Some uninformed consumers have been unfortunately misled about the safety profile of vaping, after a serious lung illness called EVALI (e-cigarette and vaping associated lung illness) was reported. It was later discovered that commercial vaping was not the cause, but rather, the disease was the result of people vaping black market THC cartridges which used vitamin E acetate as a carrier oil. The real culprit of the illness was the vitamin E oil, which is not used in commercially available vaping products. This calls into question though, whether it’s safe or not to vape CBD. The CDC had initially warned against all vaping as a result of the EVALI scare, but later modified its guidance to warn against only using black market THC vape products.
There are certainly some things that you should not vape, and that black market THC “dank vape” that you buy from the guy on the street corner is one of them. THC itself won’t cause the lung illness in question, and if you do want to vape THC, do so by acquiring cartridges from a reputable (and legal) retailer.
CBD, unlike THC, is not psychoactive, and is used primarily for pain relief, anxiety and stress, and is now legal. There are numerous ways to take CBD, and vaping is actually the best method for getting the fastest benefit from it. When considering CBD, bioavailability is a big consideration. Edibles such as CBD gummies may be convenient, but the fact is that CBD has a low bioavailability – which means that when you ingest it, only about 15 percent of it actually reaches your bloodstream. Vaping allows you to get more of the CBD into your system, and to see the benefits of it much faster, because when vaping it, CBD enters directly into your bloodstream rather than passing through your digestive system, which reduces the presence of bioactive compounds.
Legalization (of both CBD and THC) is the best path for purity – and the best way to avoid instances of EVALI or the presence of impurities or toxins that may be present in black market products. In fact, in municipalities where cannabis is legal and THC cartridges can be purchased at legal dispensaries, instances of EVALI are almost nonexistent.
CBD vape juice is now widely available from established manufacturers, and sold by mainstream retailers both online and in brick-and-mortar stores, and it is a perfectly safe way to take CBD. While CBD vape juice does need a carrier oil, but manufacturers of CBD vape juice and disposable CBD vapes typically use vegetable glycerin or propylene glycol, both of which are safe ingredients and commonly used as a food additive. Propylene glycol is one of the most useful agents for creating a vaporizable CBD liquid, simply because it is a thin agent – a thicker agent such as vitamin E acetate causes problems because it does not fully vaporize and may get into the lungs. A few people may have allergies to propylene glycol, and if that is the case, CBD vape juice with a vegetable glycerin base is preferred. Still other CBD vape juices use medium chain triglycerides (MCT), another flavorless and thin mixing agent which is also considered safe and non-carcinogenic.
Still, the fact that the FDA has been slow to look at and regulate CBD products underscores the importance of buying it from a reputable manufacturer or retailer, and making sure to buy a product that has a certified lab analysis from a third party lab. If you do already have a lung issue such as asthma or COPD, vaping should be avoided. For those who do want to vape CBD, check the lab report (if the manufacturer does not offer a lab report, don’t buy it!), buy from a reputable commercial retailer, and choose a product which is made by CO2 extraction, which is the cleanest processing method and does not produce any added chemicals.
A few simple rules will give consumers reassurance when buying CBD vape pens:
- Check the lab report, and guard against additives, fillers and the presence of vitamin E acetate.
- Don’t buy any vaping product off the street.
- Never modify your vape pen.
Ultimately we are still in the early stage of CBD vaping. Legalization has been an important step in making sure legitimate and unadulterated products are on the market, but the FDA still needs to take action to oversee manufacturers of CBD vape products.