sale. You have a right to see the analysis, just ask. If you are having coughing issues you can also ask for organic marijuana for inhalation.  
  1. If you use a butane or torch type lighter, the butane and the excessive heat can cause a cough. While lighting your marijuana you are inhaling butane and 1972 degrees of heat. A healthier way is to use your lighter to light hemp rope that has been dipped in bees wax then use the hemp rope low flame to light your inhalable, pipe, joint, bong, etc. 
  1. Mold in your bud or flowers can cause you to cough. When you squeeze your bud or flower, it should not turn to a powder. If it does turn to powder, you can bet it has mold in it. When you open the package smell your product. Mold is often detected by the nose and is visible with the naked eye, a jeweler’s loupe or magnifying glass. If your dispensary is selling moldy products, you can file a compliant online at On the left side are links and you will find one there that says, “File a complaint”.  

Get to know your products and don’t just trust manufactures. Inhaling plants have gone on for thousands of years. Inhalation is capable of healing your lungs from other toxins based on studies by Harvard University and the Institute of Health in 2012. 

Submitted by MJ Consulting LLC your “One Stop” Marijuana and Hemp Community Resource Center, where the locals go for information and education. 8540 E. State Rt. 69, Prescott Valley, AZ. Phone 928-772-2011 M-F 10-6 pm. There is no marijuana at this facility. This article is for information only and is not intended to be medical or legal advice.