If you’re a new patient to the Ohio medical marijuana program, you might struggle with deciding whether a vaporizer is right for you. A vape pen or “vape” can be a discreet and reliable method of administering your cannabis medicine. However, there are lots of vaporizing devices to choose from, and it all depends on your needs as a patient on whether which device, if any, may be right for you.
The verdict is still out on this question. There is simply not enough research to determine whether vaping is safer than smoking. Ohio has restricted patients to vaporizing instead of smoking (or any method of inhalation that produces combustion). Their reasoning is science-based: the process of combustion creates compounds that can cause lung irritation, making smoking cannabis via a joint or bong a respiratory risk, much like smoking cigarettes.
Vapes, on the other hand, don’t combust your cannabis to heat it. Vaporizers use a variety of methods to heat your flower or concentrated cannabis flower without burning it. The process of vaporization atomizes the cannabinoids in your cannabis into a vapor format that can be inhaled without the carcinogens, tar, and other byproducts of combusted ash.
Vaporizers are also an important tool for many chronic pain patients as it is one way to get a very quickly-activated form of cannabis for acute pain. Within just a few minutes, a vaporizer can begin to relieve pain.
It’s important to note that smoking your cannabis in a bowl, bong, or rolling a joint is illegal in Ohio, as well as many other states. That said, many will still choose to smoke their cannabis because that’s how they prefer to take their medicine. And in fact, some research indicates that smoking cannabis might not be as unsafe as smoking cigarettes as we once thought.
With only minimal scientific research to lean on, it’s really up to a patient to decide how to administer medical cannabis. It’s a personal choice whether to vaporize or administer your cannabis in some other way like a tincture, edible, topical, capsule, or beverage. Many patients, especially those who live in public housing or rental units, may feel the need to use methods that conceal the smell of cannabis.
Because it remains an illegal substance at the federal level, landlords may lawfully evict you for using cannabis. If you’re a medical marijuana patient in a rental situation, you may consider forms like tinctures or capsules which draw less attention to cannabis use than vaporizing or smoking it. However, if you own your own home, you might feel you can exercise the freedom to use your cannabis however you want. In that case, it might be worth exploring whether a vaporizer is worth the money.
Overall, there’s no easy answer. You may find the benefits of vaporizing your medical cannabis, such as their fast-acting effects, or you might find you don’t prefer the way they make you feel during or after administration. Because of this, one piece of advice: Don’t rush right out and buy the latest and greatest device the dispensary is selling the first day you get your card. You may find a few months down the road that you don’t prefer to vape at all. By taking some time to consider your condition and symptoms, your lifestyle, and your experience with vaporizers, you’ll be better equipped to make the right decision when it comes to choosing a vaporizer that suits you.
A few Ohio patients shared their thoughts on the vaporizers they use and what led them to purchase their particular device.
Volcano Hybrid, Storz & Bickel – Patient Michael D.
“Almost quit the Ohio program until I switched to a desktop. Ohio flower is under cured, poor phenotypes and factoring in trichomes being tumbled off, as a first time cannabis user I never felt much relief from Ohio flower and didn’t feel the cost was justified. Once I invested in better technology that changed the game for me and I wanted to stay on board. Using flower that is properly cured and hasn’t had the trichomes removed is bonkers on a desktop. For me I needed better tech to utilize the way Ohio flower can be effective for me.”
Volcano Hybrid, Storz & Bickel – Patient Darlene S.
“It’s an investment but definitely worth it, especially if you rarely leave home for more than a few hours at a time (it’s heavy and not real convenient to lug around).”
“The Storz & Bickel Volcano is the king of desktop vapes. It vapes your medicine into a large plastic bag basically…then you inhale from the bag. Pricey but as good as it gets to my knowledge. However we have 3 boys and I wanted something more discreet and occasionally like to travel with it. I ended up buying the Mighty also by Storz & Bickel. It’s mostly the same tech so you get pretty similar results but in a handheld. I love the Mighty, it’s exceeded my expectations. BTW, the dosing capsules for the Mighty and Volcano are the same and help greatly in keeping things clean and easy to use. I just load up 8 caps and I’m good for a bit.”
Dynavap, Patient Brandon S.
“The dynavap is my favorite vaporizer because of its versatility as well as function and its price is not outrageous.”
In addition to speaking with patients, I also spoke with Big Burn Vaporizers and Accessories owners Debra and Hairston Burnes. These Ohio vape shop owners specifically help medical marijuana patients with selecting vaporizers that suits their individual needs. Some vape shops and head shops in Ohio still operate under a coded policy whereby they don’t speak about cannabis. These shops often expect customers to understand these code words, which can be incredibly frustrating to a new patient just wanting to learn how to use their legal cannabis medicine in their own home and feeling like they are commiting a crime just by asking how to use their concentrates they purchased from the dispensary.
The Burnes’ recommend contacting them if you’re a new patient to the program wanting to learn about vaporizers in a friendly, inviting setting. When you step outside of the often confusing and sometimes overwhelming process of selecting your medicine at the dispensary, you can sometimes receive better counseling on how to use your vaporizer, explains Debra Burnes.
While every patient who wants a vaporizer may have a little bit different needs and desires, the Burnes find they recommend the Aris Switch 3 in 1 fairly often due to its versatility. It’s also great for older patients. Explains Hairston Burnes, “You get to a certain age, you want something that’s easy to use. Something that’s discreet. Something that’s convenient. Me personally, I don’t care for the digital vaporizers, because I got to go find my glasses to read the ones that have the colors. So it really depends on what you’re vaping and how you want to experience your vape. So with this one particular vaporizer, you can do all three with, which was also okayed by the state. You can do wax, you can do oil, as well as flower.”
Burnes also mentioned the Aris Switch’s other benefits: It’s lightweight, very easy to carry, and discrete. He said the draw and cleaning is very simple (alcohol & Q-tip swab).
While some patients may rave about the 3 in 1 units, other patients say they don’t like them. One patient, Dwain G., suggested doing some research before making a vaporizer purchase: “Vapes can get expensive so I recommend getting some suggestions then watching some YouTube reviews so you know what to expect. I’d avoid the all in 1 units. From my research they’re technically “capable” of all the things but mostly [not great]at each of them.”
Late last year, Congress approved a bill called the “Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act” in efforts to reduce the number of (often black market) vaporizers that get into the hands of kids. While the act is aimed at e-cigarettes, the hemp and medical marijuana business will be affected. Effective March 2021, the post office will not transport vaping products to, from, or within the United States. Other shippers such as FedEx and UPS have already noted they will comply with the act as well.
What this means for medical marijuana patients is that you may soon have limited access to purchasing vaporizers and accessories online. Some Ohio dispensaries carry some vaporizer products. However, many do not carry any at all, most do not offer customer service at a level that someone who’s new to vaping might need, and their prices there may be marked up quite a bit higher than at local vaporizer shops.
We recommend locating a local vape in your area shop where the prices, selection, and knowledge of the product may be better than the dispensary. To find out how medical marijuana may help you manage your symptoms, or to renew your medical marijuana card, make an appointment with one of our Duber Medical doctors today.
Author: Gabrielle Dion Visca
Gabrielle has been writing and editing professionally for the medical and wellness industries for more than 20 years. She’s held positions with The Journal of Pediatrics, Livestrong, The Cincinnati Enquirer, and Patient Pop. She currently writes articles about medical marijuana for Duber Medical, and is the founder of the Ohio cannabis journalism non-profit, MedicateOH.