Beginner's Guide to Vaping Marijuana - 2020 Edition


Want to consume a little cannabis while you’re in quarantine? Fortunately, you have plenty of options.

You don’t have to know how to roll a blunt or have the actual marijuana plant in your hand to get stoned. Now that cannabis is legal, more people are starting to explore alternative forms of consumption. And none appear to be more popular than vaping.

Vaping is controversial, but not all information about vaping applies to marijuana. The best way to stay safe while exploring different forms of cannabis consumption is to educate yourself and learn as much as you can about what you’re putting into your body. Use this guide to understand the basics of vaping marijuana and how you can reduce risk while getting high.

What is “Vaping?”

“Vaping” is a nickname for “vaporizing.” When you vape, you use a “vape pen” or “vape pod” to consume marijuana, nicotine, or other substances.

The vape pen or pod is an electronic device that heats up the substances in a cartridge. Once the substances get hot enough, they become vapor. Once that vapor is produced, you inhale through the vape’s mouthpiece. Inhale, exhale, and enjoy.

What Goes In a Vape Cartridge?

The effects of a vape will vary depending on what type of substance or “vape juice” is in your cartridge. Vape devices became popular first as a way to consume nicotine. For many people, it became an alternative to smoking (or a way to quit) traditional cigarettes. These “carts” were usually filled with an e-liquid that contained flavor.

The language around vaping has become confusing, partially because “vaping” both applies to vaping marijuana and vaping nicotine. You can vape other substances, but these are the main two that have become popular. For now, let’s just focus on vaping marijuana.

How is Vaping Marijuana Different From Smoking Marijuana?

There are two ways to vape marijuana: -Place dry herb in a compatible vape cart -Buy a cartridge that contains cannabis oil

Both of these methods have been considered more convenient and even “safer” than traditional smoking.

Vaping vs. Smoking: Convenience

Vaping devices are either rechargeable or disposable. Both make it easy to vape weed oil or dry herb.

Rechargeable devices come with a battery that you can use again and again. The carts typically come filled with your favorite strains, but you’ll need to switch them out when you’re done. (Carts could last you for over a month, especially if you’re a casual smoker.) Refillable carts make it easy to enjoy your own stash with minimal mess.

Disposable devices are great if you are traveling or want to try a new strain without making a big commitment. Simply by the vape pen, use it until the power source runs out, and throw it away! Easy!

Vaping vs. Smoking: Safety

When you light up a joint, you are setting fire to both cannabis and the wrap that makes up your joint or blunt. This creates a reaction called combustion. The byproducts of combustion can be seriously harmful to the lungs. These byproducts include particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon dioxide.

When you vape, combustion doesn’t occur. Vaporization happens at a much lower temperature than combustion and uses no fire. (The ideal temperature for vaping marijuana is between 315 and 392 degrees Fahrenheit.) By vaping, you significantly reduce the amount of harmful byproducts that go into your body.

There are questions about the safety of other byproducts of vaping, but that will be discussed later.

How to Stay Safe While Vaping

This doesn’t mean that vaping nicotine is a death sentence and vaping marijuana is completely safe. Experts believe that Vitamin C Acetate, an additive in some marijuana oil products, may be causing serious harm to vapers.

It’s hard to know whether a product has harmful ingredients. It’s even harder to know if you buy marijuana oil off the street. In order to stay safe, buy from a licensed and trusted retailer. And understand that there might be risks.

Another way to stay safe is to avoid marijuana oil altogether. Buying an oil vape pen is usually more convenient than buying a dry herb vaporizer, but it is generally regarded as riskier. Consider seeking out a pen that will allow you to vape bud that you buy or grow yourself.

How to Choose a Vape That Is Right For You

This isn’t to say that you should throw out your vape pens. Remember, vaping is still regarded as a less risky form of consumption than smoking. So let’s explore the different types of vape pens and why someone may choose an oil pen over a dry herb pen.

Pens vs. Pods

Vaping devices vary in size and shape. Vape “pods” tend to be bulkier. Many resemble the size and shape of a carton of cigarettes. “Pens” resemble a pen. They are thin and discrete. The style and shape of each “pen” varies based on the manufacturer or brand that produces the pen.

The shape and brand may impact the device’s battery life and temperature settings. Be sure to do your research and compare different devices before you buy.

Dry Herb vs. Oil Cartridges

When buying a device, also consider what cartridges are compatible. These carts may be able to vape dry herb or oil. We have discussed some of the risks associated with both carts, but there are other factors to consider.

Adding Marijuana To Your Cart

Many find dry herb vaporizers may be more convenient - most “vape kits” come with a cart and just require you to insert (and eventually replace) dry herb. Not all oil-compatible pens or pods come with refillable carts. You don’t want to be stuck smoking the same three strains over and over again.

Strength

Bud tends to contain up to 30% THC. Concentrates are just that - concentrated. You’ll get up to 90% THC. If you tend to smoke a lot, oil pens may be more convenient and last longer.

Effects

Does it take longer for dry herb or oil to hit? There’s not really a difference. You will likely start to “feel it” 10-15 minutes after you vape.

Reviews

With any product, it’s important to do your research and read reviews. What is the vaping community saying about the pen that you want to buy? What are they saying about the retailers? Take some extra time to read reviews to make sure that your device is right for you.

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