The days of rolling joints are coming to an end. In 2017, more and more people are choosing to consume marijuana electronically.
Just like so many things about life in the post-smartphone world, cannabis is being made more convenient and accessible through modern technology. Rather than buying cannabis, rolling a joint, and burning plant matter, more and more people are turning to vaping – a far easier, more modern way to consume cannabis. You simply purchase plant matter or a small cartridge of oil (depending on the vaping device), load it into an inexpensive pen, and you’re ready to go.
As laws allowing adult cannabis use continue to pass in states across the US, cannabis oils, in particular, have increased in popularity – and they’re sure to continue on that path. It’s easy to see why: They’re inexpensive, easy to use, and discreet. In California, the largest state economy in the US, companies like Bloom Farms and Dark Heart are pioneering leaders in the cannabis oil market. Their products look just like the easy-to-use, crowd-friendly vaporizers seen above.
But what in the world is cannabis oil? How is it made? Is it safe? Here’s what we know about cannabis oils, the future of mainstream cannabis use.
How do you “vape” cannabis?
There are two primary ways to vape cannabis: Vaping cannabis oil, or vaping cannabis itself.
Companies like Pax offer devices for vaping plant matter – you insert a small amount of crumbled cannabis into the device and it heats up just to the point of burning psychoactive components like THC. Those are popular, but far more popular are devices that vaporize cannabis oil – sold in disposable cartridges, easy to carry, and none of the hassle.
There are several different devices for vaporizing cannabis oil, but the most common is the vape pen you see above. It’s a simple, disposable device that can be used with simple, disposable cannabis oil cartridges. The pen component recharges via USB (or plugs into a wall with a USB adapter), and charges often last for at least one day.
Due to the universality of cannabis oil cartridges, they can be plugged in to most tobacco vaporizers – if you want to use your own rig for whatever reason, you likely can.
In the case of the standard vape pen, there is no concept of “on” or “off.” You simply pull from the mouthpiece of the pen and it lights up, slightly heating the oil and enabling you to inhale cannabis oil vapor.
What is cannabis oil?
Instead of thinking of cannabis oil as a single product, think of it like a product category. Here’s how Bloom Farms CEO Michael Ray described cannabis oil in a recent interview with Business Insider:
“Cannabis oil is the essential oil of the planet. Much like lavender oil, or other essential oils, cannabis oil is extracted from the plant materials and that’s about it. It’s the essential oil of the cannabis plant.”
Ray is speaking to the direct product of extraction – as you might’ve guessed, cannabis oil is derived from the same plant matter that’s normally found inside of joints. Since there are different methods for extracting cannabis oil from cannabis plants, there are also many different results of different types of extraction.
What you get from any given provider of cannabis oil can differ greatly. Some cannabis oil makers blend their product with the oils of other plants (like peppermint or lavender); some makers only offer ultra-high potency oil, and some make a variety of options.
In the case of Bloom Farms, a popular brand in California, extraction means more than just distilling the main psychoactive ingredient (THC). Here’s Ray:
“There are thousands of elements. Everything that gives it any sort of flavor and smell (those are ‘terpenes’); in cannabis you have several cannabinoids (whether it be CBD, THC, THC-A, THC-B). It can turn into a very complex conversation. But what it is: It’s 100% cannabis oil, and in it is everything that makes up cannabis.”