If your doctor has issued you a prescription for dried flower or vape carts, there are a number of devices that could also be included in your treatment plan. These range from vape cart batteries – necessary if you're using vape carts – to dry herb vaporisers, which help you use dried flower more safely and cost-effectively, and grinders to ensure you're getting the most out of your flower prescription.
While medical cannabis devices are generally user friendly, to get the most out of your medication it’s important to know the different functions and advantages of these options. Certain devices are more customisable, while others offer a streamlined user experience for people who value simplicity and discretion.
This post will take you through the ins and outs of flower grinders, dry herb vaporisers and vape cart batteries.
If you’ve been prescribed dry cannabis flower, a herb grinder can help you prepare it for inhalation. Herb grinders are usually cylindrical in design and consist of up to 4 chambers – the more chambers, the less non-therapeutic material gets into the final grind. Inside a herb grinder you’ll see rows of ‘teeth’. The grinder’s lid will also have teeth that mesh with the ones inside to shred your flower.
To use a herb grinder, remove the lid, break your flower into smaller pieces and place the pieces between the teeth. Put the lid back on and twist the lid in a clockwise direction and continue doing this until your flower is finely ground. Once you’re done, remove the lid and you’ll see the ground flower will have collected in the bottom chamber of the grinder.
The Benefits Of Using Flower Grinders
The benefit of a grinder is that it makes the process of preparing your flower for vaporisation easier. When you receive dried flower, there may still be small pieces of stem and leaf attached to the buds. A multi-chamber grinder ensures that these parts of the flower don't make it into the final ground product, producing a smoother draw and helping you better manage your dosage. Using a grinder also results in an evenly sized grind, so that your vaporiser is better able to unlock all the cannabinoids and terpenes in your medication.
Dry Herb Vaporisers
You use dry herb vaporisers with dry, ground cannabis flower. In Australia, there are three dry herb vapes approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA): the Mighty Medic, Mighty+ Medic and the Volcano Medic 2, all from Storz & Bickel.
The Mighty Medic and Mighty+ are portable vaporisers, meaning they're powered by a rechargeable battery and can be taken with you wherever you go, while the Volcano Medic is a desktop vaporiser and needs to be plugged into a 240V powerpoint.
However, all dry herb vaporisers work in essentially the same way: you fill a chamber with ground up dried cannabis flower and then heat it until the therapeutic cannabinoids start evaporating – producing the vapour that you then inhale.
The Benefits Of Using Dry Herb Vaporisers
The evidence is clear: inhaling cannabis vapour produced by a vaporiser is better, safer and more cost-effective than smoking dried flower. In a recent survey of more than 7000 medical cannabis patients, 88% said they felt the benefits of vaping over smoking.
Water-based vapour is considerably smoother on the lungs, reducing respiratory inflammation and damage and making it easier to hold for the medically recommended three seconds.
The adjustable temperature settings on these devices also lets you target specific cannabis compounds, which all have different boiling points. You can speak with your doctor about which terpenes and cannabinoids you might want to target with your vape to get the best results for your condition.
Medical cannabis vapes offers quick relief, as the effects of inhaled cannabis appear much faster than ingested oils or capsules. This fast onset of effects makes vaping an effective method of consumption for people who experience issues that need immediate attention, such as acute pain or anxiety attacks.
Finally, people using vaporisers use up to 40% less flower as there's less loss through "sidestream" smoke and patients don't need to use as much to feel the medical benefit.
How Do I Use A Mighty Medic?
The first step with a dry herb vape such as the Mighty Medic is weighing out your prescribed amount of cannabis flower. You’ll then add your measured dose to one or more dosing capsules, which are small containers that hold the dry flower and are then inserted into the top of the vaporiser.
You can make this process easier by using a filling aid, which funnels the ground flower into the capsules without making a mess. There are also plungers for dosing capsules that can help pack down your ground herb into the filling capsules. Once you’re ready, remove the vaporiser’s cooling unit by twisting it 90 degrees. Insert the filled dosing capsules into the magazine with the cap facing up and reattach the cooling unit.
To turn the device on, you hold the power button for at least half a second. The vaporiser will start to heat up, and will display both the current temperature and your desired temperature, which you can change with the plus and minus buttons.
How Do I Use A Volcano Medic?
The Volcano Medic is a desktop vaporiser that also uses dry cannabis flower. You fill the Volcano Medic by placing your ground flower into a filling chamber which you then attach to the top of the device. There are two inhalation methods with the Volcano Medic: you can either use a specialised balloon that you fill with vapour from the device, or you can draw directly from the Volcano Medic 2 with a tube.
Both inhalation methods allow the vapour to cool down before it enters your system, making the Volcano a great option if you prefer a smoother vaping experience. Desktop vaporisers aren’t portable, so a device such as the Mighty Medic will suit you better if you need your medication with you away from home.
Note that for both portable and desktop vaporisers it’s important to clean your vape regularly. Dirty devices don’t vaporise well and can lead to uneven dosage.
There are cleaning kits that can help you do this, or else simply remove the mouthpiece and give it a quick wash in water and then brush out any leftover flower from the chamber.
Instead of dry flower, vape cartridges or ‘carts,’ come prefilled with a liquid cannabis concentrate. You use vape carts with a vape battery, which are portable and easy-to-use devices that heat the concentrate to a temperature at which the plant’s active compounds
begin to vaporise.
Most vape carts are full-spectrum products, meaning they contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and a variety of terpenes. Manufactures typically use a single strain to produce vape cart concentrates so that the effects and flavours closely resemble the dry flower equivalent. Some vape carts contain a distillate that is dominant in a specific cannabinoid, but this is less common.
The Benefits Of Using Vape Carts
Vape carts are a more affordable and compact way of vaping compared to dry herb vapes. For people with fine motor difficulties, vape carts are likely a better option. Vape carts and batteries require less input from the user and screwing the vape cart into the battery is easier than having to grind and insert the dry flower.
Most vape carts and batteries will fit in your pocket, whereas dry herb vapes are larger and less discrete. Vape carts also require less cleaning, produce less odour and let you start vaping almost immediately, which is ideal if you need fast relief. Dry herb vapes typically require a short time to heat up to the desired temperature.
Vape carts and batteries are also more affordable than dry herb vapes, which often cost hundreds of dollars. By contrast a vape cart battery typically only costs around $50, although it may only last you 6-12 months, depending on how frequently you use it.
How Do I Use Vape Carts & Batteries?
There are a wide variety of vape batteries available, but most are straightforward and easy to use. Although it will vary depending on what you’re prescribed, most vape carts and batteries are operated in a similar fashion: you heat the oil in the vape cart through a button on the battery.
Your vape cart will likely come with a 510 screw thread, which is compatible with most cannabis vape batteries. Simply screw the cart and battery together and your device will be ready to use. A typical vape cart contains around 200 inhales, but this will vary depending on your prescribed dosage and whether you prefer to take smaller or longer draws.
It’s often good practice to press and hold the button for half a second before inhaling. This will allow the cart to heat the oil to the correct temperature before you draw from the vape. We also recommend releasing the button just before you finish inhaling as this will ensure that any remaining vapour doesn’t linger in the cart. But again, these are general guidelines – whichever vape battery and cart you’re prescribed will come with their own instructions.
Vape carts let you administer precise doses of your medical cannabis as you can measure dosage by length of inhalation. For example, a 3 second inhalation might be equal to 5mg, but this will vary depending on the strength of your prescribed medication.
Keep in mind that vape batteries don’t have the longest shelf life – most will need to be replaced after 6-12 months of regular charging. However their low cost means they’re still likely to be more affordable than dry herb vaporisers over time.
Note that you should never use a cannabis vape cart with an e-cigarette battery as they work on a different voltage and generate too much heat. If you do, you’ll burn the cannabis and may damage your battery.
What Medical Cannabis Device Is Right For Me?
The medical cannabis products and devices you end up using will depend on your condition, discussions with your doctor and personal preferences. Certain medical cannabis devices are more portable and discreet, while others are less portable but offer more customisation options. Your budget is another factor – prices vary significantly between medical cannabis devices.
If you’re interested in medical cannabis, you can book an appointment with your healthcare provider or a medical cannabis clinic. If your condition hasn't responded well to conventional treatments you might be eligible for a medical cannabis prescription. Doctors from medical cannabis clinics will know all there is to know about each device, and will help you choose one that has the best chance of providing you with relief.