BY DEANNA DEBARA
Photo by Mihai Surdu/Unsplash
Vaping-related illnesses and deaths made major headlines in 2019. And while the outbreak was eventually traced back to vitamin E acetate, a THC additive found in off-market, illicit cannabis vapes, many consumers are still concerned with the safety of vaping—and how to protect themselves when vaping cannabis products.
So, the question is: How do you know your vape is safe—and how do you consume safely? Read on for everything you need to know.
Make sure you’re shopping at a legal dispensary
As mentioned, most of the medical issues around vaping were tied to illicit THC products. So what’s the best way to make sure your vape products are safe for consumption? Shop in a legal, licensed dispensary like MedMen.
“You have to make sure the shop you're going to is licensed,” says Alex Traverso, Assistant Chief of Communications for the California Bureau of Cannabis Control. “All the products in licensed retail locations have gone through strict state testing, so we know it's passed. None of the vaping sicknesses that we had here in California were traced back to the legal market.”
Shopping in an unlicensed shop, on the other hand, can dramatically increase your chances of getting unsafe (or even dangerous) products. “If you're going into an unlicensed shop, as we've seen through testing of some of the products our enforcement officials have taken from them, the vast majority will not pass testing”—and that includes vape cartridges that may contain additives that are unsafe for human consumption.
Unfortunately, there’s a huge volume of unlicensed dispensaries out there; for example, in California, unlicensed cannabis dispensaries and delivery services are more than three times more prevalent than legal, licensed dispensaries.
That’s why it’s so important to understand how to tell the difference between a legal and illegal dispensary.
The best way to check if a dispensary is licensed will vary by state to state; in Nevada, you can check which dispensaries are open and licensed to sell cannabis on the State of Nevada Department of Taxation’s website. In California, “we have regulations in place that mandate all retail locations have the QR code emblem on their front door,” says Traverso. Consumers can scan the QR code on their smartphone and instantly pull up the licensing information for the dispensary. If there is no QR code (or you don’t have a QR scanner on your phone), you can check a dispensary’s licensing info on CApotcheck.com.
Bottom line? If you want to make sure your vape products are safe, shopping at a licensed dispensary is a non-negotiable. “You have the power to make an informed decision when you shop—and that's to really look for a legal retail location where you know the products are safe,” says Traverso.
Research where your vape products are coming from
Shopping in a legal, licensed dispensary will help ensure you’re getting safe vape products. But if, in addition to safety, you’re also concerned about getting the highest quality vape products? It’s best to do your research and figure out where the products are coming from and how they’re being made.
“Investigate the manufacturer! I cannot stress this enough,” says Emma Chasen, cannabis educator and co-founder of cannabis consulting firm Eminent Consulting. “Get in touch with the company and ask the following questions: How do they extract their cannabis? Where do they source their cannabis? Do they add in any terpenes? Where do their batteries come from? Do they have lab results you can look at?”
“Choose vape pens that are made with organically grown cannabis, extracted with full spectrum methodology and contain zero additives,” continues Chasen. “You want 100% pure cannabis extract and nothing else.”
The more you know about the products you’re consuming, the more you’ll be able to make an educated, informed decision on which products are right for you—and the safer you’ll be as a result.
Making sure your vape products are safe is the first part of the equation. But so is taking care that you consume safely once you have those vape products in hand.
When you take a hit off a vape pen, you feel the effects immediately. “Onset is immediate when vaping,” says Chasen. “As you inhale, the compounds diffuse into the bloodstream through the lungs and effects can be felt in as soon as 2 to 5 minutes post inhalation.”
And because vaping hits you strong and fast, it can be easy to over consume—and get higher than you planned (or want) to be.
That’s why if you want to vape safely—especially if you don’t do so regularly—you should plan to consume slowly. “Keep the draw to about 2 seconds and immediately exhale; then, wait about 5 to 10 minutes [before you] consume more,” says Chasen.
Taking a small hit, seeing how it affects you, and then waiting a few minutes before taking another will give you better control of your vaping experience and your level of intoxication—all of which make for safer consumption.
Now, if you do accidentally overconsume, there’s no need to panic.
“Drinking water, vaping CBD, and making sure you are in a comfortable settling with people you trust will help you ride through an uncomfortable experience,” says Chasen. “Also, keep in mind that the greatest intensity will occur at the 15min mark post inhalation and then the psychotropic activity will begin to decrease. Just knowing this fact helps a lot of people ride through the discomfort.”
Shop and vape safely
Safe consumption is a huge part of being a responsible cannabis consumer. And now that you know how to make sure your vape products are safe—and how to consume them safely—you have the tools you need to make informed (and safe!) decisions around vaping.
Now that you know our vapes are safe, here are three to try:
If you’re concerned about overconsumption, you’re definitely going to want to check out the dosist calm pen. With a 1:10 THC to CBD ratio, this dose-controlled vape pen is designed to deliver a more calm, relaxed consumption experience.
Looking for a more potent pick-me-up? The Pineapple Coast disposable vape from DomPen packs a potent punch of THC (65.3 percent) in a triple-distilled oil blend with a distinct smell (and taste!) of pineapple.
This disposable indica pen from Platinum Vape promises to promote calm, relaxation, and sleepiness—perfect for pre-bedtime vape consumption.