What Are Vape Carts? Benefits, Effects, and More

Alternaleaf Team
Written by
Alternaleaf Team
Jan 13, 2023
Last updated:
May 2, 2024

If you’re new to medical cannabis, you may be surprised to hear that the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has not approved smoking as a delivery method for medical cannabis in Australia. Instead, doctors recommend vaporisation as the only safe way to consume cannabis flower.

While some patients may already be familiar with the Mighty Medic or even the Volcano desk-top vaporisers, vape carts designed for vape pens are a newer option now available in Australia. These are smaller and much more portable and help patients treat a broad spectrum of conditions and symptoms.

What are Vape Carts?

Vape carts, or vape cartridges, are pre-filled cartridges containing plant extract from cannabis. Some vape carts contain a concentrate with a full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes from specific strains (ex., Pineapple Express or Blueberry OG), while others may have a more particular formula with targeted levels of THC, CBD, or both.

Like other delivery methods, your doctor will prescribe a product that serves your specific needs. Certain conditions may warrant a CBD-dominant product, while others may require something with THC. Vape carts also come in a variety of strengths.

A typical vape cart contains upwards of 200 inhales, also called draws. How long it lasts will depend on the prescribed dose and the individual’s consumption rate.

What's the Best Way to Use Vape Carts?

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Vape pens simplify dosing, and are easier to manage than the Mighty Medic and Volcano Medic.

Vape carts work with a vape pen (often called a ‘‘weed pen’ in recreational markets). Vape pens are essentially batteries that power the atomiser in the cartridge, which heats the oil and activates the chemical compound.

The vape cart typically comes with a standard 510 thread which fits a regular screw-in battery (or pen). But it’s always best to check your battery and cartridge to ensure they are compatible.

Vaping is relatively simple. There are many different types of pens and cartridges, but generally, administering a precise dose happens at the press of a button. It’s advisable to wait half a second before beginning an inhale, then release the button just before you're done.

When the button is pressed, the vape pen heats the plant extract in the cart, delivering the vapour to inhale. With vaping, patients can administer medical cannabis at exact doses — for example, 5mg per 3-second inhale.

By taking the guesswork out of dosing, patients have far more control.

What Are the Effects of Vape Carts?

Vaping is fast-acting, and patients will likely feel the effects within a few minutes. This means medical cannabis vape carts offer relief from symptoms faster than other delivery methods like capsules or tinctures. For patients who need quick, controlled relief, vaporising is an effective route.

Unlike smoking, vaping allows patients to select a precise temperature suitable for the strain and desired effect. Controlling the temperature has a few critical benefits:

  1. Exposure to byproducts, like smoke, tar, and carcinogenic compounds like benzene, created from high-heat combustion (aka smoking), is greatly reduced, meaning little to no risk to the respiratory system.
  2. Cannabinoids and terpenes are lost when cannabis is burned. According to the TGA, up to 40 per cent of a dose of THC can be wasted by smoking. The low temperatures applied in a vape pen preserve the plant’s medicinal value.

Given the precise control, vaping can be a good option for patients who need to ‘microdose’ or those who are new to medical cannabis and want to take a ‘low and slow’ approach.

Accessing Vape Carts in Australia

Vaporising is one of the TGA’s approved methods of medical cannabis delivery and vape carts can be a prescribed to patients looking for fast-onset effects for relief of symptoms. Like all medical cannabis in Australia, vape carts are only available with a doctor's prescription. If you want to check if you're eligible, book a consultation with a doctor at a cannabis clinic or your local GP.

There are a number of risks associated with the use of medical cannabis and your doctor will explain these to you before issuing a prescription. Medical cannabis affects everyone differently and may not help with your chronic condition.

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