Why I Avoid Cannabis Vape Pens

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I was first introduced to cannabis vape pens from another MMJ patient who was going on about how much they liked it for medicating. I tried it with excited anticipation and instantly felt let down by the experience. Although the effects were potent enough, it left me with a nasty taste of chemicals that really turned me off. I since have tried others from people who compellingly made arguments as to why their pen was good or their oil was superior  but something about the vape pen experience doesn’t feel right for me.

Plus, I have ongoing questions about these little medicating devices. The vape pen is a fairly new technology and the effects of long term use is not known. Are they really safe to be inhaling from regularly?

I decided to find out what experiences other patients are having when they use them. I talked to about 30 people who regularly use cannabis vape pens and here is what I found…

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People who use them love how discreet, convenient, and easy vape pens are for medicating on the go. They can be used pretty much anywhere. There were a few people who liked that the effects felt a little milder than dabbing their concentrates and that they were able to maintain an even level of homeostasis through their day.

The majority of people I talked to also had complaints about their vape pens. I repeatedly heard that they hated the taste, how frequently the pens break (even the spendy ones), oil leakages, how frequently they require cleaning, and how disappointingly mild the vape pen experience is for them. Two people told me that their pens gave them a cough and I also met a person who had a vape pen battery blow up in his hands causing severe burns to his palm and fingers.

I really wanted to find out what materials most people’s pens were made out of but the majority didn’t really know what their pens were constructed of. A lot of the pens that I have seen are made with plastic and/or have a lot of plastic parts although some are made with glass, ceramic and metal.

Let me be real here for a second. I don’t know of what parallel time warped universe I would need to live in for it to be okay to heat up anything plastic and breathe it into my lungs in an effort to ingest cannabis. Everything about that makes my body and brain cringe. I’ve heard repeated stories of people’s pens off-gassing the first few times a new pen is used but nobody has been able to tell me what chemicals they may have inhaled during those first few hits or any other chemicals they may be inhaling from the device itself with continued use. I don’t dig that.

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Then there is this little question I have about polyethylene glycol (PEG), the chemical that can be found in pre-filled oil cartridges to give the product a more fluid consistency.  Is this chemical safe to heat and breathe? While PEG is generally accepted as safe to consume, little seems to be known about the long term effects of consuming it through inhalation. Most people I talked to had little clue what PEG was although one person informed me it was also an ingredient found in antifreeze. The internet was not an overly helpful source. I found sites saying it was safe, maybe even “good for you” and I found sites saying it should never be inhaled. What is one supposed to believe?

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Since cannabis medicating is part of my long term health management plan I would like to know that the ways I am using it will not cause harm to my body.

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And, if I am inhaling unknown toxic chemicals with my medicine, is it really medicine anymore? Until more about the safety of vape pens is known, I will skip that electronic puff puff and just pass.


27 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Renee h on March 7, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    Thanks for writing about the e-pens. I had been thinking about buying one but had not thought about the points you brought up. Thanks for your blog. I love it and will be following from now on.


  2. Posted by JoyLia on March 16, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Yuck. I’d rather juice.


  3. Posted by Susan on April 1, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Hi, thanks for the good info. I try to avoid PEG’s in skin and body care products, I had heard they were really bad. Same with propylene glycol which is a Hazmat chemical, alone you have to wear a hazmat suit! It is in lots of cosmetics, and body products. My husband has been told to stop all smoking what so ever due to cancer, his daughter wanted him to look at the pen, he said he can’t smoke anything, even if cold(?), and clean, it is still going down his airways.
    please keep us posted.


    • Thanks for your comments. I would recommend vaporizing over smoking for a similar effect without taking carcinogens and heat into the lungs. My best to you and your family during such a challenging time.


  4. Posted by Joseph on April 15, 2014 at 8:24 am

    I have been using vape pens myself for a few months, and found a product (Eureka Cartridges with Medicali Vape Pen) that is everything I’m looking for in terms of affect. However, while it doesn’t make me cough or give me any of the problems that smoking used to give me (i.e. lung/throat related problems) I very often feel like I’m inhaling gasoline fumes or something, the chemical taste lingering in my mouth. I wish the companies that made these products were a little more informative.

    Have you done any more research? What method are you using to inhale now?


    • Hi Joseph, I have only tried a few more pens and I know I still don’t like them. My biggest complaint is the same as yours- they taste gross and you don’t really know what you are inhaling. I have a little portable flower vaporizer (PAX by Ploom) that works for me. It’s not as discreet smell wise, but all I taste from it is terpenes and I can control the quality of flowers that go into it. If I ever find a pen that I like, you’ll here about it. Thanks for reading!



    • Posted by Mari Arnold on July 14, 2015 at 5:17 pm

      Try reading Mayo Clinic research. Just recently a woman died because the oils in Vape form are uncontrolled and you have NO idea what they contain.


  5. Posted by deusopus on April 29, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    I just got done reading the Wikipedia on PEG and I wonder if you have. Seems pretty benign to me.


  6. Posted by Flip on June 14, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Thanks for this post man. Im glad im not the only person who thinks this. I recently got a vape pen from my travels to Colorado. Im towards thw end of my cartridge and cant help but feel like im vaping plastic. I have a new cartridge and it actually tastes like hash oil but the used tastes so much like plastic I feel like I might be smoking myself to death… but ya after this last cartridge I will be done until they I can come up on something a little more high quality.


  7. How awesomely uninformative this is…


  8. Pot vaporizers have become increasingly popular across the world because
    they harness an ample number of power and provide a purer
    smoking knowledge.


  9. Posted by Eric on July 10, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    Here I Oregon I buy a Glycol free pen. I became aware with it when I was noticing the differences in the ones with it making me caugh, vs not. I also avoid the butane extract!!


  10. Posted by Bobby Heads on July 21, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    Do you need a script from a doctor for the vape Cannibis ?


  11. Posted by Dan on July 29, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    Thank you Twicebaked, I was looking into pens. I am seeing Eureka vape cartridges are now CO2 extracted should this elevieate any of my concerns?


  12. As someone who’s been using them for years and have tried several by now I can tell you that you get what you pay for as well as not all of them taste bad and make you cough.There are flavored ones by Various brands like I heavy hitters and tetra labs, those are basically the ones I would recommend as they all have the most thc and the best tastes..anything under 40 bucks though isn’t going to taste that great or give you the kind of high you really want..It literally is a situation where you will never know until you try the right one and it’s hard to make decisive spending decisions with these especially if you have never tried them..If it wasn’t for me being determined to find one that worked perfectly I would have never found these..The heavy hitter cartridge I have right now is blueberry flavored and gets the job done like so other..


  13. […] Vaping: This solves most problems in the moment. Anxiety, pain, and nausea are all made better with a few inhales of vaped flower or concentrate. […]


  14. Posted by Tim Hunt on January 7, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    I enjoyed your post. I have copd and decided to try a disposable vape pen made by EvoLab. After a few hits I took a look at the ingredients and was shocked to see 32 chemical additives.I can’t believe this a healthy option. I’m hoping for some kind of oversight into the manufacture of these devices.


    • Hi Tim! Thanks for sharing. The manufacturing of vape pens is an interesting one. These cannabis companies putting their amazing high quality concentrates in low quality cartridges and pens is something I hope they figure out soon. And we can speak with our dollars by not spending money on crap products hoping they will be good.


  15. Posted by Chris on January 28, 2016 at 8:13 am

    I complely agree and find it a breath of fresh air hearing someone else say it. Dabs with a bong for me:)


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