People like vaping because it’s a smokeless, convenient, and fast-acting way to consume pleasure-inducing chemicals including THC and nicotine. It’s also potentially quite dangerous—and that’s also true when it comes to vaping cannabidiol, the popular cannabis-derived compound known as CBD. In fact, thanks to a regulatory no-man’s-land, a consumer craze, and manufacturers who dilute extract with oils better suited for salad dressings, CBD vapes are uniquely risky.
“They think, ‘Oh, it’s an oil. I can mix it with another oil and that will thin it and it will make it easier to flow into our vape pen,’ and it’s not harmful because we’re already smoking oil. Well, no. Cannabis extract is not an oil,” says Stem.
“There’s no regulations.”
Quartz contacted two manufacturers of CBD vape pens that contain MCT oil, and neither has replied to our messages. Bloom Farms’ unflavored CBD vape contains no MCTs or other cutting agents. The company’s flavored CBD vape pens contain trace amounts of MCTs—less than 0.3% according to a company representative—and the company is currently phasing them out.
As of Oct. 10, more than 1,200 cases of a mysterious vaping-related illness, and 26 related deaths had been reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is advising consumers to “consider refraining” from vaping altogether. Of the 771 patients the CDC previously reported data on, the majority reported vaping THC and/or nicotine. Only about 17% reported having vaped a CBD product, but there is still good reason for CBD enthusiasts to take note—and even to be especially cautious.
Stem speculates the tendency to mix cannabis extract with MCTs might come down to greed or ignorance, and a misunderstanding of the term “cannabis oil,” which is something of a misnomer since CBD and THC extracts are not fatty lipids at all.
Their testing was completed by Flora Research Laboratories in Grants Pass, Oregon, which is licensed and inspected by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. What they discovered is that 10 of the 30 vapes contained synthetic marijuana while others had no CBD oil at all. Additionally, eight oils had no detectable level of CBD while 14 were less than 0.3% CBD by weight. The other six ranged between 1.07% and 8.87% CBD by weight.
To make matters worse, this lack of certification has lead people to sell vaping liquid they claim contains CBD oil when it actually contains harmful chemicals, which is injuring and killing people in the process. To determine the extent to which this is occurring, the Associated Press (AP) commissioned a study to analyze the contents of nearly 30 oils claiming to contain CBD.
Is Vaping CBD Oil Safe?
Sean is a fact checker and researcher with experience in sociology and field research.
According to the FDA, it is currently illegal to market CBD by adding it to food or marketing it as a supplement. Despite these guidelines, they warn consumers that some CBD products are being marketed with unproven medical claims and are of unknown quality. They also caution consumers that CBD can harm the liver and may interact with other medications you are taking. And, it may even have a negative impact on male fertility.
If you are considering vaping CBD oil as a way to address a medical concern, talk to your doctor first. The risks associated with vaping and CBD oil are significant and may not provide the benefits you want.
Part of the draw to CBD oil in areas where marijuana has been legalized is the fact that it has been touted as helping treat a host of medical problems. Some of the medical issues people claim that the oil treats include epileptic seizures, anxiety, inflammation, and sleeplessness. However, there is very little evidence backing up these claims with the exception of treating epilepsy.
Scientific research suggests that CBD has a wide range of therapeutic properties. Here are some of the benefits and potential benefits studies show that CBD may provide for a variety of conditions.
In addition to being absorbed more quickly, inhalation provides greater bioavailability, which means you can absorb more CBD from the same quantity than you would using other methods. While there is still more to learn about the long-term effects of vaping CBD, vaping is considered to be much safer than smoking, while being equally effective.
CBD interacts with receptors that release the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is partially responsible for causing nausea. In small doses, CBD can help reduce the symptoms of nausea. And an acidic form of CBD called CBDA may be an even more effective anti-nausea drug than CBD or THC, based on early animal studies.
CBD shows huge potential for treating a variety of medical conditions and diseases, and researchers have barely scratched the surface. When federal legalization of cannabis comes, research funding will open the floodgates, and scientists will begin to explore thousands of therapeutic possibilities for CBD and other cannabinoids.
Multiple studies have shown that CBD can effectively treat anxiety. Research using advanced brain imaging has confirmed the anxiolytic effect of CBD. These mood-regulating effects of cannabidiol may also be used to treat depression. Researchers believe that CBD also has the potential to treat other anxiety disorders such as OCD and PTSD.