Cannabis Vaporizer - How to Take Steps to Overcome a Crisis

Vaporiser

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As the cannabis industry begins to achieve legal status, a wealth of evidence suggests that vaping, once thought of as a healthy technique for the consumption of cannabis, may present more harm to consumers than what was first perceived. 

Poor extraction practices and equipment will be the causes of the next vaporizer crisis, and it may prove to be more damaging than the first one. This article offers key information on the topic.

Contaminated vaporizer pens from producers within the black-market, made thousands of users unwell and killed dozens in 2019. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine published research explaining that the tobacco vaporizers found in the current market are as equally harmful to consumers as cigarettes.

Consumers remain unsure as to whether they should vape at all. Experts in the cannabis industry have now predicted an additional vaporizer crisis with injuries that will appear differently to those observed in the first.

The first vaporizer crisis emerged in August when doctors presented thousands of cases that the Centers for Disease Control came to refer to as an ‘e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury” (EVALI).

Vitamin E acetate, a thickening agent used in vaporizer oils, resulted in alterations to lung tissue, shortness of breath, and nausea. Vitamin E is only one of the causes of damage from the use of vaporizers.

Different contaminants found in vaporizers, which experts say will bring about the coming crisis, comprise pesticides from bad plant material, plastic residues in the oil cartridges and heavy metals found in equipment.

The long-term results of these contaminants that are not well-known will be more difficult to connect to vaping than vitamin E, but they may be more prevalent.

The next vaporizer crisis will come from bad equipment and bad extraction practices, and it could be worse than the first.

Elliot Kremerman, Owner,  Summit Research

Kremerman notes that heavy metals such as chromium may be left in cannabis oil products such as vaporizer pens by the inappropriate processing equipment. Materials from producers based overseas may particularly put consumers in danger.

Vaporizer pens and equipment of poor quality can result in an illness known as hard-metal lung disease, a condition that alters the structure of cells within lung tissue.

Heavy metals such as chromium, cobalt, and cadmium, along with a host of others, harm the lung’s airways by increasing the size of cells. Patients suffer from shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. The damage is normally chronic.

Off-shore companies use lower-quality stainless steel for the extraction vessels, and it’s slightly ferrous,” adds Kremerman. “When you deal with chemicals like pentane or acetone, you can strip those heavy metals off the surface and that’s how you get chromium in your oil.

Elliot Kremerman, Owner,  Summit Research

Cannabis Production Goes Pharmaceutical

The legal cannabis industry has observed a significant shift away from counterculture in favor of corporatism. Logically, a greater amount of cannabis businesses are looking for laboratory-grade equipment and pharmaceutical practices to avoid issues with oil safety. Reputable companies are operating within the cannabis market to solve this challenge.

We’ve been impressed with the cannabis companies we’ve worked with because they’re demanding high-quality products for high-quality oils.

Philip Preston, President, PolyScience

PolyScience has supplied temperature control equipment to manufacturers and laboratories for decades. The fact that its products have found applications in cannabis would have seemed unlikely several years ago.

PolyScience chiller setup

Image Credit: PolyScience

The technologies of cannabis extraction are evolving very quickly in order to deal with these challenges and we want to provide equipment solutions for that evolution. With the right equipment and operating procedures, there’s no reason cannabis can’t meet the same quality standards as the pharmaceutical industry.

Philip Preston, President, PolyScience

In spite of all the negative news regarding the vaporization of oil, cannabis extracts continue to be a key product, and the demand from consumers for craft-quality oil remains high. Licensed producers must respond to this demand as vaporizing pure oil continues to be a potentially healthier alternative to smoking.

If this is not achieved, impatient consumers can fulfill their own needs with a dangerous method known as ‘open blasting.’ The open-blasting technique is where THC oil from dried plant material is pulled by liquid butane, which is then contained within a plastic pipe.

The hands of the processor and the surrounding area are covered with butane. At the same time, explosive vapors are released into the workspace, which is frequently an apartment or house. It is easy for the vapors to ignite if they are exposed to an electrical spark or an open flame.

The US Drug Enforcement Agency has reported 19 deaths as a result of amateur cannabis extraction since 2014 in California alone. Due to the legalization of cannabis, producers now utilize more developed equipment to make sure that extraction techniques are as safe as alternative pharmaceutical methods.

PolyScience chillers

Image Credit: PolyScience

Preventing Future Injuries

The prevention of future injuries as a result of vaporizing proves difficult for many reasons, even though the dangers are transparent. State regulators find it challenging to ensure product safety because cannabis is federally illegal.

Local regulators are in charge of tasks that would be better performed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in municipalities where cannabis sales are legal. These tasks include recalls and random product testing. With no central system for oversight, the protection of consumers from contaminated products can be difficult.

While the majority of states make engineering inspections of extraction systems mandatory, these inspections do not mitigate long-lasting contamination issues.

Third-party engineers make sure that equipment is safe for the operating technicians, but these inspections do not ensure the safety of consumers.

Many states analyze cannabis products for contaminants such as pesticides, but some do not, while some states identify the presence of chromium. With federal support lacking, the cannabis industry must take the initiative to work with state lawmakers to safeguard consumers.

Design companies that adhere to best practices, such as Summit, are developing processing systems that include laboratory-quality equipment from reputable companies like PolyScience.

The cannabis processing industry is a focal point of the laboratory market as a whole. We here at PolyScience see an opportunity to help an emerging industry, and that’s exciting — especially when it affects consumer safety so directly.

Philip Preston, President, PolyScience

Do Cannabis Vaporizers Have a Future?

Many consumers still consider vaporizing as a healthier alternative to smoking, but only if the vaporizer oil lacks contaminants and is inhaled with an effective vaporizer device.

In theory, if consumers of cannabis are allowed to take advantage of the potential of vaporizing, it is a necessity that manufacturers act with greater responsibility. As half of the country still operates within the black market, immediate ethical practice across the entire industry does not seem likely.

The best advice that the FDA can currently offer to consumers is to avoid the vaping of THC products, particularly those that are illegally obtained.

Ultimately, cannabis patients deserve the same quality as everyone else,” explains Preston. “They shouldn’t have to worry about what’s in their medicine, and they won’t have to if proper safety controls are put in place.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by PolyScience.

For more information on this source, please visit PolyScience.

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Comments

  1. Jack Crosley Jack Crosley United States says:

    Can I assume this warning does not include the vaping of cannabis flower?

  2. Giulia Wyllie Giulia Wyllie Mexico says:

    Are vaping products that are NOT oil-based also considered to be potentially harmful? Specifically, I am referring to products that are referred to as shatter, butter/budder, live resin, crumble, wax, etc.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of AZoM.com.

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