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.
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.
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.
Is Vaping CBD Oil Safe?
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.
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.
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.
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.
See our guide on how to get the right dosage for vaping CBD, based on your personal needs. It is highly recommended that you start with the lowest possible dose and gradually increase in 5 mg intervals as needed.
CBD pods are similar to CBD oil cartridges, but with a modern twist. They’re compatible with a JUUL battery, which is one of the most popular vapes on the market today. JUUL users can now easily swap between CBD or nicotine, just by snapping in a JUUL-compatible CBD pod.
Determine your CBD dosage
Most CBD vape juice is made of food grade ingredients and is safe to consume, but not all CBD oil can be vaped — some products are for oral consumption only. See our guide on what to know before vaping CBD oil, to make sure you’re purchasing the right one. In this guide, we cover the most common ways to vape CBD e-juice and how to do it properly.
These are the most common devices used to vape CBD vape juice. Some are easier to use than others, but you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to vape CBD e-juice, it’s simple. If you feel intimidated at first, just start with the easiest option and work your way up. Disposables, cartridges and pods are the simplest option if you’re new to vaping. Refillable vape pens are slightly more advanced, but more cost effective in the long run.
CBD oil cartridges are slim cylindrical vape tanks that come pre-filled with CBD vape juice or CBD distillate. CBD oil cartridges require a vape pen or a 510 thread battery compatible with standard 510 cartridges. They typically hold around 0.5 mL to 1 mL of CBD vape juice, and are the second easiest way to vape CBD, next to disposables.
In May of this year, the FDA held a public hearing where more than 100 stakeholders—patients, manufacturers, and researchers among them—testified about their experiences with CBD. Now, the industry is waiting for a timeline for regulation, which was expected this autumn, but has yet to appear. In the meantime, the FDA considers interstate sale of CBD as a food additive or nutritional supplement (ie., all those candies, canned sodas, and tinctures) to be illegal. But it’s not enforcing the law so long as operators in the estimated $590 million market for hemp-derived CBD adhere to the broader rules for the categories they fall in, whether that’s food, supplements, or cosmetics.
Neal Benowitz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who has studied the pharmacology of e-cigarettes, says that CO2 extraction process is “pretty clean,” and the results are well-known.
A brief legal primer
While no single brand, product, or ingredient has been identified as the cause of the 1,000-plus cases of vaping-associated pulmonary injury—first called VAPI and now renamed EVALI—we do know that many of the affected patients were vaping illicit, and therefore unregulated, THC products. Tests showed many of those contained vitamin E acetate, an oil derived from vitamin E—which is considered safe for skincare but not for inhalation.
The difference between cannabis and industrial hemp in the eyes of US law is the content of THC, the intoxicating compound in cannabis: If a plant contains more than 0.3% THC by dry weight, it’s cannabis, and still considered federally illegal despite the many states with legalized recreational and medicinal use. If it’s less 0.3% THC by dry weight, it’s considered hemp, which is being incrementally regulated by government agencies. The 2018 Farm Bill removed industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, essentially declassifying it as a dangerous controlled substance of no medical use, clarifying its status as an agricultural product, and making it legal under federal law under some circumstances.
Some of those companies are those that come from the cannabis industry, and therefore have years of experience with extraction and testing.