When vaping cannabis, here are some dos and don’ts to consider

On the potential health harms of vaping, Health Canada has been less definitive on cannabis compared to juice and nicotine products

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      The CN Tower was lit up in black and yellow to mark Anti-Vaping Awareness Day on May 3.

      The campaign, started by a high school student to raise awareness on the potential dangers of liquid vapes and e-cigarettes, is backed by Health Canada and includes sending out info kits to students in schools across the Greater Toronto Area.

      The Canadian Vaping Association, the industry lobby representing some 200 retailers, took to social media to criticize the campaign for “confusing smokers”, arguing that tobacco smoke kills 45,000 Canadians every year while vaping “is widely considered as less harmful”.

      The jury is still out on that, according to Health Canada, including when it comes to vaping cannabis, which is generally lost in the debate on vaping.

      Health Canada approved the sale of vapes for cannabis flower and concentrates as part of its 2.0 rollout of edibles, concentrates, and topicals in late 2019. But it makes a distinction between the use of illegal cannabis and vaping devices which “are not quality-controlled and may be contaminated” and regulated devices approved for sale. 

      On the potential health harms posed by vaping cannabis, Health Canada is less definitive saying that generally “Cannabis use has risks, some of which remain unknown, and can have short- and long-term harms to your health, including dependence.”

      The 2019 “vape lung” scare in the U.S. was linked to a number of deaths including patients who reported vaping cannabis as well as nicotine products.

      The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has listed “chemical exposure” as a possible cause of vape lung cases. Health Canada, however, says that “At this time, no consistent product, substance or additive has been identified in all cases. A federal task force was set up by Health Canada last year “to develop a uniform approach to identifying and reporting cases”. 

      But in Canada, most of the 20 or so cases of vaping-associated lung illness identified in 2020 have not been associated with the use of THC-containing products. 

      Provinces and territories have taken different approaches to vaping products. Some have banned their sale to minors. Others have banned their use in public. Product packaging is also regulated and must contain health warnings. 

      Any experienced cannabis user will tell you that there are dos and dont’s when it comes to vaping flower.

      Tips for vaping cannabis

      • Do go slow if you are using concentrate to guard against THC overload. Concentrates can contain up to three to four times the level of THC found in the most powerful cannabis flower. 

      • Don’t burn your flower at too high a temperature to minimize the effects on your lungs. Most quality vaporizes have a number of temperature control settings. If yours doesn’t, get one that does. 

      • Do clean out and refill your bowl regularly. You don’t want to be inhaling the stuff that’s already been vaporized. Let taste be your guide. If it isn't weed you're tasting when you inhale, then it’s time for a refill. A look in your bowl will also help you figure out whether it’s time for a refill. If the flower is browned as opposed to green, then it’s done. 

      • Don’t overdo it. Vaping may remove carcinogens associated with smoking cannabis rolled in paper, but it’s not harmless. 

      • Do monitor yourself for any adverse health effects. Health Canada advises to be aware of symptoms of pulmonary disease including cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain.