Am I safe to vape?
September 11, 2019 2:36 PM   Subscribe

I've been reading in the news about people in the US getting sick and dying from vaping nicotine and cannabis extract. I use the PAX2 to vape (legal) marijuana flower. Am I safe?

I never vape extracts, only flower. I live in BC, Canada and all my cannabis is legally obtained. Am I safe or am I better off switching to smoking for now?
posted by noxperpetua to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
"Am I safe" is sort of a complicated question, but the issues with vaping liquids and extracts in the US are totally unrelated to any issues you might encounter using a dried-material-based vape system. They're two distinct kinds of 'vaping' and the rash of vaping-related illnesses all involve the use of liquids/oils, not dried plant matter. You should probably continue avoiding cartridge-based systems since it's unclear exactly how the illness is caused and even legally-obtained liquids or oils could be causing problems -- no one seems to know yet, but the problem may lie with the carrier liquids used in those cartridge systems.

(I think the affected forms of vaping materials are not yet legally sold in BC anyhow, though other provinces do have them and certainly they are a thing in the black/grey market).
posted by halation at 2:46 PM on September 11, 2019 [6 favorites]

Yes. The vape injuries/illnesses are coming from oils, not dried flower.
posted by gnutron at 2:51 PM on September 11, 2019 [7 favorites]

Flower is fine.

Except when its not. If it's laced with ochratoxins or pesticides to prevent fungal growth - or both, then it's not great to consume in any form.

See if you can determine if a particular lot of dried flower is "gamma irradiated." If it was, then the producer probably expected it to fail microbiology, so they zap it with gamma radiation to kill the bugs. However, the dead bugs are all still there and ingesting microbial endotoxins isn't a great idea.

The lung injuries are likely from adulterants to dilute/ step-down concentrates. They have different names depending on how they are produced.

Concentrates are exactly that, solvent extraction of phytochemicals from the cannabis plant. Primary feedstock are trim and leaves and low quality flower. In the unscrupulous market, otherwise unsalable - mouldy, rotten, whatever - material is used. It depends on the solvent but many fungal toxins are easily extracted and concentrated along with the phytochemicals. Many pesticides will also be concentrated in the extraction process.

There is also adulteration of the product to achieve optically desirable appearances, as was probably the case with the vitamin E acetate that appears to be involved in at least some of the cases.

It's very likely mickey-mouse "chemists" are involved, a common MO is "classic stoner culture" advertising. If you want to gamble, look for plain packaged or understated packaging instead.

Making high quality extracts isn't difficult. The business side is when you're competing against iffy product made on the cheap.

If you want to use concentrates, use pure forms like shatter (supercrit CO2) or rosin (mechanical pressure) with a dabbing rig or a electronic pen vape. Evidence of adulteration is very obvious. Shatter looks like translucent peanut brittle with similar brittleness (but is a lot thinner) modulo being exposed to humidity. Rosin is a sticky material with a fair amount of plant matter in it and tends to be darker. More pliable than shatter. Both are typically packaged as a flat splotch on a fold of wax-/ parchment- paper in ~2x3" envelopes.

Kif and hash are probably fine, but benefit more from being smoked and will foul your electric vape device (just needs more frequent cleanings). The later is fine for dabbing rigs.

The Pax3 has an insert adapter and can achieve the temperatures required for these.

Pre-filled sealed disposable cartridges for a specific semi-disposable vaporizer are high risk products for adulteration because of economics. Stuff that comes in a syringe (like THC distillates) are a little less risky but prone to the same attack vector. Distillates are incredible, but difficult to inspect visually. Fresh it can be near colourless, but some can be darker; they all oxidize over time.

This all applies to (presumably nicotine based) "vape cartridges."
posted by porpoise at 3:57 PM on September 11, 2019 [8 favorites]

Oh, missed that you're in BC consuming government pot.

Vape on! Some products will disclose whether they've been gammed or not. I try to avoid those unless there are zero non-gammaed products available.

CA&R (cannabis act and regulations) "concentrates"/ extracts are currently worthless recreationaly because of concentration limits. I don't really believe in tinctures, but those sublingual strips for CBD delivery are legit. But I don't really believe in the benefits of CBD.

You can't buy regulated shatter or rosin in Canada as a consumer; during a tour of the facilities as part of a meeting with a LP (licensed producer) in Quebec, they showed us a 5L beaker filled with 3+ Litres of shatter. More than a quarter million street value.

I know people with access to hydraulic equipment that make their own rosin from regulated cannabis. Expensive, though, especially since government pot is usually over-dried/ stale. I can't wait until a slew of micro-cultivation licenses come online, but recent regulatory changes (full buildout before application) probably snuffed it.

The difference in Federally regulated cannabis and piecemeal State "regulated" cannabis is that there is a mandate for uniform product testing in approved labs. Manufacture also requires cGMP certification - I'm really worried about the edibles coming online, it's not regulated well enough and edibles are a garbage way of getting high.

State-level regulated cannabis in the US is a hell of a lot cheaper than Canadian regulated cannabis, but it is well known that the testing agencies (all commercial operations) are severely corrupt/ inept and the State doesn't care. Whole different ballgame in Canada.
posted by porpoise at 4:11 PM on September 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

Lungs are designed to accept clean air and nothing else. Edibles are always going to be safer - the digestive system is more robust.
posted by w0mbat at 5:04 PM on September 12, 2019

I'm not going to bother fighting you on edibles, but the lungs are protected from any air we're exposed to starting from nose hairs, to mucus to respiratory clilia to alveolar macrophages, etc.

All of these features are evolved through time and selection pressure. Like the flu of 1919 selecting for HLA groups less susceptible to the cytokine storm response to particular antigens, surviving the smogs of the industrial revolution long enough to reproduce was probably a pretty highly selective trait for lung function in getting rid of acute and chronic contaminants.
posted by porpoise at 6:28 PM on September 12, 2019

So, my licensed legal dispensary-purchased "sugar" and "budder" are not considered safe?!
posted by Goofyy at 5:24 AM on September 18, 2019

Goofyy, no idea since I'm not in PA.

Budder (and Sugar) - is it kiff? Captured loosened trichomes from the breaking-down/ grinding process just prior to consumption. Semi-sticky very pale yellow "dust?"

The quality generally varies highly (dependent on starting material) but should be generally safe since the genuine product is difficult to counterfeit/ much less processed and as such less avenues for adulturation.

Very similar to hash, but higher value as there tends to be less long(er)-chain hydrocarbons and whole plant material and moisture.

Often used to spike dried flower, more often when intended for combustion rather than heat vaping. In electric-vapes it vapes "dirty" compared with shatter and a little bit dirtier than BHO (butane hash oil, honey, crumble) but at (lower) temperatures good for dried flower.

Make your own by investing in a 3-stage hand grinder. You load the rough chunks in the top chamber, retrieve ground material in the middle, and the bottom is a reservoir for loosened trichomes.

The fresher your input, the better the output. Older, stale, dried-out stuff generates dust that dilutes out the loosened trichomes.
posted by porpoise at 9:15 PM on October 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

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