October “Weed to the Wise: Vaping”

Welcome to the October edition of the curated PLAYBOOK for emerging medical cannabis research for seniors! This month we are addressing the vaping crisis, a ‘hot’ topic that has been increasingly in the mainstream news. Because we focus on medical applications and older users, the situation for us is much simpler. This issue includes general information on the subject along with suggestions from Dr. Sulak on healthy medical vaping. IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW: THERE HAS NOT BEEN ONE REPORTED CASE OF LUNG DISEASE FROM LEGAL DISPENSARIES OR WITH MEDICAL VAPING. Also this month, Lizzie Post shares vaping etiquette, and fall poetry takes us from vapor back to sacred ground.


  1. The basics:  Vaporizing is a process that heats oils, marijuana flower, or e-juice (with nicotine for e-cigarettes) to a temperature of 300-400 degrees (F) to produce vapor that can be inhaled. This avoids combustion and carcinogens. You can ‘vape’ all kinds of concentrated marijuana forms like wax, shatter, live resin, and hash oil. These forms are all highly psychoactive and intended for recreational use by experienced users. [Medical use primarily involves taking microdoses of edibles, tinctures, inhaled marijuana, or CBD with little or no risk of getting ‘high.’]
  2. The current crisis is focused almost entirely on young people (median age 19) who are vaping e-juice with nicotine and added flavors or bootleg marijuana oils (e.g., Dank brand). It has been recently determined that some of these substances contain hydrogen cyanide as a ‘thickening agent.’ (See links below.) There has been no incidence of this problem with medical users, seniors, or products from legal dispensaries.
  3. General information for seniors:  The following information is sourced from Dr. Dustin Sulak. The primary up-sides of vaping are that it is convenient, there is no odor, and the impact is quick (i.e., ~5 min.). The downside is that the marijuana e-juice is typically made with low-quality, leftover plant parts that can contain mold or pesticides. During the production process, the oil loses terpenes and becomes thick so it is thinned with formaldehyde, glycols, or different oils. These substances can become toxic to your lungs when heated to temperatures greater than 400 degrees (F). Some hardware manufactured in China can also be problematic, introducing heavy metals into the vapor.
  4. What are the best medical vaping suggestions?  Inhaled cannabis is usually best for symptoms that have a rapid onset and/or to breakthrough other treatments (i.e., tinctures or oil). You can vape flower with a convection process to gain the whole plant benefit of strain differences (use hardware with temperature control, such as the Argo brand). Downside? It might take 90 sec. to warm up.
  5. Informational links:


Henry Ward Beecher

“October is nature’s funeral month. Nature glories in death more than in life. The month of departure is more beautiful than the month of coming – October than May. Every green thing loves to die in bright colors.”

Elizabeth Lawrence

“Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn.”

C. S. Lewis

“But I remember more dearly autumn afternoons in bottoms that lay intensely silent under old great trees”

William Cleary

“The words of your prayers do matter to you: they give shape to your thoughts; they warm and give color to your soul and spur you to a focused listening.  The most appropriate prayers are words and gestures of surrender, praise, gratitude, and awe.”

LIVING WELL: ETIQUETTE TIPS FOR VAPING, from Lizzie Post: “Higher Etiquette” 

While I don’t use vapes and have only been to one gathering where it was being passed around if you should find yourself in this situation as a novice, these suggestions might be helpful (from Emily Post’s granddaughter):

  1. While vaping allows for a more personalized use of marijuana, people still share. Always remind others that you are using a concentrate (if it is) that is more potent than flower. If using weed, the owner might re-pack it or you can bring your own flower to share.
  2. Either wipe the mouthpiece before handing it to someone else or use your own mouthpiece.
  3. Use a recyclable pen if possible; it turns out vape pens are very bad for the environment.
  4. If you hold the button too long and burn the cartridge (which ruins the vaping flavor and experience), offer to replace it.
  5. The owner should always explain the product being used, the type of heat, and any device settings (e.g., Press the button twice for a mid-temp range, etc.).

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