What You Need to Know Before Vaping CBD

Tina Magrabi
Tina Magrabi - Content Writer

Aug 31 2021 - 7 min read

CBD has various potential health benefits and could be a powerful treatment for several ailments, including depression, anxiety and epilepsy. If you walk into a store to shop for vaping products, you will come across a wide variety of options for vaping CBD. But are CBD vaping products safe?

The New York Department of Health has issued a statement telling patients to avoid using disposable vaporizers and vape pens due to potential lung injuries. California has done the same, and Missouri has banned vape pens. Dispensaries in Washington are required to warn customers of the injuries and deaths associated with vaping.

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Why Is Vaping Dangerous?

The main culprit seems to be the addition of Vitamin E Acetate to vape pens in THC products, in particular from black market sources. Products that are used to “cut” the hemp or cannabis concentrate to make it usable in a vape pen are of primary concern, and can potentially be found even in legitimate sources. Therefore, it is essential to purchase all cannabis products from a licensed dispensary.

Added to these issues is the lack of research into the long-term effects of vaping, and it is not surprising that many states are taking the “better safe than sorry” approach.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) also released an overview of the situation regarding vaping products:

“CDC, FDA, and state health authorities have made progress in identifying the cause of EVALI. [EVALI stands for ‘e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury’]”

The CDC information also says:

  • Emergency department (ED) visits related to e-cigarette, or vaping, products continue to decline, after sharply increasing in August 2019 and peaking in September of that same year.
  • National and state data from patient reports and product sample testing show tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products, particularly from informal sources like friends, family, or in-person or online dealers, are linked to most EVALI cases and play a major role in the outbreak.
  • Vitamin E acetate is strongly linked to the EVALI outbreak. Vitamin E acetate has been found in product samples tested by FDA and state laboratories and in patient lung fluid samples tested by CDC from geographically diverse states. Vitamin E acetate has not been found in the lung fluid of people that do not have EVALI.
  • Evidence is not sufficient to rule out the contribution of other chemicals of concern, including chemicals in either THC or non-THC products, in some of the reported EVALI cases.”

The CDC goes on to say:

“CDC and FDA recommend that people not use THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products, particularly from informal sources like friends, family, or in-person or online dealers.”

The CDC recommends that:

  • Vitamin E acetate should not be added to any e-cigarette, or vaping, products. Additionally, people should not add any other substances not intended by the manufacturer to products, including products purchased through retail establishments.
  • E-cigarette, or vaping, products (nicotine- or THC-containing) should never be used by youths, young adults, or women who are pregnant.
  • Adults who do not currently use tobacco products should not start using e-cigarette, or vaping, products.
  • THC use has been associated with a wide range of adverse health effects, particularly with prolonged frequent use. The best way to avoid potentially harmful effects is to not use THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products.
  • Persons engaging in ongoing cannabis use that leads to significant impairment or distress should seek evidence-based treatment by a healthcare professional.”

If you wish to vape CBD, here are some things you should know about these products beforehand.

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Vaping Buds and Oil

When it comes to vaping CBD, you can choose direct sources, such as the flower or go for CBD oils (full-spectrum and isolates are available, and a good-quality CBD oil is likely to essentially be a concentrate of the cannabis or hemp bud, with no extras). For your buds, you need to choose a flower or bud vaporizers that are slightly more powerful. They have a different system of heating, as they directly heat the buds to deliver the vapor. Vaporizing concentrates requires a different type of vaporizer to one that heats buds/flower.

Vaping buds could also be an uncomfortable experience compared to the smoothness of vaping CBD oil. Flowers and buds may have lower concentrates of CBD when compared to oils or tinctures. But the chances of losing essential terpenes and cannabinoids during the heating process are less in comparison to CBD oil isolates. An important point to remember about choosing CBD buds is that there is likely going to be a trace of THC present in them, unlike the isolated CBD oil choices you can make. So, CBD buds might give you a mild high, which is not necessarily the case with CBD oil isolates.

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Are CBD Oil and CBD Vape Oil Different?

One of the most common mistakes users make while choosing the product to vape is confusing CBD vape oil with CBD oil. There are differences between the two products, which are essential to understand before choosing a product.

CBD oil is a pure product derived from hemp or cannabis. Its preparation involves only the raw concentrate of hemp or cannabis, and is useful for consuming orally such as in the case of a tincture. The oil is too dense to suit the vaping mechanism, which is why it is not a good idea to use CBD oil directly for vaping.

CBD vape liquid or oil is a chemical preparation available in vape cartridges designed for vaping. They contain certain additives apart from CBD oil that make it appropriate for your vape pens or modules. However, you must be careful with these additives, as they are the main concern for lung injuries. Therefore, one of the best ways to vaporize is to find a high-quality, well-built wax or concentrate vaporizer designed to heat raw, unadulterated cannabis or hemp wax/concentrate. Vape pens made by legitimate companies for legitimate dispensaries are tested and have fewer health problems associated with them, but they are still a concern to the CDC and many states’ health departments.

The origin of the CBD vape oil you are planning to use is critical: The source of your CBD oil helps determine the purity and the legal standpoint of the product. Hemp-derived CBD is so far the most legal source as it contains a higher concentration of CBD and little-to-no THC, whereas marijuana-derived oils are more likely to contain traces of THC, which might influence the legal status of the product you use.

Safety of CBD Products

CBD and cannabis are both relatively new to the market. This fact is among the primary reasons behind the presence of tainted products on the black market that might compromise the safety and benefits of the products. Tainted with other chemicals and vitamin oil, many CBD vape juices and oils leave the customers with doubt, especially given that most customers are experiencing them for the first time.

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Hence, when it comes to buying CBD oil in the USA or Canada (or indeed anywhere in the world), it is always best to trust authorized vendors and shops. Products available in such outlets are certified and lab-tested to ensure efficiency and safety. There have been few reports of injuries or illnesses stemming from legal products, but there have been some.

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Choosing a CBD Vape Product

Should you decide to vape CBD, the first choice to make before you narrow down a product is to choose among:

  • Full-spectrum CBD
  • Broad-spectrum CBD
  • CBD isolate.

Full-spectrum CBD products contain the complete profile of cannabinoids, terpenes, and various other compounds of the cannabis plant. Full-spectrum is among the best categories to choose for wide applications and health benefits. The products contain a very low level of THC and dominant levels of CBD presence. Compared to the other categories, CBD full-spectrum delivers better benefits as cannabis works best in unison (the entourage effect”). The presence of other cannabinoids helps elevate each other’s effect, which is particularly beneficial to the user.

The next category is a broad-spectrum that contains all cannabinoids except for THC. It is the best choice of product for users looking to avoid THC completely. The entourage effect in the case of the broad-spectrum is quite powerful, just as in the case of the full-spectrum.

CBD isolate is the least recommended CBD product but is also a potential choice when it comes to focused medications or for users who are allergic to terpenes or cannabinoids. It delivers a converged benefit possible only from CBD and has no aroma or flavor, unlike the other two categories. Choosing the right category will help you narrow down the products most suitable for you.

However, bear in mind that such products are more likely to contain contaminants. The safest option is to use a well-built vaporizer and cannabis extract.

There are many options for concentration when you choose CBD for vaping. Again, the purpose of using CBD determines the right concentration most suitable for you. It also determines the dosage levels advisable for the best potential health benefits.

A typical CBD oil product with about 100 milligrams of CBD delivers anywhere between 1-2 milligrams of CBD per puff. It is a minimal dosage for novice users and a good place to start. You can slowly increase your dosage levels based on how your body reacts to the presence of CBD. You can lock in the dosage levels when you begin to see positive benefits. Remember to assess the concentration of the product per puff properly before you begin consuming it.

Vape Pens from Licensed Dispensaries

Even with licensed cannabis dispensaries, there is still a lack of regulation in the hemp-derived CBD market. Some so-called “CBD” products contain synthetic versions of CBD (used because they are cheaper, with some reports stating that up to 1-in-3 CBD products may contain synthetic cannabinoids ), which are potentially far more dangerous (and untested) than their naturally-derived counterparts. Some of the products tested had no CBD at all! Companies making such products are bordering on the legal and illegal, and the unrestricted hemp market means they can fly in under the radar and make a quick buck out of this lack of regulation.

Bottom Line on Vape Pens

We here at Leafwell have often been concerned with the quality of vape pens in terms of build, as well as the use of synthetic cannabinoids. There are many products, even some apparently legitimate ones, where the packaging is mislabelled, contain ingredients that are potentially damaging or fatal when heated and vaped, or even contain ingredients that they shouldn’t. Essentially, the potential for mislabelling and contamination is huge. A 2017 study looking at 84 products found that vaporization liquid was the most frequently mislabelled, with 87.5% of products vaporizable products mislabelled.

Our conclusion? Listen to the various states’ health departments, and keep a critical eye on vaping products, in particular disposable vape pens. We would also say to generally avoid using these products, as they could be mislabelled or even be an illegal duplicate of a product that is legitimate.

If you wish to vaporize, perhaps the safest way at the moment is to buy a good quality vaporizer, and use either raw flower/bud or untampered concentrate from a legitimate dispensary. The vape pens at these dispensaries may also be of better quality than illegal vape pens (which may be sold in an illegal dispensary) or unregulated, hemp-derived CBD vape pens found in all sorts of stores and shops (e.g. smoke or vape shops, liquor stores), but even these have been shown to have problems. Many states have also restricted and/or warned against vape pens, so in some instances they won’t even be available in any legitimate dispensary.

As you do your research, reach out to a qualified physician at Leafwell and apply for your medical cannabis card today.

Guest article by Rebecca S of CBDfx; edited by Leafwell

Written by
Tina Magrabi
Tina Magrabi

Tina Magrabi is a writer and editor specializing in holistic health. She has written hundreds of articles for Weedmaps where she spearheaded the Ailments series on cannabis medicine. In addition, she has written extensively for the women's health blog, SafeBirthProject, as well as print publications including Destinations Magazine and Vero's Voice. Tina is a Yale University alumna and certified yoga instructor with a passion for the outdoors.

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