Vaping vagueness

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

Two questions about concentrate cartridges: Are the flavors that are commonly added to cartridges bad for you? And, will they ever be environmentally sound?

—Green Mountain Bot

via Twitter

Good questions! To answer the first one: Who knows? No one does any tests. Vaporizers are ridiculously popular, but it is still a relatively new technology. These days, most of the “vapor juice” in your vape isn’t made from the whole plant. Instead, companies take a little distilled THC, maybe some chemically extracted CBD, and add in some chemically produced terpenes for flavor. And while terpenes are found in all sorts of plants—citrus plants are full of limonene, mangoes have myrcene, pine trees have pinene—more than a few companies use artificial terpenes instead of plant based ones.

Who knows what effects these chemicals will have on the human body? According to the website for Floraplex Terpenes: “Adding too many terpenes to your product may create an overpowering experience that is unpleasant and potentially a health hazard.”

Not to mention that most vape pens are full of propylene glycol or propylene ethanol, two products that when heated turn into formaldehyde and other potentially carcinogenic substances. Yay “healthier alternatives” to smoking!

At the risk of sounding like a big ol’ hippie, I would say to look for vapes and vape cartridges that are wholly derived from the cannabis plant, not mixed together in a lab. Good luck.

On the second question, probably not. Disposable cartridges and pens are everywhere. There are a few recycling programs, but not enough to keep up with the enormous amount of trash that is generated from the gigantic vape market. Try to find a refillable vape pen or something similar to reduce your footprint.

What benefits has Prop. 64 given the general public in comparison and contrast to Prop. 215? Does the additional cost of regulation and taxes make Prop. 64 a better solution than what we had before?


via Twittter

Sigh. Let’s address the biggest benefit first: No one is being arrested for possession of small amounts of cannabis. Also, there’s a new law, Assembly Bill 1793, that will automatically expunge the criminal records of anyone convicted of a cannabis “crime” in California. This law is expected to clear the records of as many as 200,000 people by July 1.

That is awesome. Keeping folks out of jail and clearing their criminal records? That’s an amazing victory for cannabis activists and social justice advocates.

Now, to the other parts. The regulatory framework in California is not great. Licenses are way too expensive, and the Bureau of Cannabis Control is so far behind in its approval process that many people who paid big money for their temporary licenses may not have their permanent licenses by the July deadline. No bueno.

Also, high taxes, cities and counties suing the state over delivery services and a few other things, make me inclined to say that Prop. 64 has made things marginally better for the casual user, but horrific for all the small businesses that were thriving under Prop. 215.