IN THIS ARTICLE YOU’LL LEARN
- Is vaping really dangerous?
- The benefits of vaping cannabis
- The four things to look for in a quality and safe vape cartridge
- How to tell a counterfeit vape
- What to look for in a vape device
- The truth about teenage vaping
- Is vaping for you?
Recent news stories have brought dramatic attention to health concerns of vaping, which cause many to wonder whether vaping is safe and why some still choose to vape at all.
First, it’s important to note the difference between cannabis vaping and e-cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes contain the same addictive ingredients in traditional cigarettes, without any of the health benefits of cannabis. Some smokers switch to vaping e-cigs with the intention to stop cigarette smoking, but John Hopkins Medical Journal says this switch is ineffective and equally damaging to the lungs.
Further, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have identified a key ingredient, whether an e-cigarette or cannabis vape, that is “strongly linked” to the outbreak of what’s now labeled as EVALI, which stands for ‘e-cigarette or vaping use associated lung injury.’ That ingredient is vitamin E acetate, an additive used in some vape cartridges to make the oil the right consistency for vaping.
Vitamin E acetate naturally occurs in many vegetable oils, and is often used as a dietary supplement. However, when heated and inhaled, vaporized vitamin E acetate becomes a dangerous carcinogen. The CDC and FDA thus warn against vape cartridges that use vegetable oil, MCT oil, coconut oil, etcetera as an ingredient.
All O.pen cartridges have never, and will never, use Vitamin E acetate.
An investigation by The Washington Post identified black-market vape products as the central culprit behind vape related lung disease. Illegal vape dealers used dangerous vitamin E oil in their cartridges since it has a similar look and consistency to THC oil, making an ideal (but unhealthy) cutting agent. While vitamin E oil is one substance identified and called out by the CDC and FDA, illegal vape cartridges usually contain many harmful additives, including toxic chemicals and pesticides. Legal cannabis manufacturers, on the other hand, are required to regularly test their products with third party labs to ensure quality and purity.
Now that we understand the real danger associated with vaping, let’s objectively consider some of the benefits of vaping cannabis, and why many choose vaping as a preferred option.
Vaping cannabis has some unique benefits...some may even be surprising! Here’s four specific benefits to vaping cannabis:
- Quick absorption and faster effects
- Easy to control dose
- Strongest method for cannabinoids to ease nerve pain
- Convenient and easy
Quick absorption and faster effects. Among the most considerable benefits of vaping is quick absorption into the bloodstream. While edibles can take half an hour or more for the active ingredients to process, inhaled cannabis starts working right away. That time difference is critical for those using cannabis to relieve conditions such as chronic pain.
Easy to control dose. Another benefit of quick absorption that feeling effects immediately makes it easier to gauge how much to consume. The number one cause of an unpleasant cannabis experience is accidentally taking too much, and over-consuming THC is often the result of not sensing effects and subsequently feeling the need to “take a little more”...and that little more ends up being a little too much. In contrast, vaping allows the user to easily experiment in finding their perfect dose, even with unfamiliar strains.
Strongest method for cannabinoids to ease nerve pain. Inhaled cannabis is also processed differently by the body, making the beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes more available to different body systems than other methods. For example, scientific studies have shown that inhaled cannabis is significantly more effective at relieving neuropathic pain (pain caused by nerve function). While there are several options for inhaling cannabis, from traditional smoking to “dabbing,” vaping is much easier and more convenient. Vaping also causes less irritation, thanks to its lack of harmful smoke and ash.
Since inhaled cannabis has unique benefits, many cannabis users ‘layer’ their consumption methods, adding vaping to edibles, tinctures, etc. Vaping is also a good addition to a cannabis regimen as a ‘quick relief’ option. “When I started seeing a medical marijuana physician,” says a cannabis user in Florida, “my doctor suggested vaping as the first method I try since it would be easy and I could test what worked for me. My doctor also recommended keeping a vape pen on hand, even after I branched out and explored other methods, for access to quick relief.”
Convenient and easy. Additionally, vaping is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to consume cannabis. No need to invest in extensive (and expensive) equipment; simply choose a cartridge and a device. Vape pens are portable and discreet, making it even easier.
Ready to try vaping? Here’s what to look for in a cartridge and device to ensure the safest, most effective experience.
Here’s the four things you need to look for in a vape product:
Check the ingredients. As mentioned before, the purity of a vape cartridge is paramount. Check the ingredients label to make sure the cartridge contains no vitamin E oil, MCT oil, or fillers. Cannabis cartridges should contain pure cannabis oil and terpenes (natural essential oils from plants). The cannabinoid contents (such as THC and CBD) and terpene profile (such as myrcene or limonene) determine the taste and effects of a cartridge. No other ingredients are needed, so avoid cartridges that contain preservatives, fillers, or unnecessary additives and flavors.
Only buy from legitimate retailers. Since the quality and purity of ingredients cannot be guaranteed by black market dealers, it’s vital to only buy from licensed manufacturers. As mentioned earlier, unlicensed sellers are unregulated and maybe even put dangerous chemicals into their unchecked cartridges.
Avoid counterfeits. Buying from a safe and legal source may not be as simple as avoiding the street corner salesman. Counterfeit vape products are increasingly common, and increasingly deceptive. Chinese manufacturers closely study name brand cannabis companies and replicate their packaging. Empty cartridges are then filled with anything and everything, from simple cutting agents to chemicals to seemingly innocent vitamin E oil, which caused the recent vape crises. Even entire brick-and-mortar vape shops have been faked, complete with counterfeit licenses and charging sales tax “to seem more legit.”
If counterfeiting has become so good, how exactly can one tell if a vape product is real or not? Here’s two things to consider:
- Check the packaging. Look at the overall brand packaging, and specifically for the state-mandated cannabis warning icon to make sure it’s correct. Since counterfeiters are continually sneakier, this is not a foolproof method. However, if the package and labeling seems “off,” trust your instincts and pass on purchasing.
- Check the license. Cannabis businesses are required to register with their state, and most states publish that information on an official website. For example, California uses the Bureau of Cannabis Control and Florida uses the Office of Medical Marijuana Use. Check the legitimacy of a vape shop or dispensary with your state before making a purchase.
Stick to trusted brands. Samantha Miller, Chief Science Officer and founder of cannabis testing lab Pure Analytics, advises: “Stick to major brands. Look for brands that have been in existence for a number of years, that have an established reputation, and a significant presence on social media. These brands have a reputation to uphold...Unlike new brands or those in the illicit market, they can’t just ‘cut and run.’”
It would be wise to research even legitimate vape brands since many ingredients, although legal, may not be healthy. The effects of some fillers and additives are simply unknown, so ensure safety by sticking to simple, pure, and trusted ingredients.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A VAPE DEVICE (BATTERY)
One popular feature that has become the standard in vape devices is 510-threading. Learn more about this feature by reading Four Reasons People Love 510-Thread Batteries...And Everything Else You Need to Know About 510 Vape Batteries *Link to blog*, but the foremost reason why most people want 510-thread vape pens is that they are compatible with most cartridges and easy to use.
Another feature to look for in a quality device is the ability to control temperature. For example, O.pen’s 2.0 Battery allows users to easily choose which temperature they prefer. Lower temps allow subtle flavors to shine and deliver softer effects, while high temperatures offer bolder, more robust flavor and stronger effects.
It’s also important that a vape device comes with a satisfaction guarantee and warranty. O.pen’s Friend for Life warranty program guarantees our O.pen 2.0 Batteries against literally anything with a variety of convenient replacement options.
Another convenient feature of the O.pen 2.0 Battery is our Rapid Charge Mode. The standard charging time for vape pens is typically 30-45 minutes (or more), but a simple swipe of the finger activates Rapid Charge Mode and the O.pen will be fully charged in only 20 minutes or less!
Whatever features you may find personally important, be sure to choose a device from a trusted brand for a worry-free experience.
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While vaping’s discretion, convenience and potency are pros for adults, these benefits raise concerns that vaping will increase cannabis use in teenagers.
The 2019 Monitoring the Future (MTF) study found that marajuana vaping among teenagers has more than doubled over the past two years. Interestingly, the study also notes a correlation between this increase and a decline in underage drinking and tobacco, and other drugs (particularly opioids). One reason behind this shift is growing awareness of the dangers of cigarettes, underage drinking, and illicit drug use, while marajuana legalization and social acceptance spreads. As scientists and health professionals continue to tout the benefits of cannabis, it’s easily understandable why young adults may feel comfortable experimenting with marajuana vaping. While NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse) Director Dr. Nora Volkow is heartened by this declining use of more dangerous substances, the attraction of teens to vaping, including cannabis, is still a serious concern.
If vaping cannabis can be beneficial for adults, why would it be dangerous for teenagers? The key factor is quite simply age. The human brain is still developing into the early or mid-20s, and the region known as the frontal cortex--critical to planning, judgement, decision-making and personality development--is one of the last areas to mature, explains Staci Gruber, PhD, a neuroscientist and director of the Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Core and the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) Program at McLean Hospital of Harvard Medical School. Exposure to psychoactive substances before these areas are fully developed can negatively affect this neurodevelopment.
Further, the endocannabinoid system is also underdeveloped in teenagers. As noted earlier, the ECS controls a number of bodily systems from immune response to metabolism. The endocannabinoid system also plays a vital role in “cognition, neurodevelopment, stress response and emotional control,” says Krista Lisdahl, PhD, director of the Brain Imaging and Neuropsychology Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. If an immature endocannabinoid system is repeatedly exposed to marajuana, it can actually inhibit the ECS from functioning properly. Lisdahl says this helps explain “why adolescents may be more sensitive to the effects of repeated marijuana exposure, from a neuroscience perspective.”
With this understanding, drug education and abuse prevention has changed its message regarding marajuana, shifting from don’t to wait. Jennifer Grellman, a psychotherapist in Kentfield, California and the founder of Being Adept, sums up the strategy in three words, replacing the long-standing ‘Just Say No’ campaign with, ‘Delay, delay, delay.’ This approach more accurately presents the reasons why teenagers should wait, while not undermining the positive effects of cannabis.
Parents who use cannabis may wonder how to navigate encouraging their teen to wait while being open and honest about their own consumption. Grellman offers this advice for parents: "The way to handle that with your kids is to say: 'You know, you don't have to use this now. Maybe you want to use it someday, but not today, not now. It will always be there.' Just tell them to wait." Helping teens understand the importance of brain development encourages them to wait, while preparing them to make reasonable and responsible decisions about cannabis in the future.
The required legal age to purchase marajuana, both in states approved for recreational/general use and medical use only, is 21. While this age is strictly enforced by legal dispensaries, the underground market has no such restrictions. As discussed earlier, the vaping black market poses other dangers including unregulated quality and harmful additives--yet another reason to encourage teens to wait until legal age. Again, experts say that communication is the best tool for helping young adults avoid the dangers of early vaping.
IS VAPING FOR YOU?
With the various ways to consume cannabis, how do you know if vaping is the best method for you? Here’s a quick review of vaping’s benefits to compare with your needs and goals.
- Convenient, easy to use, and portable
- Faster effects than edibles
- Inhalation interacts differently with the neural system, which can mean feeling different effects
- Less irritation than traditional smoking, which can mean a more pleasurable experience
- Rich flavor without the combustion of smoking flower
O.pen offers a full line up of cannabis cartridges, whether one wants a consistent and repeatable experience or to explore unique flavors and strains. Whatever you’re looking for, O.pen has something for you, all backed by a trusted brand and happiness guarantee.
- New York Times: Vaping Illness Tracker
- Hopkins Medicine: Five Vaping Facts You Need to Know
- Center for Disease Control
- Efficacy of Inhaled Cannabis on Painful Diabetic Neuropathy
- American Lung Association
- Smoked Medicinal Cannabis for Neuropathic Pain in HIV: A Randomized, Crossover Clinical Trial
- Vaping of marijuana on the rise among teens
- American Psychology Association: Marijuana and the developing brain
- Age-related differences in the impact of cannabis use on the brain and cognition: a systematic review
- NPR: With The Rise Of Legal Weed, Drug Education Moves From 'Don't' to 'Delay'
- Maturation of the adolescent brain
- Smoked Medicinal Cannabis for Neuropathic Pain in HIV: A Randomized, Crossover Clinical Trial
- Washington Post: Potential culprits in mystery lung illnesses: Black-market vaping products
- Boston Herald: Vapes on black market may contain toxic chemicals, pesticides, harmful flavorings
- Leafly: How to spot a fake vape cartridge