Recent research on e-cigarettes is raising eyebrows in the cannabis community. Many marijuana consumers, both medical marijuana patients and recreational users have turned to vaporizers that heat cannabis oil concentrates as a healthier alternative to smoking marijuana. Some states have banned the smoking of marijuana entirely, such as Florida, due to the health risks of inhaling smoke into patients’ lungs. Marijuana flower is not even being offered in these states to ensure that no patient could smoke cannabis. It leaves medical marijuana patients with no choice but use vape pens with cannabis oil.
The question is whether vaping is actually more toxic than smoking based off of the recent research conducted. In the study on e-cigarettes by Johns Hopkins, researches studied the e-cigarette vaporizers of 56 users and found they created aerosols that contained toxic metals such as chromium, lead, manganese or nickel. These toxic metals can cause lung, liver and cardiovascular disease, impact the immune system and even cause cancer and brain damage. While the research was not conducted on cannabis oil vaporizers, the same technology is used for both e-cigarettes and cannabis vaporizers.
In the research, the fresh e-liquids did not contain the toxic metals. The metals were found in the e-liquids after the vaporizers were used. The rationale behind using vape pens is that they heat the medium to a temperature below combustion, a little below 500°F. Once combustion occurs that medium is broken down into much smaller molecules, some of which that can be toxic. However, the conclusion of the study was that the heating coils were the source of the toxic metals. In vaporizers a battery is used that provides an electric current to heat the coils, that current and the consequential heating releases droplets of the metal into the e-liquid. The metals were found in the largest abundance in e-liquid dispensers that were used after a fresh coil was used to replace an old one.
Many of these vaporizers and the components that make them up are made very cheaply overseas. While there has been no evidence as of yet that these toxic metals have been found in cannabis oil, that may simply be due to the fact that the research has not happened yet. It is not unreasonable to draw the conclusion that the same would be true for cannabis oil vaporizers since they are made in the same fashion as e-cigarettes and in many of the same places. E-cigarette users tend to use their vaporizers much more often and therefore may need to replace their coils more often than your typical cannabis consumer.
Especially in medical marijuana patients, the existence of these toxic metals is a potential big problem. Any ideas that vaping is an healthier alternative to smoking cannabis would be entirely negated by the existence of these toxic metals. States that have prohibited the smoking of marijuana due to the health impacts should consider studying the technology used to construct vaporizers to make sure that they are in fact healthier than smoking. Otherwise, stricter regulations will need to be put in place on the manufacturing of marijuana oil vape pens.