“I think I’m dying,” my roommate said with tears in her eyes. I’d heard her hacking up a lung all night and knew she had a bad cold. “You’re not dying,” I said. “It’s probably just allergies.” “No, I’ve got the vape thing… I’ve got the vape lung! Haven’t you heard of it! Everybody is sick and dying!” And she drove to the emergency room, where they told her that she did indeed have a seasonal cold, she wasn’t dying, she could keep vaping as much as her little lungs desired as soon as she was feeling better.
The vape paranoia is real, though… a seventh person just died from vaping-related “severe lung illness” (according to the CDC), and so far, 530 people have been hospitalized. I absolutely get the terror surrounding it, and it seems like such an easy thing to prevent… just stop vaping, right? But we love our vapes. We love the way they hit, we love the way they smell, we love that they’re flavored and branded and beautiful, and they have so many different features… not to mention that they’re discreet, and bring an ease to getting high that we’ve never experienced before.
Vaping is also notorious for packing a heavier punch than puffing on a joint or smoking from a bong. According to a study by scientists at the John Hopkins Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit, vaporizing cannabis flower provides a more intense buzz than smoking the same dose. During the study, subjects smoked and vaped different items containing different amounts of THC, but they had no idea how much they were smoking at any given time. This was done to prevent bias while later filling out drug impairment questionnaires, which must have been extremely fun after they had been smoking for hours on end. Participants also had their heart rates and blood pressure rates checked at different times throughout their Snoop-level chief sessions.
Results of the test show that inhaling a 25mg dose of THC will get most people pretty freaking high, regardless of the way it was consumed. In fact, several people in the study either ralphed or “tripped” after consuming this dose— guys, I get it, I’m a low dose person myself. For both smokers and vapers of this dosage, the majority of the subjects experienced your classic effects of being “stoned”, like bloodshot eyes, pounding heart rate, paranoia, and of course the munchies. These effects peaked within the first hour of smoking but can last for more than 8 hours, as we all know from being uncomfortably high at some point… it can last WAY too long.
So, if you want to get really blazed without running from the cops, it looks like vaping is the best bet. But how do you stay safe while getting high on the down low? First of all, make sure you’re buying from licensed dispensary or producer, and from a legit and licensed brand (my all-time favorites are Pax and Mozen). Consider a temperature-controlled model, as higher temperatures can lead to an increase in more chemical reactions, which can lead to an increase in how much formaldehyde is released when you vape… if you can control how hot your coil gets, you can reduce the number of possibly dangerous chemical reactions. Black market or dirty vaporizer cartridges can contain glycerin and propylene glycol, which has potentially harmful ingredients for your lungs and can turn into different chemicals upon being heated up. These toxic chemicals can damage cells and trigger inflammation in the lungs and blood vessels, which is where the dreaded vape lung comes from. Because of all the new pods and models available, it’s difficult to regulate and test them all, and the FDA is not able to actively regulate all of these devices… especially the black market options found on the streets.
One of my friends told me that he’s going back to smoking joints, both for safety and because “vaping feels too much like giving head to R2D2”… but I can’t tell you the best way for you to smoke the devil’s lettuce. All I can tell you is to be safe, be responsible, know your products, know your dosage, and don’t buy any sort of weed products from a long-haired dude in a white van behind the Piggly Wiggly, like we used to do when we were kids.