The vaping industry has taken the country by storm. In many ways it has phased out traditional smoking methods for nicotine, marijuana, and even CBD. Cigarettes, joints, and cigars have been relegated to a thing of the past—replaced by handheld cartridges and electronic devices. However, what with the serious uptick in news stories of vape users getting sick or even dying from vaping-related illnesses, and the recent FDA bans on flavored cartridge-based products, you might be left wondering “can you vape cbd oil?” or “is vaping CBD safe?”
As to the first question, the answer is yes, CBD can be inhaled through a vaporizer. In regards to the second question, however, the waters become more muddied. While most people can safely vape CBD, they remain far more likely to develop any number of severe health issues resulting from inhalation. Until studies conclusively state that CBD is safe, might we suggest that there are safer, more effective ways to enjoy it.
Below, we’ll discuss the controversy surrounding vaping, the effects vaping can have on the body, and then propose CBD alternatives worth considering.
Is Vaping CBD Safe?
Truth be told, there remains swaths of information we still do not fully know or understand surrounding vaping—whether CBD or e-cigarette products containing nicotine. Because vapes are still a relatively new product, we lack the research necessary to reasonably say what the long-term effects might be. In addition, the dearth of federal regulation and the widespread demand for vaping products has led to all sorts of knock-offs and blackmarket alternatives being sold—many of which contain unknown flavoring agents and potentially harmful additives.
The following are but a few reasons why you should consider an alternative method for administering CBD.
Lack of Regulation
The fight over cannabis legalization rages on. Per Esquire, the state by state breakdown looks as follows:
- 11 states and D.C. allow the sale of recreational marijuana, medicinal marijuana, and CBD.
- 22 states allow for the sale of medicinal marijuana and/or CBD.
- 17 states range from outright opposition to legalization to being currently in the process of legalization.
Due to the fact that there’s no widespread consensus, it’s nearly impossible for the FDA to properly regulate cannabis products, including CBD vape oil. Similarly, hemp-based CBD, which contains less than .3% THC, was only recently made legal last year with the U.S. Farm Bill. As such, regulations are scant and inconsistent if they exist at all. Consumer Report writes:
While the FDA provides some guidance on dietary supplements, foods, and cosmetics, it does not offer similar oversight of vaping products, he says. That lack of regulation on vaping prevents the U.S. Hemp Authority from certifying CBD vape oils, as it does for CBD topicals, tinctures, and edibles.
And this isn’t the only issue that stems from this lack of regulation.
Mislabeling CBD Products
A mounting problem that we’re only recently discovering is that some CBD and vaporizer companies make bold claims, speak in half truths, or flat out lie about their product. As one 2017 JAMA study put it, “Discrepancies between federal and state cannabis laws have resulted in inadequate regulation and oversight, leading to inaccurate labeling of some products.” This study discovered that:
- Approximately 7 out of 10 CBD products did not contain the amount of CBD as advertised on their packaging.
- 42.85% of products contained more CBD than advertised.
- 26.19% contained less CBD than advertised.
- Just 30.95% of CBD products were accurately labeled.
This lack of regulation and frequent mislabing is especially concerning when it comes to CBD vape pen products since the lungs are incredibly vulnerable organs. And, when you inhale unknown vape products, you put yourself at a higher risk of developing serious health issues. Knowing this, if you must vape CBD—which we advise against—it’s essential that you only purchase CBD vape cartridges from reputable companies that have undergone rigorous third-party testing to ensure that their products are safe and labeled accurately.
Despite such precautions, the problem remains that such companies are few and far in between.
Lack of Research
As mentioned, vaping is a relatively new industry, and hemp-based CBD has only been legal nationwide for about a year. Consequently, there’s a scarcity of clinical research on the effects of vaping CBD, particularly on studies pertaining to the potential long-term effects.
Recent decades have demonstrated the grave consequences of using building materials or ingesting specific substances that we didn’t know enough about. Asbestos once padded the walls, lead lined our water lines, tobacco was freely smoked in restaurants and around children. It took years for us to see the ramifications of such actions.
Now, we look back and proclaim, “How could we have been so naive?!” The same sentiments might be said about vaping in two decades. Currently, we lack the information to confidently state an opinion whether in favor of or against vaping CBD. Long-term studies must be conducted before we can safely say that vaping CBD is a smart idea, especially when we know that there are better alternatives.
One question many people have is, “is vaping CBD bad for your lungs?” The answer to this is—we don’t know, but the limited research says it’s likely. It’s worth noting that such dangers don’t stem from the CBD itself, but rather the substances that are included—whether intentionally or not—in the vape juice mixture. The two primary substances you should be wary of include:
- Cuticle Wax – Cuticle waxes are present on the surface of many plants, including the hemp plant. The wax consists of a layer of oily and fatty lipids that protect the plant. When people smoke cannabis in a bowl, bong, or joint, the wax burns off during the combustion process. However, vaping typically uses much lower temperatures, and these temperatures do not burn the wax layer away. Instead, the wax can collect together and possibly build up in your lungs – potentially causing health issues and other effects.
You should avoid CBD vape juices that have cuticle waxes and instead limit your selection to juices that have undergone a winterization process—a technique which involves removing some or all of the harmful wax.
- Vape Additives – As mentioned previously, CBD vape products may not correctly label their ingredients. Harmful additives or substances could be added without your knowledge or consent—substances that aren’t meant to be combusted. For example, diacetyl, a buttery flavoring agent found in popcorn products, has been detected in several types of vape juices. While safe to eat, inhaling heated diacetyl has been linked to lung irritation and disease.
In addition to diacetyl, there are dozens of other potentially harmful ingredients that only become a health concern when they are heated and then inhaled.
How to Make CBD Vaping Safer
If you choose to vape CBD, it’s important that you purchase only the highest quality vape products. Two things that you must consider when you purchase vaping items include:
- The temperature of the vaporizer’s heater coil – If the CBD vape pen has a temperature that is too high (think 446°F or hotter) thinning agents in the oil may break down into carcinogenic aldehydes, which are harmful and potentially cancer-causing, and other toxic compounds. One study on the matter concluded:
In addition to applied power, the composition of e-liquid, and the devices’ ability to efficiently deliver e-liquid to the heating coil are important product design factors affecting coil operating temperature. Precautionary temperature checks on e-cigarettes under manufacturer-recommended normal use conditions may help to reduce the health risks from exposure to toxic carbonyl emissions associated with coil overheating.
The various types of coils (dry, wet-through-wick, full-wet) make it difficult to say what is safe and what is not. That said, generally speaking, look for vaporizers that have temperature readings or several temperature settings and then stick to the lower settings.
- The ingredients in the vape oil – Other concerns you must bare in mind are the various ingredients found in the vape oil you purchase, since what is on the label isn’t always truthful. Harmful additives or flavoring ingredients, high concentrations of THC, and synthetic cannabinoids have all been found in various vape oils, even when they were not listed on the packaging.
One way that you can protect yourself is by making sure that the vape oil company participates in independent third-party testing. This testing can confirm the true ingredients and the potency of the cannabinoids found in the oil.
Alternative Methods for Taking CBD
Vaping is certainly not your sole option when it comes to using CBD. There are many other ways that you can take CBD, including:
- Taking CBD oil sublingually (under your tongue).
- Swallowing CBD capsules.
- Adding CBD oil to a drink or your food.
- Massaging CBD creams into your skin.
Inhalation of CBD is the fastest method because the CBD enters your bloodstream through your lungs. This speed factor likely contributes to the reason for the high volume of people who choose to vape CBD. However, the risks detailed above outweigh the benefits of feeling the effects faster. You can still expect to feel relief through CBD within 30-60 minutes by taking CBD under your tongue or by adding a few drops to your food or drink.
For Now, Avoid Vaping CBD
Ultimately, further clinical research must be conducted before we can conclusively know whether there are harmful effects caused by vaping and what those effects may be. Vaping CBD very well could be safe, but we simply do not know enough about it to say that with confidence.
What with the lack of research about vaping and health problems, it may be best to find another method for taking CBD. While there are many benefits of CBD oil, not all products are created equally. Therefore, if you want to find out more about safe CBD alternatives, check out our CBD blog or talk with one of our experts from Plant People today.
Axios. 68 reported dead from vaping-related lung illness. https://www.axios.com/deaths-vaping-lung-illness-b6af29af-0078-44f8-ae87-5ecfcf12b3a4.html
cNet. Vaping: FDA to ban sale of flavored cartridge-based products https://www.cnet.com/news/a-timeline-of-recent-juul-and-vaping-health-controversies-death-update/
Esquire. Here Are All the States That Have Legalized Weed in the U.S. https://www.esquire.com/lifestyle/a21719186/all-states-that-legalized-weed-in-us/
Brookings Institute. The Farm Bill, hemp legalization and the status of CBD: An explainer. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2018/12/14/the-farm-bill-hemp-and-cbd-explainer/
Consumer Reports. Is It Safe to Vape CBD? https://www.consumerreports.org/cbd/is-it-safe-to-vape-cbd/
NCBI. Measurement of heating coil temperature for e-cigarettes with a “top-coil” clearomizer. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5908153/