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Everything Canadians need to know about vaping cannabis

December 16, 2019
vapes hand holding vape; vaporizers vaping cannabis
Jesse Milns/Leafly

Wether you’re looking to buy a legal vaporizer in Canada, or simply curious about what it means to vape cannabis, you’ve come to the right place. Learn everything you need to know about vaporizing cannabis in Canada here.

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What is vaporizing?

Vaping cannabis means heating flower or concentrate to the temperature required to release its active ingredients, but before it combusts. The active ingredients—mainly cannabinoids and terpenes—are released in the form of vapour, which is inhaled.

Since combustion does not occur, smoke is not created, which is why vaporizing flower (aka bud) is considered healthier than smoking. Vaping concentrates (such as rosin, shatter, and wax) may also be healthier than smoking, although this is a matter of scientific debate, and depends very much on how the concentrate and its associated vape was made.

See our safety tips below for more details, but if you only remember one thing, it should be this: legal, regulated cannabis products and vaporizing devices are always the safest bets.

What are vaporizers?

Simply put, cannabis vaporizers are devices that transform flower or concentrate into inhalable vapour. Devices can be small and portable or large and durable. They can be designed to vaporizer cannabis flower, cannabis concentrates or both. They can be reusable or disposable and come in a variety of price points. Learn more about vapes on the Canadian market here:

Vape safety

Not all vaporizers are dangerous—in fact, some are sanctioned by Health Canada as medical devices, and recommended by doctors as a quick way to experience cannabis’s therapeutic effects.

In 2019, Leafly broke several stories on vape-associated pulmonary injury, or VAPI, a sometimes-deadly phenomenon associated with illegal vape pens in the US and Canada.

But not all vaporizers are dangerous—in fact, some are sanctioned by Health Canada as medical devices, and recommended by doctors as a quick way to experience cannabis’s therapeutic effects. Importantly, the vape pens causing illness and injury were either sold illegally or filled with unregulated additives—namely vitamin E oil, also known as tocopherol acetate.

Vaping-related illnesses are not associated with vaporizing dry cannabis flowers. The illness is linked to vape pens and e-cigarettes which use e-liquid, rather than cannabis flowers.

Learn more about the vape crisis in the US here and hear what Health Canada has to say about safe vaping here:

Safe vaping dos and don’ts

Do:

    • Only purchase Health Canada-approved cannabis vaporizers and/or vape pens from regulated vendors (e.g. legal cannabis stores, medical clinics or licensed producers of cannabis)
    • Consider vaporizing dry flower instead of using a vape pen

Don’t:

    • Purchase illicit market cannabis products, especially THC-infused e-liquids
    • Purchase vape cartridges from corner stores or online unregulated retailers, as these are illegal

    Frequently asked questions: Vapes and “Legalization 2.0,” your questions answered

    When will cannabis vaporizers be legal in Canada?

    Canadians have been able to legally purchase dry flower vaporizers for quite some time now. On December 17, 2019, licensed vendors will be also allowed to sell concentrate-filled vape pens, as well as cannabis concentrates.

    Where can I buy vape pens?

    Availability is expected to be limited in the early days, as companies are still developing their production and distribution networks. But pre-filled vape pens and concentrates will be available for sale at legal retailers—find your nearest one here.

    Vaporizers that are not already filled with cannabis are, legally closer to a technological device than a cannabis product, and can already be purchased from a number of stores, medical clinics, and licensed producers.

    Will concentrate vapes be legal across Canada?

    Although the Cannabis Act is a federal bill, provinces, territories, and municipalities still have jurisdiction over certain decisions—such as how old you must be to purchase or consume cannabis, how legal cannabis is sold and distributed, and where stores are located. Citing recent health concerns, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador are opting to ban sales of new vape products, such as concentrate-filled pens. Subscribe to Leafly Canada’s newsletter to stay up-to-date on vape availability in your province.

    Can I take my vape across the border?

    Travelling internationally with cannabis is illegal, and could land you in a lot of trouble. Travelling with a new, clean vaporizer (i.e., one that does not contain cannabis or cannabis residue) may be legal in some cases, but it is not advisable, as it could draw unwanted attention, potentially leading to arrest, charges or a travel ban.

    Where am I allowed to vape cannabis?

    Regulations vary between municipalities, although they often mirror regulations around smoking. Check with your town or city council to learn the rules in your area.