The 15 Best CBD Vape Pens
With multiple flavors, dosages, and types of pens to choose from, there’s something on this list for you.
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CBD vapes are overtaking the shelves everywhere from high-end cannabis stores to gas stations. You may even see them alongside nicotine vapes, which may make them seem like a tempting alternative to smoking tobacco. Harvard Medical School cannabis specialist Jordan Tishler cautions that there is no evidence supporting using CBD vapes to wean yourself off nicotine ones, but he does say that they are healthier in comparison. “Vaporizing CBD would be better than vaporizing nicotine because it’s non-habit forming and doesn’t affect blood pressure and heart rate like nicotine does,” he tells Allure.
CBD is a cannabinoid, or chemical compound, within the cannabis plant. THC is another cannabinoid; at least 104 have been identified and we are just beginning to learn about their powers. CBD is touted for relieving pain, anxiety, and inflammation, just to name a few of its properties. THC is still banned in most states, so companies selling CBD in non-legal states typically use CBD derived from hemp. Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis plants, but hemp is historically an industrial plant — used to make textiles, biodegradable plastics, and more — and lacks the psychoactive effects of marijuana.
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Because CBD regulation by the FDA is complicated, there may be unhealthy additives in some products on the market. “Many [CBD products] inadvertently contain heavy metals and pesticides which are bad for you, and some of them contain nasty chemicals,” Tishler says. While the government is still figuring out how to handle cannabis, do your research to make sure you buy a safe product. In legal states, you can buy vapes that contain both THC and CBD, often in ratios that offer much higher CBD with just a little bit of the psychoactive stuff. Some people find a little THC helps the CBD work better, although doctors caution that THC can work even in small amounts. “It’s probably the tiny bit of THC that’s making you feel good,” says Tishler.
THC can be extremely beneficial, but if you don’t want that psychoactivity, opt for a vape containing CBD alone. Some people prefer CBD isolates — which do not contain any of the plant’s other medicinal properties — while other cannabis enthusiasts say “the more the merrier” regarding the chemical makeup of a product. A full spectrum oil contains all the terpenes, essential oils, and other cannabinoids found in cannabis to work together. A broad spectrum means there are some, but not all, of the compounds. So which CBD vape is right for you? We rounded up 15 of our favorites.
Is Vaping Marijuana a Safer Alternative to Smoking?
Robyn Correll, MPH holds a master of public health degree and has over a decade of experience working in the prevention of infectious diseases.
Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
Chris Vincent, MD, is a licensed physician, surgeon, and board-certified doctor of family medicine.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend refraining from all vaping or e-cigarette products that contain THC.
When researchers asked 364 adults how they prefer to consume their medical cannabis, 53% reported that a vaporizer is their mode of choice. Among them, 80% believed vaping was a healthier alternative to other methods like a pipe or a bowl, and 34.4% felt vaporizers provided the best symptom relief.
The use of vaporizers for cannabis is on the rise, especially among youth. Still, concerns remain about whether or not these products are safe. In 2019, the CDC and the FDA explicitly warned against the use of e-cigarette or vaporizer products that contain THC, citing evidence that these products could contain harmful ingredients and increase your chances of lung damage.
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Given the sheer volume of cannabis products available, selecting the right one for you can be overwhelming. Before you choose a vaporizer, make sure you weigh the pros and cons.
How to Vape Cannabis
Unlike traditional cigarettes that burn leaves to make smoke, vaporizers use batteries and small metal coils to heat a substance until it evaporates and is then inhaled. For this reason, they’re often referred to as vapes, vape pens, and vaporizers. But not all devices vaporize the same way. There are three formats of cannabis that you will most likely encounter when looking at vaporizers: herb, oil, and wax.
These vaporizers have a chamber where dried cannabis flower is added. As the device is heated, the active therapeutic compounds in the cannabis are delivered in a concentrated vapor.
The cannabis is heated to just the right temperature so that it does not burn, which minimizes any tar or carcinogens that you may inhale when using a pipe or other combusted form. Many herb vaporizers also have temperature settings that you can change to control the amount of flavor and vapor you are inhaling.
Instead of adding dry herb to the vaporizer, an oil concentrate that is extracted from the cannabis plant is added to the oil pen. During the oil extraction process, the cannabis oil is often cut with other carrier oils, such as hemp oil. As a result, vaporized oil is typically less potent than wax but more potent than vaporized herb.
Oil pens are a popular choice among first-time users, as they are clean and easy to use. You can either choose a single-use oil pen that is disposed of once the oil runs out, or you can purchase a reusable vaporizer with oil cartridge attachments that come in a variety of different flavors and cannabis strains. A single oil cartridge can last several weeks.
Wax is a semi-solid substance extracted from the cannabis plant that has high concentrations of active compounds. Because it is not cut with other carrier oils, it tends to be much more potent than herb or oil. Wax vaporizers have three main components: the mouthpiece, the battery, and the atomizer.
The wax itself is purchased separately and added to the atomizer, where it is heated with a coil and vaporized. Wax can be somewhat more expensive and must be reloaded into the atomizer often, but due to its potency, some people find that vaporizing wax is the most efficient way to achieve the desired therapeutic effects.
Benefits of Vaping
Medical cannabis can be consumed in a plethora of ways, depending on your preference. You can consume it in baked goods or drinks, with a water pipe or rolling papers, in pill form or as a nasal spray, and of course, with a vaporizer.
Some of the perceived benefits of using a vaporizer include:
- Less smell: Cannabis has a strong and earthy smell that some people find bothersome. Vaporizers aren’t totally odorless, but they do minimize the smell because the cannabis isn’t burned.
- Easy to use: Vaporizers can be less messy and require fewer steps to use. In general, all you need to do is keep the vaporizer charged and loaded with oil, wax, or herb.
- Wastes less cannabis: Especially when compared to pipes and joints, vaporizers require less cannabis to achieve the desired effects. Doses are more potent, so you do not need to inhale as much.
- More affordable: The upfront cost of purchasing a vaporizer can be more expensive, but cannabis concentrates last much longer than herb that is combusted.
- No secondhand smoke: Vaporizing THC products does reduce the amount of carcinogens that others in the vicinity are exposed to. However, THC can still be detected in secondhand vapor.
- Consistent doses: THC concentrations are often more consistent from one inhale of a vaporizer to the next, and the effects are almost instant. Conversely, it can take up to three hours after eating an edible to feel any effects at all.
- Cleaner hit: Vaporizers may offer a purer and more potent hit than combusted cannabis, and the vapor may contain fewer toxins. Granted, this is only the case if the THC product is not contaminated with anything harmful.
- Accessible in more places: Vaporizers can often be used in parks and public spaces, outside of work, in the home, or other places where cigarette or cannabis smoke is not tolerated.
Does Vaping Offer Health Benefits Over Smoking?
Smoking anything—be it tobacco or marijuana leaves—is inarguably dangerous to your health. When you smoke, you inhale very hot pieces of debris that irritate the sensitive tissue in your lungs. Burning leaves can also cause chemical reactions that lead you to inhale potentially toxic compounds, some of which are linked to cancer.
Vaporizers don’t burn anything. Instead, they heat up THC-containing substances until they’re hot enough to create an aerosol—but not so hot that they combust. Compared to the hot, harsh smoke produced by burning leaves, the aerosol made by vaporizers can feel much smoother on the lungs.
Warnings About Vaping
Vaping weed might seem like a less harmful alternative to smoking, but it’s not entirely harmless. In addition to the health risks associated with THC, vaping itself can be potentially damaging to a person’s health.
In early 2019, people started presenting to the hospital with a severe respiratory illness that led to lung injuries. So far, the illness has been linked to the use of THC-infused vaping products in 80% of cases. According to the CDC, 2,807 cases were reported as of February 2020, and of those, 68 people died. The illness has now come to be known as EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury).
Investigators believe EVALI could be linked to vitamin E acetate additives that are used in some counterfeit THC products. They have also detected pesticides, opioids, poisons, heavy metals, and a fungicide that turns into hydrogen cyanide when combusted. The exact cause of EVALI is still under investigation.
The CDC recommends that people avoid using vaping products that contain THC, especially those that have been modified or purchased off the street. Vaping products should only be used as intended by the manufacturer.
When you vape weed, the therapeutic compounds in THC aren’t the only things you are inhaling. Vape fluids use a wide range of ingredients to suspend THC or CBD, create a vapor-like aerosol, or add flavor—all of which can irritate the delicate tissues and air sacs in the lungs.
Part of the issue with vaping cartridges is that they haven’t been as tightly regulated as other products. Ingredient lists don’t always include what they should, and people sometimes don’t know what’s inside the vaping fluids. Because there’s so much variation among vaping products, it’s difficult to say exactly what is in any one pod or device.
Some of the ingredients found in vaping products include:
- Heavy metals: The tiny coils that heat the vaporizer are made with a wide variety of metals that can weaken and break down over time. Small amounts of heavy metals or other debris can get into the aerosol you inhale.
- Carcinogenic compounds: Some of the chemicals used to suspend THC or make a “vapor” can also release potentially dangerous, cancer-causing compounds when they’re heated up.
- Ultrafine particulates: There may be less debris found in vaporizers than there are in pipes or cigarettes, but studies show that vaping fluids can still contain tiny particulates that, when inhaled, get deep into the lungs and cause irritation.
- Flavorants: Added flavors used in many e-cigarettes and THC-infused vaping products can contain such fluids as diacetyl, which has been linked to serious lung issues when inhaled.
As of Feb. 1, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the manufacture and sale of flavored vaping products (excluding menthol and tobacco).
For its part, the FDA has started to rein in vaping companies by sending warning letters to manufacturers who market their products using false or misleading claims about their contents. Even so, vape pen users can still purchase bootleg versions of products online or even make their own at home—neither of which are guaranteed to be tested for safety.
Signs of Lung Injury
EVALI is a type of chemical-induced injury that manifests like an illness of the lungs and respiratory tract. Its symptoms seem to begin gradually and can be confused for other respiratory conditions, such as pneumonia.
The symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Gastrointestinal issues like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Weight Loss
- Abdominal pain
Keep in mind that the use of e-cigarettes and vaping in general puts you at a greater risk of lung disease, heart disease, and cancer. And though you are not smoking nicotine, that doesn’t mean you aren’t ingesting other harmful toxins.
Are Dispensary Weed Carts Safe?
Vaporizer products purchased from a dispensary may be safer than black market vape products. In terms of the EVALI outbreak, there were:
- 1.7 cases per million people in states where recreational marijuana is legal
- 8.8 cases per million people in states where only medical marijuana is legal
- 8.1 cases per million people in states where marijuana consumption is prohibited
You can see there were almost as many cases in medical marijuana states as there were in prohibition states. This would indicate that recreational users who do not have access to a dispensary are more at risk of developing EVALI.
Cannabis is legal for medical use in 35 states, but consumers should still be proactive in ensuring the products they choose are legal and fully tested. For products that are, dispensaries should be able to provide a full report of the product’s lab results.
You should also beware of dispensaries that try to circumvent regulations. For example, dispensaries that don’t charge a sales tax may be evading other regulations as well, which may increase your risk of illness or injury.
Are Dry Herb Vaporizers Safe?
Some vaporizers may also be better for your health than others. Compounds in cannabis oils and waxes can be adulterated during the manufacturing process to enhance the flavors or consistency of a product. When it comes to dried herb itself, what you see is generally what you get. Abnormalities in dried cannabis can typically be detected at the store—like mold, for example.
When visiting a dispensary to pick up dried cannabis for your vaporizer, ask to view a few different strains at the counter. Look for mold and smell for mildew; black and white spots or a coating of greyish-white fuzz are signs the cannabis could be rotting.
Vaporizers for Flower
You can select the best strain of cannabis in the dispensary, but it won’t matter much if your vaporizer doesn’t perform well or isn’t safe. By now, a few brands, in particular, are well known for the quality of their vaporizers, and some are answering the call for vaporizers that are safer, cleaner, and more versatile.
- Pax 3: If you sometimes alternate between flower and concentrates, these pocket-sized hybrid vapes could be your thing. Vapes by Pax come with access to a mobile phone app that lets you filter flavors, adjust the temperature, and more.
- Arizer Extreme Q: This desktop vaporizer is a healthy alternative to other more compact vapes. It includes an extra chamber that filters vapor so that only the active ingredients in cannabis are inhaled.
- Storz & Bickel Mighty: The Mighty is a handheld version of Storz & Bickel’s popular desktop vaporizers, but it’s arguably just as powerful. It features a cooling unit that helps deliver a smoother, more flavorful hit, whether you are using dried herbs or concentrates.
Vaporizers come in all different shapes and sizes, and one may be more fitting for your lifestyle than the other. If you are an active person looking for a vaporizer that you can take with you, an oil or wax pen like the Pax 3 can conveniently fit in your purse or pocket. On the other hand, if you would like a vaporizer that is more difficult to lose, desktop vaporizers like the Arizer Extreme Q are a sturdier and more powerful option.
Safer Ways To Consume Cannabis
Both smoking and vaporizing cannabis are associated with severe and potentially life-threatening conditions. Fortunately, there are safer ways to consume cannabis that don’t involve secondhand smoke and aren’t harmful to your lungs.
Edibles: Cannabis extract oils or butter can be used to cook or bake any number of sweet or savory foods. Since there’s no smoke, there is no risk to your lungs, but dosing can be tricky. It can take upwards of two hours before you notice an edible’s effects. Be patient, and don’t consume more while you’re waiting.
Tinctures: These alcohol-based cannabis extracts are often cut with hemp oil or CBD (cannabidiol) oil. When administered sublingually (under the tongue), a tincture’s effects can take effect within 20 minutes, and just a few drops under the tongue can be as potent as a full, THC-infused edible. A tincture’s dropper makes it easier to keep doses consistent.
Sublinguals: Mouth sprays, dissolvable tablets, and strips or films are all popular sublinguals that are fast-acting and safe to consume. Like tinctures, they don’t have a strong taste that sticks around in your mouth and they’re easy to conceal.
Suppositories: Rectal suppositories are effective treatments for IBS, hemorrhoids, constipation, and other digestive or urinary issues. Vaginal suppositories can also be used to treat menstrual cramps and endometriosis. You may consider suppositories if you would prefer to avoid the psychoactive effects of THC.
Any time you consume cannabis in an edible, sublingual, or suppository form, start with a low dose and be patient if you don’t feel the effects right away. For sublinguals and suppositories, wait at least 20 minutes before upping your dose. For edibles, wait at least three hours.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are dry herb vapes worth it?
Cannabis enthusiasts say dry herb vaping has a better flavor and milder smell than smoking. A good quality dry herb vape starts at about $200, but the expense could be worth it for people who smoke cannabis regularly.
How long does it take to feel the effects after vaping cannabis?
Vaping cannabis has similar effects as smoking and can typically be felt in a few minutes. If you are new to vaping, it is generally recommended to start low and go slow. If you aren’t feeling the desired effect after 15 minutes, you can take a little more.
Are CBD vape pens safe for the lungs?
The safety of CBD vaping products is still unclear. Vape pens and carts are largely unregulated (with the exception of those from a medical marijuana dispensary). As such, ingredients can vary and may include chemicals linked to EVALI. The CDC advises against vaping nicotine or THC, but it does not specifically say to avoid CBD vape pens.
Does vaping cannabis leave a smell?
It depends. Vape carts have a very faint smell that dissipates quickly, making them a discreet option for inhaling cannabis. Dry herb vapes have a stronger odor that can linger in a room for about 30 minutes, but is easier to mask than smoking. And unlike smoking, vaping does not typically cling to clothing and skin.
Do all weed cartridges fit all pens?
Most vape carts are a 510-threader that connects to a battery. Most vape pens either accommodate a 510-threader or come with an adapter. There are a few proprietary vape cartridges on the market, such as Pax Era Pods and Air Pro Oil Cartridges that only work in their brand’s vape.
What kind of a high do you get from dab pens?
A dab high tends to hit quicker and higher than smoking or vaping cannabis, however the high does not last as long. The specific effects of the dab will depend on the strain and variety. A sativa dab is typically more energizing, while an indica dab tends to be more sedating.
How much does a THC vape cartridge cost?
The cost of a vape cart ranges from about $25 to $65, depending on the state. In states with legal recreational marijuana, the prices tend to be lower than in states where only medical cannabis is legally available. Black market carts may cost less, however, they can contain ingredients linked to EVALI and are not recommended.
Which is healthier: smoking or vaping marijuana?
Dry herb vaping is generally understood to be the least harmful way to inhale cannabis. Vape cartridges, on the other hand, have been linked to the potentially deadly lung injury known as EVALI.
A Word From Verywell
According to a 2019 survey of 42,531 students from hundreds of schools across the U.S., 20.8% of 12th graders reported that they had vaped marijuana. These numbers are climbing each year, and the risks posed to youths should not be underestimated.
Vaping marijuana might expose you to fewer toxic ingredients than smoking it, but it’s far from harmless. A lot more research is needed to fully understand the health risks associated with vaping in general and vaping products that contain THC.
If you or someone you know has a marijuana or other substance use disorder, talk to your healthcare provider about evidence-based treatment options, or call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889. You can also get help by using SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator.