Human beings have been employing devices to heat and smoke cannabis since, well, forever. They’re ancestors of the current crop of electronic vape pens and other tools intended to make use of cannabis as concentrate and e-liquid. As a trend, it’s definitely taken off – for nicotine and cannabis. In fact, many fans use the same device for either drug. A link:

Tobacco/Nicotine and Vaping Trends & Statistics

If you read the promotional literature from vaping websites, this is what you’ll find:

  • Claims that vaping is a healthier alternative to smoking. For example, that vaping cannabis results in less in the way of cognitive impairment (that mental ‘fog’ that users complain of.)
  • That the “high” from vaped cannabis is superior because it can be customized to suit the user’s tastes — by adjusting the temperature at which the oil is heated, for instance, and also by adding flavorings.
  • That vaped cannabis is both purer and more potent — there’s your real selling point — and involves less wasted product than conventional smoking. Over the long run, the story goes, you’ll save money!

It reminds me of how filtered cigarettes were once advertised as less irritating to lungs and throat, and therefore much better for you than unfiltered brands. Or how liquor companies will tout the smoothness of a brand, over its competitors. The marketing seems to work: vaping has now become the bright new star of commercial cannabis.

Vaping also maintains a foothold in its original niche, as a tool for tobacco cessation. We were told that vaping nicotine was superior to patches, gum, and pills as a pathway to abstinence. I’ve heard it compared to methadone and buprenorphine maintenance for opioid addiction. However, that’s been called into question recently by newer research. I’ll take a closer look at that issue later, in a separate post.

One thing’s for sure: once established, vaping can be a hard habit to break. Worse than cigarettes, according to one former vaper. “I think I was getting more nicotine from the vaping,” he said. That’s entirely possible.

As far as research goes, we seem to be in the “to be continued” stage when it comes to definite conclusions. It may be that the early benefits of electronic nicotine use were simply overstated — that seems to happen quite often. And as one researcher put it, “…truth is, we know more about vaping nicotine than we do about vaping cannabis, and we don’t know that much about vaping nicotine.”

Nonetheless, there are some disturbing indications to consider. Examples:

Thousands of Unknown Chemicals Found in E-Cigarettes

And with respect to younger users:

Cannabis vaping: Understanding the health risks of a rapidly emerging trend

Last but not least, from a group at the University of Michigan:

Vaping marijuana — more symptoms of lung damage than vaping or smoking nicotine

If findings such as those continue to emerge, it would strengthen the case for much tighter controls on vaping, period.

And no doubt provoke opposition from within the commercial cannabis industry.