The medical cannabis market has experienced a boom recently, filled with revelations on the health benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) — the major nonpsychoactive component of the cannabis plant — in treating a host of mental and physical ailments. This has led to a growing number of people investigating their CBD options, and many have settled on the vaping method.
CBD oil vaping has many advantages over other methods of administration, including increased bioavailability (the proportion which enters circulation when introduced to the body, and is able to have an active effect) and a shorter list of ingredients.
But the hard part comes in choosing one of the many brands on offer. Here, we go into three points that are often overlooked in the search.
Any discussion of CBD vape oil should start with a disclaimer on vaping itself: we’re still in the method’s wild west. In the past year, public health warnings were raised on the risks of CBD vaping, with complaints ranging from headaches, nausea and seizures to hallucinations, loss of consciousness and rapid heartbeat. The good news then, first — most if not all of these issues can be traced back to the poor regulation of the vaping market, and the prevalence of adulterants in vaping products sold by even the most legitimate of retailers.
The bad news? There’s still disagreement on what makes a good CBD vape juice. One of the most suspect ingredients is propylene glycol (PG), a common additive in vape oils that makes for the satisfying cloud when you exhale (it’s also used in fog machines). The vaping oils that carry the substance often repeat the line about food-grade PG long being ruled safe by the US Food and Drug Administration(FDA) and Health Canada — the reasoning being that a substance safe to ingest must be safe to vape.
But there is increasing evidence that PG can cause irritation and damage to people’s lungs when heated. At higher temperatures, it turns into a known carcinogen.
Then, that good news? There are an increasing number of high quality CBD e-liquids with fewer additives coming to market.
Just look on the label, right? Not for 70 percent of CBD products — and 90 percent of CBD vape oils — tested in a 2017 study. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania analyzed 84 CBD products for concentration of CBD and the presence of THC (the psychoactive chemical in cannabis). They found that only 31% of the products tested contained, within an acceptable margin of error, the amount of CBD advertised on the label, while 26 percent contained less CBD than the label specified and 43 percent contained more.
THC, present in 21 percent of the products tested, adds another variable. This is the part of cannabis responsible for the “high,” and it can have adverse effects on some of the conditions that CBD is indicated for. THC raises the anxiety of some users, and can contribute to problems with sleeping. In addition, it can cause cognitive impairment and positive results in drug tests.
These labeling issues are a side effect of the lack of regulation on CBD products in the US at a federal level. This lack of oversight opens the door for unscrupulous CBD sellers, who may misrepresent the benefits of CBD and its ability to treat, cure, or prevent a particular disease.
So, how do you know that what you’re buying does what it says on the tin? One way to suss out a reputable company is to search for their product in reviews on the internet — where you might find lab results declaring the product free of contaminants. Then head to their website, and look for the telltale markings of a real company, with accountability. Do they list a phone number? Reach out to them and see if they can answer your questions.
Another thing that reputable companies will shy away from is making claims about the effect of CBD products on medical conditions — which is a violation of FDA guidelines. While CBD has been shown to have beneficial effects on a wide array of conditions, it has not yet been approved as a treatment by the highest regulatory body in the US. A trustworthy label should reflect that status.
You’ve found a CBD vape oil that actually contains the amount of CBD it says — but how much should that be?
This requires a bit of math. First, find out much vape oil your vape pen cartridge holds (many clock in at 1.5ml). Then check the amount of CBD contained in the cartridge amount. Most of the time this works out to one full pen-load, taken periodically through the day, to get to your daily dosage.
One of the good things about vaping is the quick onset of effect, so you can trial differing dosages and see which works best for you. Start with a low dose and adjust upwards, being careful to monitor yourself for effect. When you achieve a noticeable effect on anxiety, pain, or other symptoms you’re taking CBD for, you’ve arrived.
The content on cannabisMD is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.