It seems as if every week a new vape product comes onto the market — this is good news, since taxation in places like Pennsylvania are making things difficult with respects to creating new products in the vaping industry and keeping them cost-friendly for consumers. Let’s take a look at medical marijuana products in particular.
In the state of California, medical marijuana is available (as well as other states in which marijuana has been legalized for recreational use) — but while dried cannabis flowers are still the most popular purchase in California medical marijuana patients, vape use in consuming cannabis is quickly catching up according to the 2016 State of Cannabis.
From Papers to Vapers
In 2015, vape cartridges containing cannabis only compromised six percent of the popular online medical marijuana retailer – Eaze.com’s – total sales. One year later, they saw a 400 percent increase in cannabis e-juice sales, which resulted in an increase of sales from six to 24 percent.
Flower has dropped from 75 percent to 54 percent within the same time frame — it is clear that not only are cannabis consumers changing the way they consume cannabis, but that recreational and medical users alike are finding an increased preference towards vaping their cannabis over traditional smoking.
As more states are legalizing adult medical and recreational marijuana use, cannabis has become more and more accessible to a broader range of people. This gives the vaping, eating, and smoking of cannabis a more mainstream appeal.
For novice users and new patients (depending on what state you live in), many have never tried marijuana and won’t know how to (or want to) roll and smoke a joint. The mess that the bud leaves behind, the stinky smell they would rather not have to smell, and the inconvenience and lack of discretion are huge factors into why medical marijuana users and recreational users are now vaping their MJ though e-juice, primarily.
Vaping is a great way to avoid the messy grinding, the stink, and public nature that smoking marijuana the traditional way has.
Not Your Typical Stoners
Vape industry leaders and shop owners have found that the individuals trying cannabis through vaping are not “your ‘stoners’ of the past,” stated Jamie Feaster, VP of Marketing at Eaze. The newcomers are people who are curious about alternative forms of pain relief (as prescribed by a doctor), baby boomers, mothers, working professionals, and those looking for relief from anxiety and depression as well.
The new, non-traditional cannabis user is actually allowing leading companies to change the stigma and rhetoric around products such as cannabis cartridges for use in vape devices. The vape products that are responding well to users (vapers) are the ones that focus on the effects that they are seeking — the stoners of the past focus on strain names that mean something to them and how it makes them feel in a recreational manner.
However, the new users of cannabis prefer products that are created for and titled according to the effects and experience — and less about the strain and ingredients. This goes for recreational vapers as well, who are showing that their main concerns are to relax, be more active/clear headed, inspired, or seeking something for pain or anxiety relief. This is great information to know as traditional pot from years past makes it difficult to do any sort of analysis or marketing research on what people are seeking.
Now, with real businesses working at creating and distributing medical marijuana and recreational marijuana (among the states where they are legalized), they can now keep track of, analyze, and disseminate information on what the current cannabis user is seeking and using.
According to Jamie Feaster of Eaze, the cannabis delivery service for vapers and cannabis consumers, their customers re more interested in products called “Relax,” “Inspire,” and “Active” — these are examples of consumers targeting their experiences, medical or otherwise. They are not simply there to get high — it is clear that they are trying to accomplish something or (and this is most common) — seeking to lessen pain or other emotional and mental afflictions.
So, What is in your Cannabis Vape Cartridges?
While we’re on the subject of cannabis cartridges and branding, the more that a product’s name deviates from what the substance actually is, the more obscure the vape pen’s ingredients become to the consumer.
Let’s have an example: a pre-filled vape pen called “Relax” is actually a ceramic cartridge and a battery that heats up to 400 degrees. This activates an indica concentration from California with added terpenes (these are aromatic molecules), which helps the user to be more informed about what they’re ingesting.
While vaping is extremely convenient, it comes at a potential cost when dealing with unknown retailers or those who do not offer information on the product — few consumers actually do the research or are informed by the manufacturer about what they are vaping exactly. This includes what chemicals are mixed with the cannabis oil, what materials the hardware is made of, and the percentages of THC, CBD, etc…along with purity, strength, and trustworthiness of the product, and the effects of the cannabis oil.
The vaporizer supply chain is somewhat opaque still and the average person (especially those new to cannabis) has little way to verify that the products they are receiving to vape, are safe to consume.
Most brands are purchasing the vape hardware and cartridges from China, says CEO Adam Lustig of Higher Vision Cannabis. Lustig’s company sells concentrates on their own rather than in pre-filled cartridges. This is because businessmen like him don’t want to sell a product they didn’t make.
Tips and Recommendations
It is recommended that you do your homework before buying and take heed of recommendations. For example, the following:
- Get cartridges with a ceramic core, made from stainless steel (this is because the coil will transmit the flavor of the oil better).
- Look for a convenient, easy-to-use vape pen that is intended for cannabis use.
- Avoid low-grade wire and plastic, which can be unhealthy to vape and dangerous.
- Use a product with terpenes (this is safer than PG and PEG) when vaping cannabis oils
- HOWEVER, buy from a company that is extracting it from cannabis — too many companies are buying terpenes from Amazon and other retailers like citrus terpene solvent D-limonene. Inquire before buying. Demand answers.
- Pre-filled vaporizers nearly always have some sort of additive — many make a concentrate that user either butane solvent or carbon dioxide, while manipulating the cannabinoid and terpene profile, which weakens the MJ’s natural entourage effect — the synergistic relationship that occurs among the various chemical components.
- Make sure the information on the cannabis of your pre-filled vaporizer is listed on the outside packaging. ONLY buy pre-fills that come from the cannabis plant — if you can’t find any you can trust or find worthwhile, load your own.
- Loading your own cannabis cartridge is a way to make sure that no additives are in the cartridge and that you are getting the quality you deserve
- Again, stay away from plastic — there’s no current regulation on actual vape cartridges themselves. If they are plastic, then the plastic burns and can be hazardous itself.
Time to Think like Pharmaceutical Companies?
With cannabis becoming more popular among vapers and the lack of transparency in the creation of cannabis vape pens and cartridges, perhaps it’s time to create standards in the industry and make sure that those selling cannabis products are using quality materials that are safe to use,are not made of plastic, and are grown according to their intended medical or recreational usage.
The vaping industry is evolving and so is the cannabis industry — together, they are becoming more competitive in the marketplace which is great for consumers. Competition means more transparency, better prices, and better quality.
There is a regulation debut in 2018 in the state of California, which may help hold vape companies accountable for the quality and safety of their cannabis products. This would make things much safer for consumers and allow the purity levels to rise and the contaminants to decrease. And that is what people want right now — quality. Vape pens are growing in applications and are not going away.