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Cannabis vaping gained a bad reputation in the last six months or so. The global cannabis vape market is still expanding, but its growth has been affected by the U.S. vape crisis.
Politicians and journalists around the world blamed cannabis vaping for the health crisis that affected over 2,500 people last year, but should they treat tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) the same way? Let’s take a look at some of the differences between THC and CBD vaping in the wake of the vaping crisis.
Cannabis enthusiasts in the U.S. have been vaping THC for at least seven years. Back in 2012, Chris Folkerts founded Grenco Science, the company behind the G Pen — one of the first handheld vaping devices compatible with THC-infused cartridges.
The G Pen was an instant sensation in hip hop culture. Rappers like Wiz Khalifa and Open Mike Eagle wrote lyrics about using the G Pen. Snoop Dogg had his own line of G Pens, and he even recorded a video explaining how to use them.
As you can imagine, the popularity of THC vapes skyrocketed from there. At one point, even state authorities believed vaping THC is better than smoking cannabis for medical cannabis patients.
In 2017, Florida’s state laws prohibited medical cannabis users from smoking whole flower products but they allowed users to vape ground cannabis plant material. The laws also allowed users to consume cannabis oils or other derivatives that could be inhaled by vaping.
Why is vaping THC preferable to smoking cannabis flowers?
You might be wondering why cannabis enthusiasts and state authorities prefer vaping THC over smoking cannabis.
Well, the authorities prohibit smoking of cannabis flowers because lighting up and burning the flowers can form carcinogens that can reach the users’ lungs. Even though cannabis and tobacco smoke are not equally carcinogenic, cannabis and tobacco smoke contain many of the same tumour promoters.
Vaporizers are specially designed to release the cannabinoids in the plant material by heating it up without burning it. Therefore, the cannabis vapour that reaches the users’ lungs is free of burnt carcinogens.
And that is what happens when you vape ground cannabis flower, so vaping THC cartridges might be even safer. The THC present in those cartridges is extracted and diluted to have the same potency in every product, and the cartridges do not contain any harmful chemicals.
Other benefits of THC vaping
Vaping is a convenient way of consuming cannabis. Many vape pens are small and slim, and they fit in pockets or purses. The vapor they release is often odorless, or it can have specific flavours, from banana to buttercream and everything in between. In addition, since many people vape nicotine, using a vape pen to consume cannabis does not attract unwanted attention.
THC and the American vape crisis
When the U.S. vape crisis first started, journalists and health experts claimed that vaping caused it. As time went by and more information came to life, it seemed that THC vaping was responsible for the respiratory distress syndrome experienced by so many Americans.
But the investigation led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) showed that the main culprit behind the vape crisis was not THC but an additive called vitamin E acetate.
That being said, many of the people who experienced health problems during the vape crisis consumed THC. However, the investigation revealed they consumed counterfeit products that somehow made their way to the market.
How to safely vape THC
You should never vape any products that might come from illicit or dubious sources. You should make sure that the product you’re about to vape comes from a well-established, renowned manufacturer.
You should also take a look at the vape cartridges’ ingredients list. Most of the renowned manufacturers only use three cutting agents for their products. These cutting agents are:
- Polyethylene glycol (PEG) — PEG has multiple medical, commercial and industrial applications. Vape juice companies use it to keep the product evenly mixed and to increase the product’s vapour production.
- Propylene glycol (PG) — PG is commonly used in the pharmaceutical and food industries. In vape cartridges, PG promotes even draws or puffs.
- Vegetable glycerin (VG) — VG is often used in the food, pharmaceutical and beauty industries. VG is included in vape cartridges because it increases the size of the vapour clouds.
Your lungs can tolerate these cutting agents. You should avoid vaping anything that includes other substances (except flavours).
CBD vaping gained a lot of popularity over the last few years, and it’s now one of the most popular ways of consuming CBD. Even though most experts agree that CBD is safe and can improve your wellbeing, CBD vaping faced its fair share of controversy — mainly because of the poorly regulated vaping markets in the U.S. and the EU.
CBD is legal in both the U.S. and Europe, with plenty of companies like CBD Planet UK providing CBD to interested users, but local authorities do little to regulate the market. The authorities might forbid vape cartridges containing more than 0.2 percent of CBD from entering the market, but they’re not testing the products to see if they contain harmful additives. And this lax approach can have tragic consequences.
In 2018, the U.S. Army banned all CBD oil products because more than 60 people showed up in emergency rooms with signs of mental distress, loss of consciousness, agitation, and seizures after vaping CBD.
Most of the patients admitted to vaping CBD before, so they might have vaped counterfeit cartridges. An investigation showed that counterfeit CBD products might contain illegal substances, such as synthetic marijuana.
In 2019, the 18-year-old Raphaël Pauwaert from Brussels died after developing pneumonia from vaping CBD. Raphaël’s CBD oil was tested positive for vitamin E.
Why people vape CBD
The CBD industry is booming. Nowadays, you can find CBD in everything from oil to chocolate and gummy bears. So you might be wondering why people prefer vaping it.
Well, vaping is subtle so you can consume CBD without attracting attention. Vaping can also be considered fashionable in certain social circles, especially in the U.S., where more than 1 in 4 teenagers vape.
Last but not least, vaping CBD produces its effects quicker than eating it. The CBD in the vapor is absorbed by the blood vessels in your lungs, so it bypasses your liver. As a result, you experience the effects of CBD much faster than you would by eating it.
CBD and the U.S. vape crisis
About 1 percent of the people who ended up in hospitals during the vape crisis admitted to vaping CBD exclusively. However, the CDC investigation concluded that the CBD cartridges the patients consumed contained vitamin E acetate.
How to safely vape CBD
Always make sure that your CBD comes from a reliable, renowned source. Even though most of the vaping cartridges involved in the vaping crisis contained THC, not CBD, Raphaël Pauwaert’s case shows that counterfeit CBD products can also contain harmful additives and that some of them reached the European market.
Read the ingredients list and make sure that your cartridge doesn’t contain anything but CBD, PEG, PG, VG and flavours.
The safety of THC and CBD vaping
Although vaping got a bad reputation in 2019, it’s still mostly harmless if you know what to look for when buying your cartridges. Also, the CDC investigated the problem but found that cases were declining from September 2019 onwards.
As the cannabis industry expands and becomes more popular, counterfeiters are trying to make a quick profit by scamming people into buying inferior products. Make sure you only consume cannabis products that come from legal, reputable sources.