Increase potency and discretion are two of the biggest selling points of portable weed vaporizers, yet the wide variety of vaporizers available today can easily overwhelm consumers with choices.
A concentrate pen or a dry herb vaporizer? Marijuana cartridges or hash oil pods? Is it reloadable or disposable?
As the marijuana industry continues to scale across the US, businesses are looking to distance themselves from the marijuana use caught in the pop culture of stoner films, leading to the development of discrete products and sleekly designed technology aimed at attracting customers through potency, portability, and discreteness.
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Changing Perceptions in a Growing Industry
The pace the marijuana industry is gaining territory in the US directly reflects a true discord in society – the criminalization of marijuana use has done little to slow the demand for its use.
29 states have now medical marijuana laws and eight (8) states plus the District of Columbia have recreational marijuana laws on the books, allowing adults 21 and up to possess and use marijuana with certain limitations. Several states have even altered the criminal penalties for using or possessing marijuana, known as decriminalization, replacing them with civil penalties such as a fine or community service.
At the same time marijuana laws have become more reflexive and accepting of marijuana use, advances in extraction engineering have allowed for marijuana concentrates such as Co2 oil, wax, dabs, shatter, live resin, and distillate to enter the industry. With cannabinoid concentrations often at 60% or higher, concentrates deliver a stronger high with less total use.
As e-cigarettes have introduced cigarette smokers an alternative to smoking, so too has portable vaporization technology changed how marijuana users consume the plant or its products. Similar to e-cigarettes which use specialized vape juice loaded into a cartridge, marijuana vaporizers often utilize cartridges filled with cannabis oil.
Portable marijuana cartridges are easy to use and easy to dispose of. And while the cannabis oil contained within is going to be more potent than traditional smoked flower, both vape pens and hash oil cartridges have potential downsides.
The Benefits of Using Marijuana Cartridges
When compared to traditional smoking, using concentrated marijuana oil cartridges to medicate can benefit users in several distinct ways. Additionally, the shift of technology leading to portable vaporizers can help businesses and users obscure the negative view of marijuana in society, allowing marijuana use to become further normalized within a day to day life.
Marijuana cartridges can be strain-specific
Marijuana cartridges are becoming as diverse as marijuana strains, allowing consumers the option to pick up their favorite strain in a concentrated form for use on the go.
The rapid expansion of the marijuana industry across the US, taking just over two decades to get from the first medical marijuana laws to where we are now, has created an environment where educating the public on the various strains, their cannabinoid and terpene profile, is secondary to actually selling the plant or its products. Dispensary workers, budtenders, and growers are able to introduce consumers to an ever expanding variety of strains and strain-specific products. Emerging as the next tier from “sativa, indica, or hybrid?”, the strain-specific focus of marijuana cartridges can propel the user experience into an appreciation of their favorite flavors and effects from the comfort of anywhere.
Marijuana cartridges are disposable or refillable
Commonly, cartridges come prefilled with an extracted oil, though some dispensaries will sell their cannabis oil in a syringe or a small bottle for easy refilling.
Some producers use butane or alcohol as the solvent when making their cannabis oil while others use Co2. The quick evolution of cannabis extraction has boosted the concentrate industry, creating several tiers of concentrates and, by extension, several levels of product quality.
Distillate cartridges are often the most expensive hash oil cartridge in legal markets, given the complexity of molecular distillation, yet the result is a product testing up to 99% THC potency with no smell (unless the terpenes are reintroduced).
Downsides of Using Marijuana Cartridges
Using a cartridge-based delivery system to store and transfer cannabis oils to the heating element, producing vapor at the request of the user, may produce a stronger experience with less potential harm to the lungs and body. Yet, the methodology used to craft the hash oil has the ability to dilute the product and introduce unsuitable amounts of solvents or cutting agents in the final product.
Of course, many of the products used to dilute or otherwise homogenize the cannabis oil so it is in optimal form for producing vapor are approved by the FDA as safe in foods and other consumer products. The problem stems from there being little research on the effects of these products when turned to vapor, bypassing the body’s system of filtering things when eaten (aka – the digestive system).
Common cutting agents include glycerin, polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol, and coconut oil.
Additionally, being a liquid substance, there are conditions marijuana oil cartridges may leak, such as when on left in a hot vehicle or tipped at the wrong angle. Failure to ‘fire’, preventing the liquid oil in the marijuana cartridge from turning to vapor, is another common issue associated with marijuana cartridges. Luckily, most dispensaries allow leaking cartridges to be exchanged.