Thanks for posting! It’s a great question and one that many individuals are curious about, especially given the rise in vaping popularity. Vaping cannabis, which involves heating the flower without combustion, is generally perceived as a safer alternative to smoking because it doesn’t produce the harmful tar and carcinogens that come with burning plant material. However, “safer” does not equate to “risk-free.” Here are a few things to consider:
- Vaporized Compounds: When cannabis is vaped, the heat can cause the release of compounds not found when using other consumption methods. Depending on the type of device, some of the material being vaped might be heated to warmer temperatures than other parts, leading to a spectrum of possible effects. While these are fewer and in lower amounts than when smoking, their long-term effects are still being studied.
- Temperature Matters: The temperature at which you vaporize can play a role in the compounds that are released. Different cannabinoids and terpenes vaporize at different temperatures. Overly high temperatures can also degrade or mutate cannabinoids and terpenes, potentially producing harmful compounds (such as napthalene, toluene, benzene derivatives, carbon monoxide, tar, ash, others…)
- Vitamin E Acetate: There have been recent concerns about an additive called Vitamin E acetate, which has been linked to a number of lung injuries in the U.S. While this is mainly associated with illicit-market THC vape cartridges (home-grown, street-made products) and not flower vaping or products sold at dispensaries, it’s essential to be aware and cautious about the source of your cannabis products.
- Vaping Devices: The type of device and its quality can also play a significant role. Some vaporizers might heat the cannabis unevenly, while others could potentially release harmful materials from the device itself.
- Lung Health: While vaping is less irritating than smoking, some people may still experience throat or lung irritation, especially with frequent use. Chronic use can potentially lead to issues like chronic bronchitis symptoms, though research is ongoing.
- Research: It’s crucial to note that vaping, as a consumption method, hasn’t been around as long as traditional smoking. Thus, long-term studies are still in their early stages.
In summary, while vaping flower might reduce some of the risks associated with combustion, it is not without its potential hazards. As with any substance, moderation is key. Always consult with an expert (hopefully at CED Clinic!) if you have concerns about your personal health and cannabis use. Warm regards, Dr. Caplan