Vaping CBD carries unique risks
People like vaping because it’s a smokeless, convenient, and fast-acting way to consume pleasure-inducing chemicals including THC and nicotine. It’s also potentially quite dangerous—and that’s also true when it comes to vaping cannabidiol, the popular cannabis-derived compound known as CBD. In fact, thanks to a regulatory no-man’s-land, a consumer craze, and manufacturers who dilute extract with oils better suited for salad dressings, CBD vapes are uniquely risky.
As of Oct. 10, more than 1,200 cases of a mysterious vaping-related illness, and 26 related deaths had been reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is advising consumers to “consider refraining” from vaping altogether. Of the 771 patients the CDC previously reported data on, the majority reported vaping THC and/or nicotine. Only about 17% reported having vaped a CBD product, but there is still good reason for CBD enthusiasts to take note—and even to be especially cautious.
“There’s no regulations.”
“There’s no regulations, there’s no one telling companies what to do,” says Jonathan Miller, general counsel for the trade group US Hemp Roundtable. “I don’t want to say it incentivizes bad behavior but it certainly doesn’t crack down on bad behavior.”
While no single brand, product, or ingredient has been identified as the cause of the 1,000-plus cases of vaping-associated pulmonary injury—first called VAPI and now renamed EVALI—we do know that many of the affected patients were vaping illicit, and therefore unregulated, THC products. Tests showed many of those contained vitamin E acetate, an oil derived from vitamin E—which is considered safe for skincare but not for inhalation.
We can’t reasonably expect dealers of illegal cannabis vapes would test their products for safety or share ingredient lists with customers. The thing is, consumers can’t necessarily expect that sort of testing or transparency from manufacturers of hemp-derived CBD vapes either—even if they’re buying them from vape shops, specialty stores, or websites that don’t appear to be breaking the law. The category is completely unregulated. And reckless players are not limited to labeling their products as THC. In September, the Associated Press tested 30 vape products marketed as CBD from brands that authorities had flagged as suspect, and found that 10 contained dangerous synthetic marijuana and many had little to no CBD at all.
While the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been struggling to research and regulate both CBD and vaping separately, the agency has allowed manufacturers to flood the market with both types of products. In the FDA’s eyes, none of these products are legal, as they have not been evaluated or regulated for their safety. And where these two categories overlap in CBD vapes is a grey area that’s ripe for exploitation at the risk of consumers’ health. According to analysts at Cowen and Company, that grey area was worth an estimated $40 million in sales in 2018.
Meanwhile Miller, along with many others in the cannabis and hemp industries, is eager for lawmakers to create legal frameworks for their products. They point to the reported illnesses from black-market vapes as proof that a legal, regulated cannabis market is a safer one.
A brief legal primer
The difference between cannabis and industrial hemp in the eyes of US law is the content of THC, the intoxicating compound in cannabis: If a plant contains more than 0.3% THC by dry weight, it’s cannabis, and still considered federally illegal despite the many states with legalized recreational and medicinal use. If it’s less 0.3% THC by dry weight, it’s considered hemp, which is being incrementally regulated by government agencies. The 2018 Farm Bill removed industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, essentially declassifying it as a dangerous controlled substance of no medical use, clarifying its status as an agricultural product, and making it legal under federal law under some circumstances.
In May of this year, the FDA held a public hearing where more than 100 stakeholders—patients, manufacturers, and researchers among them—testified about their experiences with CBD. Now, the industry is waiting for a timeline for regulation, which was expected this autumn, but has yet to appear. In the meantime, the FDA considers interstate sale of CBD as a food additive or nutritional supplement (ie., all those candies, canned sodas, and tinctures) to be illegal. But it’s not enforcing the law so long as operators in the estimated $590 million market for hemp-derived CBD adhere to the broader rules for the categories they fall in, whether that’s food, supplements, or cosmetics.
But here’s where it gets complicated, because the FDA hasn’t regulated vaping yet.
“You get kind of a double grey area here,” says Miller. “CBD is considered illegal by the FDA, and vaping is now viewed pretty hostilely by the FDA. It really is a great unknown … Without the FDA engaged formally, it makes it a lot tougher for consumers to figure out what’s a good product and what’s not.”
You might be safer with weed
If you’re in a state where weed is legal, you might be safer smoking (or vaping) it, by going to a licensed dispensary for a high CBD-strain or vape that’s subject to the same regulations that cannabis is. In states like California and Oregon, where cannabis is regulated by state agencies, products with THC are subject to testing for contaminants such as pesticides, heavy metals, solvents, and mold-related toxins. Again, hemp-derived CBD products are currently subject to … nothing.
“It’s the wild, wild west,” says Aaron Riley, the CEO of the Los Angeles-based cannabis testing lab CannaSafe, of the CBD landscape. Riley says that many of the CBD products CannaSafe tests would fail if they were subject to the same exacting standards as products containing THC—but they’re not. “You don’t have to get licensed. You don’t have to do any type of testing at all.”
Which isn’t to say that no one is testing CBD products. As the Hemp Roundtable’s Miller said, “some very well-meaning companies will try to promote the best practices.”
Some of those companies are those that come from the cannabis industry, and therefore have years of experience with extraction and testing.
The northern California-based company Bloom Farms—which has been in the cannabis extracts business since 2014—started selling hemp-derived CBD products online in January, and puts them through the same testing processes as their products with THC, which are under the strict purview of the California Bureau of Cannabis Control. Customers can also download a certificate of analysis from Bloom’s website that provides test results from a third-party lab, but that’s far from standard in the CBD space.
An oily situation
And of course, not all CBD vapes are created equal. Many extracts sold in vape pens and cartridges are diluted with other substances, such as medium-chain-triglyceride, or MCT, oils—fats that are frequently derived from natural sources such as coconut oil. While these are known to be safe to eat—and are often found in CBD tinctures—there’s little if any evidence that it’s safe to vape them, despite some manufacturers touting them as an all-natural ingredient.
“It’s totally horrifying to me,” says Katie Stem, an herbalist who cofounded the Oregon-based cannabis company Peak Extracts in 2014, and has researched plant medicine and chemistry at Oregon Health & Science University. “People should not be cutting [cannabis extracts] with any sort of culinary lipid.” Stem says that with an extraction process using carbon dioxide as a solvent, it’s possible to create a vape-able distillate containing only plant material, without any additives.
Quartz contacted two manufacturers of CBD vape pens that contain MCT oil, and neither has replied to our messages. Bloom Farms’ unflavored CBD vape contains no MCTs or other cutting agents. The company’s flavored CBD vape pens contain trace amounts of MCTs—less than 0.3% according to a company representative—and the company is currently phasing them out.
Neal Benowitz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who has studied the pharmacology of e-cigarettes, says that CO2 extraction process is “pretty clean,” and the results are well-known.
“People have been vaping them for a long time, and haven’t had a problem,” he says. “That seems to be relatively safe, and that’s a solvent that dissolves them. The question now is, when you start messing with that process, what are you adding to it?”
Benowitz said the effects of vaping MCT oil, however, is an understudied area.
“I’m concerned about it,” he says. “But I don’t have any data.”
Stem speculates the tendency to mix cannabis extract with MCTs might come down to greed or ignorance, and a misunderstanding of the term “cannabis oil,” which is something of a misnomer since CBD and THC extracts are not fatty lipids at all.
“They think, ‘Oh, it’s an oil. I can mix it with another oil and that will thin it and it will make it easier to flow into our vape pen,’ and it’s not harmful because we’re already smoking oil. Well, no. Cannabis extract is not an oil,” says Stem.
Kathryn Melamed, a pulmonologist at University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center who has seen patients affected by vaping, agrees that smoking oils can be dangerous, and notes that the vaping-related illness bears some resemblance to lipoid pneumonia—a direct reaction to lipids or oils in the lungs.
“While one type of substance—like vitamin E or maybe some other oil—can be ingested and metabolized through the gut, the lung just doesn’t have that ability,” she says. “So then it becomes much more dangerous, and a particle that the lung wants to try to fight and expel. And that’s the inflammatory response that you get.”
Vaping CBD Oil: How Does Vaping CBD Work, Is It Safe?
You’ve likely seen CBD vape pens, cartridges, and portable dab pens everywhere, from your local smoke shops, gas stations to dispensaries. And it doesn’t end here. In the wake of the massive surge in vaping popularity, the internet seems to be flooded with online vendors selling many CBD vaping products that you are utterly clueless about.
And that’s not all. According to the Brightfield Group, a firm that evaluated the CBD market, the industry is expected to grow exponentially in the upcoming years. Convenient, smokeless, and fast-acting, the practice of vaping CBD oil is getting popular for all the right reasons. Naturally, vaping CBD oil has piqued your interest, and you are eager to learn more. Fortunately, we are here to bail you out once again.
If you are curious about vaping CBD oil and are looking for further information on the topic, this guide is for you. Our guide on the ten things you should know about Vaping CBD oil is an all-in-one guide that will help you start your vaping experience safely and effectively.
Let’s get started.
Can you vape CBD oil?
In short, yes. You can vape using a variety of ways, including dapping using a portable dab pen, using vape pens and cartridges. Additionally, you can also vape a Hemp joint in the U.S. Perhaps unsurprisingly, vaping CBD oil has been rapidly climbing the charts and all for the right reasons too. Not only does vaping CBD oil provide a taste-free experience, but it also enhances its bioavailability.
The CBD oil quickly reaches the bloodstream and renders its effects almost instantaneously, including relaxation, relief, better sleep quality, enhanced concentration, and mood improvement in layman’s terms. That being said, you can opt for plenty of other effective and, more importantly, risk-free ways that can provide a similar experience.
Is Vaping CBD Oil a safe practice?
To cut it short, probably not.
Generally speaking, the practice of vaping itself- regardless of whether it is CBD vaping or e-cigarette products with nicotine- is a relatively new phenomenon. And we don’t have enough research at hand to evaluate its safety. However, vaping CBD oil can lead to considerable lung damage and other health problems, including heart diseases, stroke, and lung cancer. Recent studies warn us of the dangers of vaping CBD oil due to poor regulation and the use of carcinogenic additives. Several states, including Oregon and Washington, have banned all flavored vape products for nicotine and CBD. And that’s not all. The American Medical Association has recently called for a total ban on all vape products.
The fact remains that CBD is safe for consumption, regardless of whether it is taken orally or vaped. The problem lies with the dangerous chemical additives that are typically added to vaping CBD oil. The majority of the CBD vapes circulating today contain Vitamin E acetate used as a thickener/diluter for the THC vaping liquid. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, this is largely responsible for vaping-related illnesses and death in the U.S.
But the good news is that WHO reported in 2017 that CBD alone causes no health threats. So as long as you opt for pure CBD from reputable sellers that have undergone third-party lab testing and ensure that the vapes are free of dangerous additives, including vitamin E acetate, thinning agents PG, you are good to go. Additionally, it’s best to stick to vape pens or cartridges that consist of only pure, unadulterated CBD distillate that has been derived from the Cannabis plant via CO2 or solvent extraction methods and is free of dangerous chemicals.
Can Vaping CBD oil get you high?
A common misconception that surrounds vaping CBD oil is whether or not it can get you high. Allow us to put this endless debate to rest. No, vaping CBD oil will not get you high if it isn’t derived from marijuana containing THC.
You see, there is something known as the cannabis family. Both Hemp and marijuana are two different species within the same plant family. The CBD that you can find online or in your local stores comes from the Hemp plant and is legal and non-psychoactive- containing no more than 0.3 % of THC, which simply isn’t enough to get you high. You can always go ahead and verify the contents of the products to ensure.
Conversely, the CBD vape oil you can buy via medical marijuana or recreational marijuana dispensary that is not subject to the THC limits of Hemp and can, hence, get you high.
Is CBD oil and vape oil different?
Most users make a common mistake while choosing the best CBD vape products by differentiating vape oil from normal CBD oil. Learning the differences between the two is essential before selecting a vape product.
As far as CBD oil is concerned, it is a pure product derived from the cannabis family, i.e., Hemp or Marijuana. Its preparation mechanism involves raw concentrates of Hemp or marijuana and is ingested orally via capsules, extracts, or tinctures. You cannot use pure CBD oil for vaping because it is too dense and isn’t appropriate for vaping directly.
On the other hand, CBD vape oil, more commonly known as CBD vape juice, is a chemical preparation specifically formulated in vape cartridges. Apart from CBD oil, they contain certain essential additives that make them ideal for vape pens. A word of caution: Remaining cautious of these additives is super important as they are the main culprits in vape-related lung injuries. Hence, it is of the utmost importance that you opt for high-quality vaporizers designed to heat raw, unadulterated Hemp or Cannabis concentrate. Additionally, go for vape pens that are manufactured by legitimate companies that accompany fewer health issues. Nevertheless, they are still a major concern to the CDC and the health department for causing lung injuries.
Another factor to be mindful of when selecting the best CBD vape oil is locating its source. Aside from determining the product’s purity and safety, it will also help you ascertain your legal standpoint. Here’s the point. The best legally available CBD vape products you can buy today are the ones that are derived from Hemp and contain a higher CBD to THC ratio. Alternatively, marijuana-derived vape oils are more likely to have a higher concentration of THC, and that might land you in legal hot water.
Will Vaping CBD Oil show up in a drug test?
You nailed your resume and aced that interview. And now all that remains between you and that awesome job you’ve had your eye on for like forever is a mandatory drug test. But here’s the problem. You fear that the CBD oil that you have recently been vaping CBD oil for relief might make you fail your drug test. Now before you start dreading that this might be the end of your dream job, let me stop you right there. You might have a shot, and here’s why.
Here’s the deal. As far as Cannabis goes, drug tests usually only screen for THC- the compound that gets you high. And legally, CBD products can only contain up to 0.3% THC. While different drug tests have varying detection thresholds, you are most likely to encounter the urine drug test, the ‘’pee test’’. According to the National Institute of Health, your body THC amount must be below 50ng/ml if you have any hopes of passing the urine drug test. The good news is that you would have had to consume around 2000mg of CBD products containing 0.3% or less THC to hit the 50 ng/ml of THC threshold. And that is next to impossible for an average consumer to ingest. Subjects are administered around 100 to 800mg/day even in research studies.
At this point, you probably think that you’re good to go, right? Not quite.
One way you could fail your drug test after vaping CBD oil is that you have accidentally consumed products that contained a larger concentration of THC than advertised. Unfortunately, research states that false label accuracy for THC in products sold online by unreputable vendors is common. Another way that your urine drug test could be positive for CBD depends largely on your body weight and the amount of CBD you have consumed. A higher concentration of THC can accumulate in your body for 4 to 6 days and can be detected in your system for up to 30 days in heavy Cannabis users.
How long do CBD vape effects last?
When it comes to vaping CBD oil, one of the most common questions we hear is: How long do the effects of CBD last?
When you vape CBD, you inhale the cannabidiol vapor via a compatible vaping device- meaning that this consumption method plant allows CBD to bypass the digestive system, and the lungs rapidly absorb CBD. From here, it enters the bloodstream quickly, travels to various places in the body, and renders its effects.
While the effects of vaping CBD oil are achieved almost instantaneously, it doesn’t last for long. The effects of vaping CBD oil will last only for around 3o minutes to an hour.
How does CBD vape make you feel?
One of the major sensations provided by CBD is relaxation. Most users describe this feeling as neutralizing discomfort and lowering stress. Others have attributed this sensation to an exaggerated feeling of peace, calm, and positivity.
Because CBD has superior anti-inflammatory benefits, you can also use the herb to reduce stress and uneasiness. As opposed to CBD vape oil, smoking CBD- rich Hemp flowers can provide some psychoactive effects as the flower contains a higher concentration of THC than all other CBD products.
How to choose the best CBD vape products?
Keep in mind that besides including only food-grade materials, the best CBD products will also omit ingredients that the Food and Drug Administration deemed detrimental to human health. FDA states that a vast majority of lung illnesses in people who vaped CBD were due to using products that contained vitamin E acetate. Additionally, a third of the patients used vape pens containing aliphatic esters, and a tenth vaped with CBD products that contain polyethylene glycol. The FDA encouraged people to avoid these ingredients but still stressed that these might not be the only causative agents responsible for lung illnesses.
If you want to find the best CBD vape products, make sure that you opt for legal sources only, regardless of the cost and ease of availability. Below listed are a few of the common CBD products used for vaping;
- Full-Spectrum CBD Oil- Consists of various naturally occurring terpenes, cannabinoids, and other Cannabis plants compounds. Additionally, it contains trace amounts (0.3%) of THC, the psychoactive compound present in Cannabis.
- Broad-Spectrum CBD Oil- Consists of all the compounds that are present in the full-spectrum CBD oil other than the trace amounts of THC
- CBD Isolate- Consists of pure, unadulterated, aroma-free CBD extracted from the industrial Hemp plant.
Regardless of the type of CBD oil you choose, ensure that it comes from legitimate sellers that employ strict quality control measures, including rigorous lab testing and independent third-party testing. Avoid CBD products containing potentially hazardous ingredients, including Vitamin E acetate, aliphatic esters, vegetable glycerine, and propylene glycol.
What dosage of CBD vape oil should be taken?
Concerning the dosage of CBD vape oil, there is no one size fits all approach. Here’s why.
The recommended CBD vape dosage is solely dependent on a range of factors, such as the symptoms under treatment, body weight, tolerance, and height. Not to mention that everyone’s metabolism is different, which can affect the results—as with anything else, getting the accurate CBD vape dosage for your individual needs can take a little time to get right.
As mentioned earlier, CBD vape juice enters the bloodstream rapidly via inhalation and induces its calming properties super quickly. So if you need a short-term stress reliever, a few puffs in times of need will do the job. Conversely: If you are on the lookout for a more permanent solution to chronic discomforts, you’ll require regular doses over a while to attain your desired results.
The best way to find your dosage is to start small with a few puffs every 2 to 3 times a day. Continue doing this for a few weeks, and if you don’t see any results, gradually increase the dose. Pay close attention to how you feel and as soon as you find the dosage that works for you, stick to that.
Are there alternative ways to take CBD besides vaping it?
Asides from vaping CBD oil, there happen to be many other alternatives that are far less risky and effective, including oral tinctures, creams, patches, capsules, edibles and isolate powders and drinks. You can use isolated powder in various edibles as it consists of 99% pure CBD. You can dissolve the crystals in butter or add it to a jelly mix, and you’ll end up with your very own CBD- infused butter and Jello.
You can also smoke CBD Hemp flowers and other concentrates as an alternative to vaping CBD e- juice. Remember that while you can always use vape juice orally as it is made with 100% food-grade ingredients, vice versa isn’t possible. Meaning you cannot use CBD oil tinctures or extracts for vaping.
Hopefully, our guide has provided you with enough info that you can utilize to start your own CBD vaping journey. Yes, we do realize that this is a great amount of information to peddle through. However, our motto is to present you with all the necessary facts regarding vaping CBD oil before you can decide whether you should try it or not.
In our humble opinion, the combination of access to a good quality CBD vape oil together with a detailed knowledge of vaping CBD oil as, fortunately, outlined in our guide is all you are going to need to start vaping CBD oil safely and achieve all your desired results.
Share with friends or family who might be thinking of dabbling in the art of vaping CBD oil. Stay in touch!