Recently, there has been a ton of news coverage surrounding vaporizers and the upsurge of EVALI, also known as e-cigaretteor vaping product use-associated lung injury. In an effort to curb new cases of the disease from emerging, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts even went so far as to ban all e-cigarette and vaporizer devices throughout the state, although this ban was later repealed in favor of new, strict laws and regulations set in place for both THC and nicotine vaporizer devices.
For those who use cannabis therapeutically, the idea that their medicine may worsen their health may be quite upsetting. However, it is crucial to note the significant difference between dry herb or “flower” vaporizers and oil pen “vaporizers” which commonly use disposable oil cartridges. In this article Massachusetts medical marijuana doctor Jordan Tishler will break down the causes of EVALI and explain why some methods of vaporization are safer than others.
How Vape Pens Work
Vaporizing relies on heat to liberate the medicinal chemicals in cannabis into a vapor which can be inhaled. Vape pens use a cheap battery and a simple heating element to turn a cannabis oil or solid into gas to be breathed.
The temperature is crucial: it must be hot enough to liberate those medicines, but only a bit higher than ideal and we start to get noxious byproducts that can, at least theoretically, be dangerous to your health. The range between ideal vaping and too hot is very narrow, and most devices are simply not smart enough to maintain the correct temperature.
What Causes EVALI and Can Vaping Cause It?
The Centers for Disease Control, or the CDC, has identified vitamin E acetate, a common ingredient found in beauty products, as the main cause of concern among people with EVALI. Often used in skincare products as a thickening agent, vitamin E acetate was found in all of the samples of lung fluid that the CDC examined in EVALI patients, and has since been determined to be the primary cause of the disease that recently swept across the nation.
As many as 16% of EVALI patients bought their oil pens solely from legal sources – so buying from a dispensary is not necessarily safe. Although none of the cartridges distributed by medical dispensaries in Massachusetts have tested positive for vitamin E acetate, a number of them did test positive for other additives like MCT oil and propylene glycol, both of which are harmful. Additionally, many of these cartridges tested positive for lead. Hence, patients are strongly advised against using oil cartridges.
Massachusetts law now mandates all dispensary cartridges be tested for vitamin E acetate and lead, among other things, but there are still some problems with cartridge-style and refillable concentrate devices — namely they actually burn, not vaporize, the material. Even though some manufacturers claim that their devices offer multiple temperature settings, this feature is inaccurate, and generally, those who use these devices are still experiencing combustion, which completely defeats the purpose of using a vaporizer in the first place.
Is Vaping CBD Safe?
InhaleMD has written extensively on why using cannabidiol, also known as CBD, as a means of treatment tends to be ineffective, except in the case of certain types of epilepsy. Vaping CBD is no different. Although trace amounts of CBD is found naturally in most cannabis material and is critical to the benefit of cannabis, marijuana containing solely CBD will likely not bring much relief. Most CBD comes as an oil to either be consumed orally, vaped, or applied topically. While Jordan Tishler recommends doing none of these things, but vaping CBD oil just introduces more risk from exposure to chemicals and/or products of combustion. These products can be found at many smoke shops, convenient stores, and even “health” shops, but they should be avoided. CBD oil cartridges, especially those bought outside licensed dispensaries, rarely contain the amount of CBD advertised, if at all. Worse, many of these cartridges have tested positive for additives like vitamin E acetate, lead, and other dangerous additives and residues. Therefore, Jordan Tishler never recommends vaping CBD and would advise anyone to stay away from products marketed as CBD oil.
Turning Towards Safer Methods of Vaporization and Cannabis Consumption
As noted above, there are many downsides of using oil pens. It is important to reiterate that there is a large difference between those devices and true vaporizers that are solely designed to accurately heat cannabis flower. Flower vaporizers are often a bit larger than a “pen” because they have a microprocessor “brain” that actually measures the temperature of marijuana and maintains the proper temperature without going above the setting.
Medical marijuana doctor Jordan Tishler strongly urges his patients to use a cannabis flower vaporizer, which heats marijuana to a temperature sufficient to activate its cannabinoids, but does not reach a temperature hot enough to burn the raw plant material. In addition, these devices allow the user to carefully and accurately control the temperature settings. Stay tuned for an upcoming article on vaping temperatures!
The bottom line is that devices that solely vaporize raw cannabis material tend to not only be effective, but they are ultimately far safer than both oil and smoking.
If you are unsure of which method of cannabis consumption is best for you, or if you would like to learn more about marijuana flower vaporization and which temperature you should be setting your device to, it is recommended to consult with a physician who has extensive experience helping patients use cannabis therapeutically.
Contact Boston Medical Marijuana Doctor Jordan Tishler
Those who are considering using a dry herb vaporizer or any method of marijuana consumption may benefit from a consultation with a licensed medical cannabis specialist. Jordan Tishler is a Boston medical marijuana doctor who has spent years helping patients use cannabis as medicine, and can help determine if using cannabis alongside conventional treatments may be beneficial for you. For more information, or to set up a consultation with the medical cannabis team at InhaleMD, call (617) 8618519 today.