The initial legalization of marijuana in Colorado in 2012 spurred on the creation of numerous related products. Marijuana vaporizers can now be filled with oils that contain THC, the compound found in cannabis plants that produces a high. And what was once a sketchy, back-alley production has now become more acceptable in the public spotlight, as legalization of that plant for recreational use expanded to four states and the District of Columbia following the 2014 election.
The rise in e-cigarettes and vaporizers for a nicotine high in the past several years has created an industry that’s expected to be worth $50 billion worldwide by 2025. And as users began to swap out liquid nicotine for liquid pot, the rise of marijuana vaping has begun, too. The e-cigs, which traditionally are the ones that look like a Marlboro and are only sold at gas stations, could be in competition with e-joints that first hit the market from Dutch inventors in June 2014. But the E-Njoint doesn’t contain THC, the substance that causes psychoactive reactions and produces a “high.” It does, however, allow users to refill it with the pot plant and smoke it, minus the paper wrapping.
Enter vaporization. It started to become a practice when portable vape pens were made for refillable oil canisters created for liquid nicotine hits. But with marijuana, the CO2 oil often used in the pens creates a different sort of high, and one that can be much more potent than smoking a few flowers. The oil is created by using pressure and carbon dioxide to separate the plant materials, and can contain up to 80% THC. It’s counterpart, hash oil, is extracted using butane. Though buying the liquid isn’t the same risk as making it yourself, smoking it “isn’t for beginners,” according to one news report.
Companies such as Dank Tanks have sold oil cartridges for a few years, though only out of shops in California. The company promises their oil is butane- and tar-free, and promises “monster hits.” (A few columnist reviews back up their claims.)
And though studies related to marijuana vaping are scant, there are several studies that suggest vaping in general is a healthier alternative to smoking. One research paper from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute found that, “the levels of the toxicants were 9–450 times lower than in cigarette smoke and were, in many cases, comparable with trace amounts found in the reference product.” The study also found that substituting vapors for smoke could substantially lower the risk of exposure to toxins that are often created by combustion.
With the expansion of the vaping market, products can range from starter kits that are less than $20 to high-end products that can cost more than $400. The options also range from pot-specific products to portable vape pens that work for liquids filled with either nicotine or THC. Let’s take a look at five vaporizers that provide a healthier, safer high.
1. Juju Joints
The Seattle-based company offers single-use vaporizers that contain about 3 grams of cannabis for each 150-hit e-joint. And because the oil is vaporized, the room you’re in won’t start to smell like a college dorm room. The company states the average e-joint has about 7.5 minutes of inhalation time. One of the perks of single-use e-joints, they say, is that chargers aren’t required, and it’s ready at any time. Market prices fluctuate because the sales aren’t regulated, but the company references costs between $25 and $70 on its website.
2. Pinnacle Pro by VaporBlunt
The vaporizer has five heat settings and has compartments for vaporizing oil or the plant itself. One reviewer for The Cannabist named it one of the best vaporizers to hit the market in 2014, and said despite high heat, the pen works well and is fairly discreet. The vaporizer has a 50-minute battery life and can be used with water pipes, if desired. The pen retails at $199 directly on Vapor Blunt’s website.
3. PAX by PAX Labs
Though marketed on its website primarily for tobacco use, the vaporizer can also be used to vape loose marijuana. The simplistic design seems to appeal to customers, as the company reduced its price from $249 to $199 after selling more than 500,000 of the devices. A second generation device, PAX 2, retails for $280. The battery lasts for up to five reloads and charges within 2 hours. It also comes with a 10-year warranty.
4. VapeXhale Cloud EVO
Marketing as a high-end vaporizer, the device vaporizes shredded materials. The machine uses a bowl and a HydraTube, rendering the vaporizer less portable than other options. VapeXhale redesigned the device so that it heats up faster and is more lightweight. Starter kits, on sale directly from the company, retail for between $350 and $450 and boasts the “healthiest, thickest, and tastiest vapor possible.”
5. Cannastick Essential Oil Starter Kit
The company offers vaporizers for herbal, wax and oil materials in a variety of sizes. The oil starter kit comes with a Mini stick, refillable oil tank, a mouthpiece and other accessories. The company also offers “vape juice” for between $7 and $25, which contain CBD-infused oils. The starter kit retails on the company’s site for $30.
Though regulations for the vaping industry are sure to come, the free market now offers a wide selection of products. And in oil-based vaping products, the high can be better than lighting up a joint — both in terms of health and potency.