I ingest THC and CBD by vaping every day. It's my substitute for a nightly glass of red wine, because I believe cannabis is more beneficial and safer than alcohol.
So it bothers me when reports of vaping illnesses and deaths (including two here in Oregon) make it sound like all kinds of vaping should be given up.
What appears to be dangerous is vaping e-cigarettes containing nicotine, and vaping THC cartridges that contain additives and oil.
A Vox story today, "THC vape products appear to be the main culprit in the mysterious lung illness outbreak," says:
Investigators appear to be getting closer to uncovering one of the main causes of the outbreak of mysterious lung injuries linked with e-cigarettes: vaping products containing THC, the main psychoactive chemical in cannabis.
On Friday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said that while they haven’t figured out exactly which chemical or device is making people sick, the majority of the cases in both national and state studies to date appear to involve THC-based vaping products. Many of them are illicit products labeled with brand names such as “Dank Vape.”
Note the mention of products, chemical, and device. That's because manmade THC cartridges, not the natural loose-leaf cannabis flower, have been implicated in the vaping illnesses.
The cartridges are used with vaping devices. They contain concentrated THC that is considerably stronger than cannabis flower. I used to use THC cartridges, but now only vape ground cannabis flower in my much-beloved PAX3 vaporizer.
I buy cannabis flower ("buds") that's been tested in accord with Oregon cannabis growing/selling regulations. I grind it into small pieces using my Santa Cruz herb grinder. Then a small amount of ground cannabis goes into the heating receptacle of the PAX3 vaporizer.
A little goes a long way.
Vaping cannabis flower is far removed from my Cheech & Chong'ish college days in the late 60's when we'd roll joints out of whatever was available on the black market: flower, leaves, seeds... it all was rolled up and smoked.
Which meant we were inhaling, not surprisingly, smoke. Not so with vaping, where, not surprisingly, vapor is inhaled. A PAX web page explains:
A vaporizer is an electronic device that heats dry herb or concentrated cannabis to release vapor. Vaporizing does not combust the plant material, reducing odors. Vaporizing herbs has its roots in ancient history. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote about the use of hot stones to create steam vapor baths as early as 440 BC. We’ve certainly come a long way from using rocks, with many electronic options of varying sizes and capabilities on the market today.
Thus it isn't vaping that is dangerous.
What's causing illnesses and deaths is something in a product that's being vaped. Note in the quotation above that a vaporizer can heat "dry herb or concentrated cannabis." It's the concentrated cannabis that health authorities are worried about, not the dry herb (cannabis flower).
Now, I realize that experienced marijuana consumers already know what I've talked about in this blog post. My intended audience is other people who hear "you should stop vaping" and jump to the conclusion that all varieties of vaping are dangerous.
They aren't. A comment on an Oregonian story about vaping illnesses got it just right.