Research highlight

Drug discovery: Cannabis vaping using e-cigarettes

Scientific Reports

May 26, 2016

Using e-cigarettes for the vaping of cannabis, a method the authors refer to as “cannavaping”, may provide a new route of administration for therapeutic cannabinoids according to an initial study published in Scientific Reports this week.

Therapeutic cannabis administration is increasingly used in western countries and the combustion and inhalation of cannabis cigarettes is generally considered an inappropriate method. Vaporization has been recommended as an alternative.

Vincent Varlet and colleagues evaluated the efficiency of cannabis vaping as an alternative to smoking marijuana for therapeutic uses. Cannabinoids from cannabis were extracted with butane gas to produce butane hashish oil (BHO) concentrate in an e-liquid, which could be atomized. Samples of the gases generated from three e-cigarettes were then collected and analysed. The authors found that cannavaping may result in the avoidance of inhaling significant amounts of toxic contaminants - such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and carbonyls - released during the combustion of regular cannabis cigarettes.

The authors also believe that illegal cannavaping of BHO presents a low risk of becoming popular among cannabis smokers. The poor solubility of BHO in commercial liquid refills would prevent the manufacture of refills with the high BHO concentrations preferred by most recreational cannabis users.

The authors note that as only one type of e-cigarette was assessed in this study, other devices, brands and e-liquids may produce different cannabinoids and levels of carbonyls and VOCs.

doi: 10.1038/srep25599

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