Vape pens are one of the most popular cannabis products on the market right now, and not only because they’re discreet and easy to transport. Vaporizing is also proven to be healthier than combusting, or regular smoking. This is because it burns the botanicals at a lower temperature. With this change in temperature, we inhale more cannabinoids and terpenes and less carcinogens and harmful additives. As such, vaporizing can also create a much more flavorful hit than ripping a bong with a lighter or hitting a joint because the temps preserve the oils natural terpene profile.
Most times vapor cartridges are filled with CO2 oil and sometimes added terpenes. CO2 is a solvent that is used to strip away high concentrates of cannabinoids. It often comes out highly viscous which makes it bad for dabbing but is also an ideal extract for vape pens. The catch is that in order to make the oil vape evenly it often needs to be mixed with an additive. In some cases, PEGs (polyethylene glycols), glycerin, MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) and other chemicals are used to liquefy the extractions.
When heated to a certain temperature these once harmless chemicals can turn into harmful additives. The most commonly used cutting agents with popular vape companies are propylene glycol and glycerin. When heated to a certain temperature these popular vape additives can be converted to formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acrolein; all known to be toxic when inhaled.
MCT oil (including coconut oil) can sound like an attractive solution to the ugly picture that we’ve just painted about PEGs and glycerin. Unfortunately, it too has its downside. Inhaling MCT oils can lead to lipid pneumonia, a condition where fat deposits form in our lungs which causes serious breathing issues. The problem with giving an inhalable product of this nature to patients with a compromised immune system should be obvious now. But products cut with harmful additives are persistently sold in cannabis markets all around the world.
In the United States, for example, there are no FDA (Federal Department of Agriculture) regulations in place since the federal government still regards cannabis as a Schedule I drug. Because of this, there have been no FDA regulations for cannabis product additives. This has led to a bounty of different cutting agents getting into the hands of patients and recreational users through their beloved ‘healthy’ vape pens.
This doesn’t and shouldn’t have to happen in Canada. We are within one year of recreational cannabis, and in that time there should be rules put into place on vape cartridge manufacturing. Hopefully, all of the provinces will follow Nova Scotia in holding public consultations where the citizens have a chance to speak to their needs regarding cannabis laws. Because it is at these forums that Canadians will be able to speak their mind regarding what additives they want their products manufactured with and tested for.
Ask questions and know your product to ensure your cannabis vape pens/cartridges aren’t cut with harmful additives.