The initial legalization of marijuana in Colorado in 2012 spurred on the creation of numerous related products. 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 estimated to be worth about $1.5 billion. 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 started being 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 byusing 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 is “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...