What’s the Damage?
In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, I thought I’d address the one outstanding drawback of consuming cannabis…health. I sometimes find myself coughing so hard I feel like my lungs will come out of my body. This doesn’t bode well, particularly since I’ve started taking charge of my health this year. I quit smoking cigarettes in January of 2018, and later assumed that smoking cannabis wasn’t anywhere nearly as hurtful. Turns out, I was wrong. Cannabis smoke is just as harmful to your lungs as cigarette smoke, although the chemicals are different. It’s actually the method of consumption that causes the damage. Makes sense; inhaling something that’s burning isn’t the best thing to do for your lungs, ever. In fact if you smoke regularly, it’s likely that you’ll develop a chronic cough or even bronchitis. It also suppresses the immune system, and can increase the chance that you’ll develop a lung infection. This happens because the smoke damages the cell linings that protect your lungs against germs and dust, which means that your lungs become more susceptible to infection.
Solutions: Vaping’s Better
The good news is that there are options that are less damaging. Vaping, for one. The reason for this is that vaping works through heating the cannabis extract below combustion level, so while there’s still a bit of toxicity, as there will be whenever you smoke anything, there’s significantly less. The temperature matters as well. If you’re considering potency, there’s more good news; vaping is actually likely to give you a more potent experience than smoking a joint, although your reaction will always vary based on your specific tolerance level. The less frequently you smoke, the more likely vaping will have a larger effect.
What to Avoid
Vaping cartridges are not made equal, as some of you most likely already know. Some can contain toxic ingredients; you can frequently tell by the consistency of the oil; you want something like the consistency of honey, not too liquidy or too dense. The former will imply artificial ingredients like thinning agents, which create carbonyls, a group of chemicals responsible for causing cancer. (By the way, cancer tends to thrive in overly acidic environments, so if you want to avoid it, the best thing you can do is ensure that you’re consuming enough alkaline foods.) Specifically, you’ll want to avoid vegetable glycerine, medium chain triglycerides, polyethylene glycol 400, and propylene glycol. These ingredient were tested at a temperature of 230 degrees Fahrenheit, and it was revealed that they contained acrolein, formaldehyde, and acetaldehyde. Of these, propylene glycol was noted to release the highest amount of formaldehyde, so you should make sure to go for cartridges without these things. You’ll also want to avoid anything with extra flavoring, as these agents tend to turn carcinogenic too.
What to Look For
What you’ll want is to find companies that have the fewest ingredients in their oil as possible. Also, you can look for brands are certified organic. You shouldn’t go for anything that claims to enhance the experience, like flavor enhancers. You’ll also want to be able to check where the strain that’s used in the cartridge comes from. Most companies will let you know.
Wildflower is one such company; they work with essential oils to create flavors, for one, and their products range from tinctures to vaporizers.
Another cartridge company you can try is Colorado-based HighQ. Their mission is literally to “deliver the highest quality, organically-grown marijuana and a full array of cannabis-infused products”.
Quill is a company based in Washington and Oregon that only uses organically grown strains that they handpick themselves, so you know exactly what you’re getting.