It's common knowledge we don't actually know much about how vaping affects our bodies. Sure, extracting vapor doesn't create carcinogens, and it's a more effective way to get the most THC and other cannabinoids from your bud. However, the first disposable vape pen I tried burned my throat after a few rips, and some of my friends experienced headaches that had never happened after smoking flower.
With new laws enacted last month, recreational customers will soon be able to purchase oil and vape pens from dispensaries. I asked Marley Bankoff, founder of Eugene's Evolvd Organics, what sets processors apart.
"There's a lot of product that isn't cared for," he says. "It's looked at as waste that is being recycled—a profitable way to use garbage."
Without research on the long-term effects of e-cigarettes and hand-held vape pens, it's a bit of a gamble to use them regularly. For users who stick to the cheapest option, or seek out THC-exclusive extracts rather than whole-plant extracts, there are some factors to consider.
You might be smoking plastic.
"Just like American capitalism, we're seeing a trend of cheap parts, outsourcing and disposable products that creates excessive waste," says Bankoff, who markets her brand as unique for extracting from quality plants rather than throwaway trim usually used to make concentrate. It's important to take the time to understand the companies behind each brand. Vape cartridges use a wick to absorb the liquid cannabis extract and deliver to the vape chamber. If the wick is made of cheap material with uneven absorption, or even if the pen is stored upside down for long periods, you could be smoking the string.
Smoking only extracted THC is not ideal.
In 1985, the Food and Drug Administration approved a pharmaceutical THC formula named "Marinol" to treat nausea during cancer chemotherapy. The surprisingly unchill side effects showed that consuming isolated THC compounds has the opposite effect. "People felt paranoid rather than stoned," explains Mowgli Holmes, chief scientific officer at Phylos Bioscience. "The other cannabinoids in the plant moderate the effects of THC. Our bodies don't like THC by itself." More and more concentrate producers are turning to whole-plant extraction, which processes all of the plant to get a full profile of cannabinoids and terpenes. You can expect a full-flavored smoke and nuanced effects far beyond feeling high.
The oil you smoke is only as good as the lab that tested it.<
While gas chromatography has become an industry standard for Oregon dispensaries, it's not the highest bar. This process heats up the sample, which alters it and results in a less-than-accurate analysis. A handful of labs have upped the ante with instruments that perform liquid chromatography, a more tedious system but one with much more precision. "Many cannabinoids are heat-sensitive, changing under high temperatures to reform as other cannabinoids," says OG Analytical, one of the labs that uses high-performance liquid chromatography to test cannabis. That goes for pesticides and mildew as well, so don't inhale before you know where your flower or concentrate was tested.