For months at Cannaceutics, we have heard questions about whether we carry pre-filled cannabis oil cartridges for vape pens. Cannaceutics planned on bringing the cartridges in later in 2017, but there are rumors in the industry that the product inhaled from the cartridges may not be safe.
One study from the Society For Research on Nicotine and Tobacco concluded that vape pens heat at a temperature which forms “carbonyl compounds – namely formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and acetone — [which] increases as the battery voltage output increases. The researchers note that some battery output voltages create these compounds in equal or greater amounts than produced by burning traditional tobacco cigarettes. Formaldehyde and acetaldehyde are known carcinogens and acetone, prevalent in nail polish remover, is an irritant and may suppress the central nervous system in high doses.” The paper concluded that “Vapors from EC [E-Cigs] contain toxic and carcinogenic carbonyl compounds. Both solvent and battery output voltage significantly affect levels of carbonyl compounds in EC vapors. High-voltage EC may expose users to high levels of carbonyl compounds.” These carbonyl compounds are causing symptoms of what is being called “popcorn lung”. The term was coined over a decade ago, when workers in a microwave popcorn factory were sickened by breathing in diacetyl — the buttery-flavored chemical in foods like popcorn, caramel and dairy products. While this flavoring may be tasty, it was linked to deaths and hundreds of cases of bronchiolitis obliterans, or “popcorn lung”.
“Popcorn lung” is a scarring of the tiny air sacs in the lungs caused by diacetyl, resulting in the thickening and narrowing of the airways. While the name “popcorn lung” may not sound like a threat, it’s a serious lung disease that causes coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, similar to the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Before you dismiss the findings because you don’t smoke tobacco, there’s more: almost all nicotine e-juice and cannabis concentrate-infused liquids use either one or a combination of two solvents, glycerine and propylene glycol. CO2-extracted cannabis concentrate, which companies use for vapor cartridges, is often times not viable for use in its natural state because the extract is sticky and must be mixed with a solvent to dilute the solution for use with a device such as a vape pen. The complete health effects of vaporizing cannabis concentrate extracted by butane, propane, CO2 and the like are not yet known, but the established medical field clearly condemns the use of propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin for the use of vaporization as they are not less harmful than tobacco cigarettes but instead the resulting formaldehyde and acetaldehyde produced may be even more detrimental to human health than traditional cigarettes. These solvents should be completely avoided, especially for those who consume just cannabis, with which the medical community has not identified a direct association to cancer or emphysema. Although convenient and discreet there is a bottom line; the use of solvent-based hash pens can be costly for your health.
For information on how a possible ban on e-cig and cannabis oil cartridges could affect availability, visit NM Political Report.