Vaporizing marijuana is not a new thing. E-cigs, on the other hand, are quite new, and it was only a matter of time before people started adapting them to vape marijuana. With the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Colorado and Washington and the widespread availability of the drug for medicinal purposes, the issue isn't as clean cut as it once was. News reporting regularly points towards YouTube videos explaining how to use e-cigs for pot as if they were a clandestine training camp for budding criminals, not a logical extension of the technology given the increasingly liberal approach to the drug. Finding out more about the supposed trend, how people are using electronic cigarettes for marijuana and the potential issues with it helps you see through the sensationalism and really get to grips with the issue.
As you would expect, the use of e-cigs for pot is moving into the public eye, but despite some reports to the contrary, it does still appear to be fairly rare. No arrests have been made yet, and it appears to be confined to people who are allowed to use marijuana medicinally or in states in which recreational use is legal. Generally speaking, it appears that the majority or marijuana users are happy to continue smoking the drug, but there is some undeniable appeal for media outlets in the story that the “big bad” e-cigs are being used for illicit purposes. The “trend” appears to be more of a media creation than a genuinely common phenomenon.
Although it may not be as common as news outlets would have you believe, people do use e-cigs for marijuana. Weed forums have how-to articles on the topic, which usually involve the use of a hash oil or a tincture, but even things like smoke machines (which also use a propylene glycol base) can be modified to vaporize the drug. Of course, e-cigs are the most appealing for this purpose, because most people are well-aware of e-cigs and are unlikely to think it is being used for marijuana. Dedicated marijuana vaporizers might be more effective (and easier to deal with), but the “stealth” value of an e-cig is what drives some users to it.
Thanks to legalization measures and medical marijuana dispensaries, there are also some e-cigs which are quite blatantly designed for marijuana use, such as the Dube Vaporizer. These take the waxy substances and oils, but also have the ability to vaporize the leaves directly, and others such as the CannaCig rely on oils. There is a distinct advantage here in not risking your existing hardware through the use of a non-standard liquid, but there are still several problems with the idea as a whole that may hold marijuana-smoking vapers back.
To Vape or Not to Vape?
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So it’s possible to use e-cigs for marijuana, yes, but should you do it? Well, the whole reason behind the practice appears to be that it makes it more difficult to realize that the individual is smoking pot, but this isn't as clear-cut as it seems. Firstly, the names of marijuana-specific e-cigs give the game away somewhat, but more importantly, the vapor still smells of marijuana, although not as much as if it’s smoked. So, even if you aren't using something with the word “Dube” written on the side, chances are an attuned nose would be able to tell what you were doing anyway. If you live in an area where you’re allowed to smoke pot, this might not be such an issue, but since you’re still not allowed to use the drug in public spaces, there will be a definite temptation to try to sneak by unnoticed.
This is not a wise move. It might not be commonplace to use e-cigs for marijuana, but you can rest assured that cops (and some of your fellow citizens) will know what you’re doing if you try it in public. Even in an area with legalized marijuana, there is still a definite risk you will be caught and punished for it. If marijuana isn’t legal where you live, the problems are the same but understandably more pronounced – you’re breaking the law fairly openly, and there’s a good chance you’ll be caught.
Wanting to vaporize marijuana does make sense, however, for all the same reasons that vaporizing nicotine is advantageous. This is why marijuana vaporizers have existed for some time, and even before e-cigs were a blip on the radar, pot-smokers regularly did so in their own homes. Realistically, this is where vaporized marijuana should stay. It will be more effective (since most e-cigs aren't designed for pot), and you won’t be putting yourself at unnecessary risk of being caught. If you live in a state where you have the freedom to smoke marijuana in your home, then it won’t look good for the “test-run” of legalization if you're doing so where you shouldn't be, and if you don’t, it will look very bad for e-cigs.
As E-Cig Advanced points out in a post on the topic, for the best chance of continuing availability, e-cigs need to be confined to as few regulatory categories as problem. There are already growing concerns about the direction the FDA’s upcoming regulation of e-cigs is going to take, and if marijuana is added to the equation things get a lot more complicated. It could lead to them being seen “drug delivery devices” as opposed to just high-tech nicotine inhalers. It effectively would give the FDA another excuse to impose prohibitive regulations.
It might not be as common as people think, and there are undeniable advantages (such as a reduced smell in your house), but there are many more issues with using e-cigs for pot. For marijuana advocates in Colorado, Washington and the 20 states with medicinal marijuana programs, the use of the drug in non-approved locations could serve as an excuse for lawmakers to come down a little harder on pot. For e-cig advocates, the use of pot with e-cigs may give the FDA an excuse to come down harder on e-cigs as a whole. For the benefit of both groups (and out of respect for those who don’t want marijuana to be consumed in public spaces), if you do choose to vaporize marijuana, you should only do so in your own home.