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5 things you should know about vaping CBD

November 18, 2019
vaping cbd, cannabis, marijuana
(HighGradeRoots/iStock)

To vape or not to vape, is it even a question? Vaping has quickly become one of the most popular methods of cannabis consumption—so much so that the emerging market sees an influx of new CBD vape products each day. With product catalogues being flooded with these products, it’s important that consumers stay informed about CBD vaping so you’re able to find which products are right for your body.

Here are a few key things to know about vaping CBD.

1. There are plenty of safe options

By now you’ve seen the news about people being seriously sickened and even dying from consuming sketchy vape products tainted with vitamin E oil.

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As long as you’re buying legal lab-tested products from reputable retailers, there’s no reason to believe this will be your fate. To date, there’s no evidence of a tainted CBD vape cartridge sourced from the legal market (though it is not a 100% impossibility). With such a long history of fear mongering, it can be hard to know what’s dangerous and what’s perfectly safe when it comes to cannabis. The proper way to combat this is through education—and Leafly is here to help you with that.

2. Full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate

CBD oils can be divided into three types: full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate.

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Full-spectrum CBD products contain the full array of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds produced by its source plant. With CBD products, CBD will be the most pronounced cannabinoid, but these products may also include low levels of THC. A CBD product is unlikely to produce a high with only trace levels of THC (less than 0.3%), but it’s important to be aware of if you’re looking to avoid THC altogether.

Many consumers consider full-spectrum products to be the most effective due to the “entourage effect,” which refers to the theory that cannabis works best when all of its natural ingredients work together rather than in isolation. More research is needed to understand the entourage effect and to what extent it does result in more potent benefits—still, many swear by it anecdotally.

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Broad-spectrum CBD products contain all of the cannabinoids but with THC removed. Because of this, most (if not all) of these products are produced from industrial hemp, which naturally produces far less THC than traditional cannabis. By retaining cannabinoids and terpenes, broad-spectrum CBD still produces the entourage effect— just without any THC.

CBD isolate products are pure CBD, meaning they contain only CBD and no other cannabinoids or terpenes. Because of this, CBD isolates lose the essence of the plant and have no aroma, but are still able to promote wellness qualities attributed to CBD. Much like broad-spectrum CBD products, CBD isolate products are typically derived from industrial hemp.

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3. Vaping CBD flower vs. CBD oil

Vaping CBD can provide a variety of experiences, depending on how you consume it.

For one, vaping flower requires a flower vaporizer—like the portable Zeus Arc GT or the tabletop Volcano—while vaping oil requires a portable 510 thread battery like a Vessel, or proprietary pod systems like the PAX Era.

CBD flower will deliver a less concentrated dose of CBD than CBD oil, but it provides the most complete experience because it hasn’t lost any of its terpenes, cannabinoids, or other active compounds through extraction.

CBD-dominant flower typically has somewhere between 7-15% CBD. CBD flower contains some THC—anywhere from just trace, physically undetectable amounts to more significant levels that will lead to a gentle high.

So yes, vaping CBD flower will give you all of the wellness benefits of CBD, but may also get you high, even if it’s just a baby bit. Great strains to search for this experience include ACDC, Charlotte’s Web, and Cherry Wine.

CBD oil, on the other hand, will have a higher concentration of CBD due to the extraction process that isolates the compound. Many companies add terpenes after this process to encourage a more nuanced and flavorful experience. This is why many CBD oils have between 60-80% CBD, with varying levels of terpenes and other compounds.

Both flower and oil deliver the therapeutic properties associated with CBD, so the choice ultimately comes down to consumer preference. Vaping CBD oil will most likely provide a lighter high than flower, even if its full spectrum, due to the loss of other compounds during extraction. CBD oil is also an easier and more efficient consumption process—it portable, discreet, and easy to dose.

4. How to read CBD labels for potency

CBD vapor products produced from broad-spectrum or isolate oils, will have no THC. Even though they have the highest CBD percentages, they shouldn’t deliver any intoxicating cerebral effects.

Other CBD products have an equal balance of CBD and THC, and can only be purchased at a cannabis shop in areas with adult-use cannabis laws. Vaping these products will get you high, but are less potent than a THC-dominant oil.

It’s important to know the difference when reading labels for potency. CBD flower packaging will always have the CBD and THC numbers on the label. And at this point, in addition to the cannabinoids, some will also provide terpene percentages. Same goes for CBD oil cartridges, but they’ll also be more descriptive with the type of CBD (i.e., full spectrum, broad spectrum, isolate).

5. Where to buy CBD vapes

After learning of the various CBD products, the next and final question is: where should you buy CBD vape products from?

To buy CBD products derived from cannabis, you’d need to be in a legal state with access to dispensaries. This would be the best place to purchase full-spectrum products that are guaranteed lab-tested in compliance with local laws.

Because they contain less than 0.3% THC, you can obtain hemp-derived CBD products from dispensaries, grocery stores, online retailers, and even directly from the producers’ websites.

It is important to note that both products from cannabis and hemp can be labeled as full spectrum, but they are not one in the same. Hemp products as labeled this way because they capture the full chemical profile of the hemp plant. Though technically full-spectrum, these products may not provide the complete experience that many consumers associate with full-spectrum products from the more chemically diverse cannabis plant.

With full-spectrum CBD from hemp, broad-spectrum CBD, or CBD isolate products, the vetting process becomes a lot trickier due to the lack of FDA regulations. For these products, you’d need to purchase from a marketplace with clean, trusted, verified products. To learn more about what to look for when buying hemp-derived CBD, check out this guide.

Dante Jordan's Bio Image

Dante Jordan

Dante Jordan is an Associate Subject Matter Expert for Leafly, where he specializes in informational and lifestyle content pertaining to cannabis strains and products. He also manages the Leafly strain database.

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  • Bri

    CBD wax is the most pleasant experience. You need a good vaporizer. The terpenes really stand out just like in your THC rosin products.

  • Doug Mers

    High CBD concentration vapes will want to crystallize. Many hemp legal manufacturers use MCT oil to dilute, some use third party diluents that have unknown hazards, and there is suspicion that some use crystallization inhibitors with unknown hazards at vaporization temps. Definitely buy high CBD vapes from manufacturers who don’t use MCT, unsafe diluents, and crystallization inhibitors. Additionally only from states with the right testing regulatory framework for these products.