For those of you in a hurry, we’ll cut straight to the chase. Are weed vape pens safe? It depends.
There are inherent risks to inhaling anything that’s been ignited. And smoke is never good for you. This has led many people to advocate that vape pens are a safer method of consuming cannabis. And they very well might be. Some of the known risks of smoking marijuana (such as smoke inhalation) are virtually eliminated by switching to vape pens. However, it’s entirely possible that vape pens bring their own set of risks, and the research and regulation enjoyed by most other industries just isn’t there yet to definitively say much.
A lack of research
For an example of the issues surrounding vape pen safety, let’s look at cuticle wax. During normal marijuana consumption, this substance (the lipids from the outer layer of the marijuana leaf) is burned away. With vaporization it is not. Some scientists have expressed concern that cuticle wax could build up in the lungs and cause health problems later in life. But since no official research into this potential hazard exists, there is no data other than anecdotal evidence to prove or disprove this idea.
Cuticle wax is just one example. There are similar concerns over butane added to lighter fluid to keep it moving easily through the pumps and the creation of formaldehyde during the vaping process. None of these concerns can be definitively pinned down one way or the other due to a lack of research.
A lack of regulation
If half of the concern is lacking research, the other half is lacking regulation. Some marijuana oil companies have preemptively addressed various health concerns. For example, many avoid the use of butane entirely. But because the legal marijuana industry is so new, and not yet legal at the federal level, there is a severe lack of regulation.
It is nearly impossible to know if the concentrates you’re buying have been manufactured with all the care in the world or if they’re steeped in pesticides and carcinogens. Most agencies that would be of any use, like the FDA or EPA, are federal agencies, barred from doing much research or regulation of marijuana products thanks to the ongoing federal ban. And it’s difficult for state agencies to do much without the aforementioned research. Hopefully one day in the future, we’ll be able to put our country’s various industries to work ensuring the safety of everyone who enjoys recreational or medicinal marijuana, but for now, the safety of your vape pen can be assumed but not guaranteed.