What You Need to Know About Vaping THC Oil
Adah Chung is a fact checker, writer, researcher, and occupational therapist.
As more and more states legalize marijuana and cannabis plants, people—especially young adults and teens—are starting to become curious about what products are available to them. Additionally, many are experimenting with vaping these products, usually in the form of THC oil and CBD oil. However, it’s important to note that CBD oil and THC oil impact the body in completely different ways.
What Is THC?
Both CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are the most common cannabinoids found in cannabis products. And even though they are both found in marijuana and hemp, THC is more prevalent in the marijuana plant than it is in the cannabis plant.
THC also affects your body differently than CBD does. Even though it works like CBD to impact neurotransmitters in your brain, THC is the main psychoactive compound found in marijuana and is the substance that will make you feel “high.”
Additionally, it’s believed that in addition to giving you a euphoric feeling, THC also impacts pain, mood, and other feelings. CBD on the other hand does not make you high and is believed to work with other receptors in the body to produce an overall feeling of well-being.
Even though several states allow medical marijuana that contains THC, it is still illegal under federal law. Some states have even made recreational marijuana legal, but it’s also illegal under U.S. law.
What You Need to Know
Recreational use of marijuana, which contains THC, is now legal in 11 states. But the Food and Drug Administration has not approved the use of THC and it remains classified illegal under U.S. law. Still, people are experimenting with the drug more and more frequently by either smoking it, eating it, or vaping it.
Marijuana use, and more specifically vaping THC oil, is on the rise according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In fact, in 2018, more than 11.8 million young adults had used marijuana in the last year. Meanwhile, the number of teens in 8th and 10th grades who say they use it daily also has increased. Additionally, nearly 4% of 12th graders say they vape THC daily.
Vaping THC oil involves heating the oil and inhaling it through a vaporizing device like a vape pen or an e-cigarette. Some people believe that vaping THC oil is safer than smoking because it doesn’t involve inhaling smoke. But the issue is that vaping hasn’t been around long enough and there isn’t enough research to really determine whether or not it’s safer.
Recent research suggests that vaping THC oil, especially oil that contains vitamin E acetate, can be particularly harmful to your lungs. Vitamin E acetate, which is regularly added to THC when preparing it for use in e-cigarettes and vaping devices, is particularly harmful when it’s inhaled.
For instance, in September 2019, health officials began investigating an outbreak of a severe lung disease associated with vaping and e-cigarettes. By December 2019, more than 2,800 cases of the lung disease, often referred to as EVALI, had been reported across the United States.
Additionally, nearly 70 people have died so far from the disease and as vaping continues to grow in popularity, the number of deaths is likely to increase. What’s more, 82% of the people hospitalized reported using THC-containing products and 33% reported exclusive use of THC-containing products.
Consequently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that people avoid using e-cigarettes and vaping products, particularly those that contain THC oil. Even just vaping the oil once can significantly impact your lungs.
In fact, a study that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that first-time and infrequent users of marijuana were more likely to experience adverse reactions from vaping THC oil. They indicated that these negative impacts were largely due to the enhanced delivery of the oil through vaping. The participants in the study also had more pronounced effects from the drug and experienced significant impacts to their motor skills and cognitive abilities.
Meanwhile, another study published in Addiction found that while vaping nicotine may be safer than smoking cigarettes, the same may not hold true when it comes to marijuana. In fact, additives, like vitamin E acetate may make that delivery method even more dangerous than simply smoking a joint, putting the vaper’s lungs at a greater risk for injury. Yet, a Gallup Poll indicates that most Americans believe that vaping is less harmful than smoking. In fact, 40% of the respondents felt that marijuana was “not too” harmful.
Ultimately, vaping THC oil can lead to a substance use disorder. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, between 9% and 30% of people who use marijuana develop some sort of substance use disorder. And, people who begin using marijuana before they turn 18 are four to seven times more likely than adults to develop a marijuana use disorder.
A Word From Verywell
If you’re considering vaping THC oil, you might want to reconsider given the fact that it can have such a negative impact on your lungs. Vaping THC oil can lead to a substance use disorder, which in severe cases can become an addiction.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.
Vaping marijuana or THC oil is growing in popularity, but is it safe? Find out all you need to know about vaping THC oil and how it impacts the body.
Everything You Need to Know About Vaping CBD Oil
Sean is a fact checker and researcher with experience in sociology and field research.
Vaping has been around for more than a decade now and is growing in popularity—especially among teens and young adults. One of the newest trends impacting this growing vape culture is the desire to vape cannabidiol (CBD) oil. In fact, using this oil in vape pens is becoming increasingly popular and the industry is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years according to the Brightfield Group, a firm that studies the CBD market.
Part of the draw to CBD oil in areas where marijuana has been legalized is the fact that it has been touted as helping treat a host of medical problems. Some of the medical issues people claim that the oil treats include epileptic seizures, anxiety, inflammation, and sleeplessness. However, there is very little evidence backing up these claims with the exception of treating epilepsy.
In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved only one CBD-based medication, which is used to treat seizures associated with two severe forms of epilepsy. But, when it comes to CBD in general, they stress that it cannot be added to food, drinks, or dietary supplements. And although the FDA has warned manufacturers against making unproven health claims, it has not done much to stop the sale of CBD products.
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is extracted from the flowers and buds of marijuana or hemp plants. Typically, it does not produce a “high” or intoxication because it contains very little, if any, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In fact, CBD oil is only permitted to contain less than 0.3% of THC. CBD oil is legal in states where medicinal or recreational marijuana is legal. Meanwhile, several other states have CBD-specific laws on the books even though marijuana is not yet legal there.
According to the FDA, it is currently illegal to market CBD by adding it to food or marketing it as a supplement. Despite these guidelines, they warn consumers that some CBD products are being marketed with unproven medical claims and are of unknown quality. They also caution consumers that CBD can harm the liver and may interact with other medications you are taking. And, it may even have a negative impact on male fertility.
Is Vaping CBD Oil Safe?
Generally speaking, vaping is an unsafe practice regardless of what substances are in the vape pen. And, CBD oil is no exception. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently linked vaping products to an outbreak of nearly 3,000 lung illnesses that were so serious that even young people were being admitted to the hospital. Meanwhile, nearly 70 people have died from what is now being called EVALI (e-cigarette and vaping associated lung injury). And, the CDC believes thousands more may have admitted to the hospital with lung issues related to vaping.
Although the CDC has traced many of the EVALI hospitalizations back to vitamin E acetate, a substance used to dilute oils used in vaping, the risks of vaping CBD oil are not without risk, especially if the vape pens are obtained from illicit dealers, online sources, or friends. At least 26 of the EVALI cases were hospitalized after vaping CBD oil.
Additionally, numerous scientists, doctors, and researchers are concerned with the safety of inhaling CBD oil because little is known about the long-term effects. What’s more, when vaping devices are heated, a chemical reaction takes place in the vapor, which could pose additional risks to the lungs, especially in young people.
And despite the fact that the 2018 Farm Bill removed CBD from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act, it is still subject to the same laws and regulations as other substances monitored by the FDA. Unfortunately, though, there is very little regulatory oversight of CBD oil in general—even though vaping is one of the most popular ways of using the oil. In fact, the FDA has not yet determined how to regulate CBD vaping products just yet.
But many people are hoping those regulations will happen soon. Even the CBD industry is concerned and asking for oversight. For instance, without more regulations, organizations like the U.S. Hemp Authority are unable to certify CBD oils as it does with CBD topicals, tinctures, and edibles. And, until that happens, consumers have very little way of knowing what they are getting when they purchase a CBD oil.
To make matters worse, this lack of certification has lead people to sell vaping liquid they claim contains CBD oil when it actually contains harmful chemicals, which is injuring and killing people in the process. To determine the extent to which this is occurring, the Associated Press (AP) commissioned a study to analyze the contents of nearly 30 oils claiming to contain CBD.
Their testing was completed by Flora Research Laboratories in Grants Pass, Oregon, which is licensed and inspected by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. What they discovered is that 10 of the 30 vapes contained synthetic marijuana while others had no CBD oil at all. Additionally, eight oils had no detectable level of CBD while 14 were less than 0.3% CBD by weight. The other six ranged between 1.07% and 8.87% CBD by weight.
Because this testing was a such a small sample, the AP noted that their sampling is not representative of the entire CBD market. However, their testing does show just how risky it is to vape CBD oil when there is little to no regulation of the product. Vapers have no idea what they are getting when they take a puff.
A Word From Verywell
If you are considering vaping CBD oil as a way to address a medical concern, talk to your doctor first. The risks associated with vaping and CBD oil are significant and may not provide the benefits you want.
And if you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area. For more mental health resources, see Verywell’s National Helpline Database.
Vaping CBD oil is common, especially after claims about its medicinal properties. But, is it true? Sort out the facts about CBD oil and its safety.