As a Budtender, I Have One Device I Always Recommend
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As a budtender, I often get this question, "What is the healthiest way for me to consume cannabis flower?"
My go-to answer? Vaporization.
Why vapor is safer
Vaporizing cannabis is much like smoking, but a combustion reaction does not occur. Instead, the plant material, or concentrate, is heated at a lower temperature, allowing for the decarboxylation and consumption of beneficial compounds, such as cannabinoids and terpenes, without the harmful byproducts of smoking.
Vaporizing cannabis flower is generally regarded as healthier than smoking due to the decreased risk of lung injury and the greater range of compounds present in the vapor. When smoking, a combustion reaction produces harmful byproducts that can reduce pulmonary health and increase the risk of lung infection. Smoking cannabis also denatures some of the more volatile compounds, like terpenes, and causes many other beneficial compounds to be lost.
To put that into perspective, when lighting up a joint, about 30 percent of THC is immediately gone. Therefore, consumers have been choosing to vaporize not only for the decreased risk of lung injury but also for the enhanced taste and experience. When smoking, a combustion reaction produces harmful byproducts that can cause a decrease in pulmonary health and an increased risk of lung infection. Smoking cannabis also denatures some of the more volatile compounds, like terpenes, and causes many other beneficial compounds to be lost. To put that into perspective, when lighting up a joint, about 30 percent of THC is immediately gone. Therefore, consumers have been choosing to vaporize not only for the decreased risk of lung injury but also for the enhanced taste and experience.
Vaporization gets a bad rap
Last year, the media questioned the safety of cannabis vaporizing after people across the country experienced significant injury and in some cases fatality due to cannabis vaporization pens. According to the CDC, cases of e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) peaked in September 2019, with a total number of cases reaching 2,807 as of February 2020.
People became very sick from a consumption method that had been marketed to them as healthier than smoking. And while the cases of lung injury were associated with consumption of vape pens, this public health crisis raised questions on the safety and efficacy of all vaporization devices:
Are they safe? Are they healthy? Are they better than smoking? Will they cause the same pulmonary issues as vape oil?
To date, vaporizing cannabis flower has not been identified as a cause for lung injury. Instead, additives such as vitamin E acetate and other harmful contaminants to the cannabis extract are mostly to blame for EVALI. But other factors can contribute to poor lung health, including contaminants in the device hardware that leach into the cannabis vapor during consumption.
Due to the wide range of potential causes for EVALI, the quality of cannabis and consumption devices is crucial. And while dry flower vaporizers are exempt from responsibility regarding EVALI, they are not exempt from the investigative approach all consumers should take when it comes to quality, health, and safety of consumption devices.
A good solution
When it comes to quality cannabis vaporizers, only one name stands out for me. PAX.
There are many cannabis vaporizers on the market, however, due to their high cost, it is important to purchase a quality vaporizer that's built to lasts=. During my time as a budtender and beyond, I've tried a wide range of vaporizers from handheld to plug-in, economical to luxury. To be frank, I often encountered problems with the device hardware, such as faulty batteries, heating elements that didn't get hot enough, and heating elements that got way too hot. PAX stood out in terms of quality. And their 10-year warranty made me feel comfortable spending a higher dollar amount.
In my experience, PAX works the best compared to other vaporizers on the market. In the last few years, I’ve used my PAX 2 often, savoring the rich terpene-centric taste I could experience from just one inhale. I still have and use my PAX 2, but with the launch of the new PAX 3 color collection (the new palette includes Onyx, Sand, Sage and Burgundy), I had to get my hands on an updated model.
The PAX 3 allows users to vaporize not only dry flower but also concentrates (a feature that sets it apart from earlier models). The new device also keeps key features that I’ve come to love and associate with PAX, such as temperature customization, sleek design, and excellent service.
The four temperature settings allow for customization of experience and measured dosing that often evades cannabis consumers. By selecting a lower heat setting, consumers can choose to have a terpene-forward experience causing the nuanced flavors and therapeutic benefits to come through without much cannabinoid presence. Alternatively, consumers desiring more THC and/or CBD, can increase the temperature accordingly. Vaporizing cannabis flower in this way allows consumers to reap the benefits of whole plant medicine while also being able to customize their experience. The agency in consumer experience and compound selectivity provided by the PAX is something people can’t find with other consumption methods.
Beyond the optimization of consumer experience, my favorite thing about PAX is their commitment to quality and safety standards. According to the PAX 3 color collection press release, “The Era Pro was the first cannabis-only vaporizer on the market to receive UL-certification, a voluntary global certification, for electrical, heating and battery system safety. PAX 3 uses a UL-certified battery and FDA food-grade materials for mouth-touching parts, and has undergone extensive testing in the areas of temperature stress, thermal cycling, durability, battery cycling, environmental exposure, continuous operation and electromagnetic/radio frequency compatibility.”
In an era where the investigation of quality and safety is of utmost importance, PAX sets the standard. Every time I vaporize with my PAX I feel confident that I am consuming in a way that allows me to reap the therapeutic benefits of cannabis while not compromising my pulmonary health. The safety assurance combined with the ability to customize my cannabis experience makes PAX my go to method for healthy cannabis vaporization.
Whether you’re an enthusiastic veteran cannabis consumer or a curious novice, I recommend exploring the world of vaporization. Make sure to do your research on not only the quality of the cannabis itself, but also on the vaporization device. And if you’re looking for my opinion, when it comes to quality, safety, and user experience - the PAX is consistently the best in its class.