Many medical marijuana patients are making the healthy decision to switch from smoking to vaporization. Whether prompted by persistent advice from their physician or a nagging morning cough, using a vaporizer regularly can reduce many of the negative effects that result from smoking.

However, moving away from the familiarity of smoking to a different way of medicating can be difficult, especially if a patient is new to cannabis or unaware of how many options are out there other than pipes and papers. In fact most patients who use vaporizers agree that once the art is mastered it quickly becomes the method of choice. Fortunately technology has not only made the techniques easier but has also produced more affordable and effective equipment.

Today’s medical cannabis patients can ensure they are treating their condition while using their medicine in one of the healthiest way possible.

The majority of vaporizers are fairly simple devices, containing a small chamber heated by a butane flame or electric heating element. Many vaporizers have other conventional uses besides cannabis ingestion, such as aromatherapy or inhalation of other medicinal herbs. Hot air is blown through the chamber by a small fan or pulled using inhalation. The result is a mist with all the potency of a bong hit but containing less of the toxins released from burning plant material. Because the temperature of the air is approximately half of that coming from a flame, the full and distinct flavor of different strains of cannabis can be fully appreciated, neither missing the many nuances of flavor nor the overwhelming desire to hack out a lung! Some vaporizers allow direct inhalation from the chamber while others collect the mist in a bag for gradual consumption.

Choosing a vaporizer is similar to choosing an appliance or computer; you must figure out what percentage of the time you will use it, how long you expect it to last, and how much can you afford to spend.

You will most likely have to rely on on personal experience, advice from other patients, or internet recommendations. There are multiple options and various price ranges, and deciding which one is “the best” is not easy. The most important thing to keep in mind is choosing one that will make medicating as easy and effective as possible and fit into your personal routine. A cheaply made portable vaporizer is extremely convenient in certain situations but will not likely last long under heavy use. On the other hand, there are fancy, high tech options that are expensive, difficult to operate, and have fragile parts. The best vaporizers have simple controls, are made from durable heat safe materials, and will have some type of warranty. The internet is useful in determining what other medical marijuana patients are using effectively, and there are videos on You Tube showing different vaporizers in operation. Some dispensaries featuring on site consumption have various brands of vaporizers set up for their patients to use.  If you are located in the Bay Area, The Patient I.D. Center in Oakland has a wealth of information and vaporizers for sale. When deciding what to buy, the determining factor should be choosing one that allows you to replace as much smoking as possible.

The first tasty vapor hit of quality medicine after consistent habitual smoking is a memorable experience, and can change your whole outlook on medicating with cannabis. Once you have decided which device you want, you will need to learn how to properly use your new purchase. For obvious reasons, none of the vaporizers are going to come with explicit instructions on how to use their product to get the most out of your Purple Kush. Unfortunately many new users are turned off to vaporization simply from a lack of knowledge on how to operate one properly and how to get satisfying clouds of vapor. Most everything you need should come with your new vaporizer, but you will probably want to purchase a decent grinder separately, as it is needed every session but rarely included in the box.

The first step is determining what temperature to operate at, which can be tricky, because it depends on the vaporizer’s capabilities and your personal preference of vapor density. Several scientific studies have shown that the THC in marijuana vaporizes at approx 365 degrees F(185 C), while other toxic compounds such as benzene and naphthalene have a higher vaporization temp and thus are left behind in the plant material. A general rule of thumb is to start at a low temperature and increase it in intervals until the vapor reaches a misty consistency still fairly comfortable to fully inhale. If your vaporizer has a digital heat display, you will find it easier to dial in the perfect temperature, but with practice any quality vaporizer can be dialed in to its owner’s preference.

After a few pulls the material in the chamber can be reground and placed back in the chamber for another run. More plant material is exposed to the hot air after regrinding so another thick vapor cloud usually results. After several hits the vapor production will decline and the mist will no longer be tasty. The shaky material left in the chamber smells somewhat like slightly burnt popcorn and should be discarded unless you plan on using it later for something besides smoking. If the material is scorched or black then the temperature is way too hot and should be turned down. Vaporizing at too high of a temp completely defeats the purpose of attempting to preserve your lungs and respiratory health.

Once you get the hang of things you may never want to smoke again, as the full flavor of your medicine can be enjoyed without the harshness of smoke or taste of ash.

There is great satisfaction in trying something new, and transitioning to vaporizer use is possible for any medical marijuana patient who doesn’t enjoy smoking. Like everything worth doing it takes a little practice, and any money spent can be viewed as a valuable investment in your health.

Once you have developed a technique, you can start exploring the different tastes and vapor consistencies that various strains produce, and as you gain experience explore methods of vaporizing hashes, oils and other concentrates. Like any valuable tool, keeping your vaporizer clean and resin free will help it last long and make each vapor hit as tasty as the first.

We care about all of our patients’ health, and we hope everyone seriously considers substituting vaporization in place of some, if not all, of their smoking. If you have further questions or would like advice, we encourage you to check out reviews on GotVape, this site features a wide variety of vaporizers and tons of patient reviews. A favorite of ours is the Vaped Nano with wick-less all ceramic bowl/skillet and titanium coil. This vaporizer is available for purchase at PCC. Please come by and ask to see it and let us answer any further questions you may have.