With the rise in marijuana’s popularity – both for medication and recreation – and advancements in technology, vaporizer pens have become more and more ubiquitous among those who use cannabis. The reasons for this are pretty clear: vape pens are small, discreet, and allow you to consume cannabis with almost no odor.

Are vape pens the best vehicle for using marijuana, though? Are they even safe for the average consumer? Continue reading as the medical marijuana experts at InhaleMD explain how vape pens may put users in danger.

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.

Are Vape Pens Dangerous?

Vape pens and oils are not rigorously tested against safety standards. As with many unregulated, cheaply made products, vape pens can represent a real danger to the user.

Leaving aside the occasional report of catastrophic battery failure in these devices leading to explosions, vape pens pose three major risks to users:

  1. Dose – Without any standard, vape pens may produce varying doses per puff (or toke if you prefer) ranging from small to huge. This makes it hard to predict how to dose a patient for consistent and reliable benefit. Furthermore, it is easy to get more than you need leading to bad experiences and increased risk of dependence.
  2. Retained Solvents – Some concentrates are made using toxic chemicals to extract the medicine from the plant material.  Unless done with great care, this can lead to retained solvents that patients will inhale along with the medicine.  These can be quite dangerous and must be avoided.  Certain intentional additives used to make the vape work better (called diluents) can pose a health risk as well (including terpenes derived from cannabis itself).
  3. Products of Combustion – If the device has no temperature control or has controls that use time and voltage instead of actually measuring the temperature at the heating element, they are likely to overheat the material and produce carcinogens.

Other Methods of Ingesting Cannabis

Although vape pens may be dangerous and especially unhealthy, there are many other methods by which a person can ingest cannabis to achieve similar or improved results. Vaporizing the marijuana flower is the safest and most effective approach in use by inhalation.  This is because the flower it more readily tested for safety and the vaporizers are usually more sophisticated, allowing for reliable temperature control and avoiding any products of combustion. Inhalation, as we’ve mentioned before, is best for acute or episodic illnesses like nausea and vomiting, or headaches.

In contrast, oral ingestion – the consumption of edibles containing cannabinoids – lasts far longer, making it ideal for extended relief from things like chronic pain. Tinctures and capsules are far less effective than edibles, since only about half as much of the drug is actually absorbed. Still, those looking to use oral ingestion as a means of delivery should rely on low-calorie products like gummies, rather than unhealthy brownies or cupcakes.

Turn to the Specialists in Medical Marijuana for Safe, Effective Results

Like any drug, the use of medical marijuana should be overseen by a qualified health care specialist. Dr. Jordan Tishler and the team at InhaleMD are the premier cannabis experts in Massachusetts. With years of experience in the medical field, the doctors at InhaleMD stand ready to help you make the best decision for your condition or illness. To learn more, call us today at (617) 861-8519.