You may already be familiar with dry herb vapes such as the Mighty Medic and Volcano Medic. Vape carts operate in a similar fashion, except the medical cannabis arrives as a concentrate contained in a small cartridge and the patient uses a dedicated vape battery to inhale their medication.
Vaping is a great way to quickly deliver the therapeutic compounds in medical cannabis to your system. Although vape carts are mostly straightforward to use, you may have some questions about how they work and the advantages this format might offer over other medical cannabis consumption methods.
What Are Vape Carts?
Vape cartridges, or ‘carts,’ are pre-filled cartridges containing concentrate extracted from the cannabis plant. The carts are inserted into 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.
Vape carts typically contain the full spectrum of the cannabis plant, meaning tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and a variety of terpenes. The concentrate is usually produced from a single strain to try and mimic the effect and flavours of the dried flower equivalent. They can also contain a distillate that is dominant in a specific cannabinoid, but this is less common.
Most vape carts come with a 510 screw thread, which is compatible with most vape batteries. Simply screw the vape cart into the battery and it’ll 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 from your vaporiser.
What Are The Advantages Of Vape Carts Over Dry Herb Vapes?
Dry herb vaporisers, such as the Mighty Medic, are designed for use with dried cannabis flower. Dry herb vapes first require you to grind up your prescribed cannabis flower and then insert it into the vaporiser’s filling chamber.
Vape carts and batteries simplify this process, as your cart will come prefilled with the liquid cannabis concentrate you were prescribed. Vape batteries are also generally less complex to use than dry herb vapes, which can require the user to set the temperature and other settings, which, along with grinding the flower, may be difficult for some people to manage.
Vape batteries and carts have sleek, discreet designs and should fit in your pocket. They also require less cleaning and maintenance than dry herb vapes and produce less odour. Some dry herb vapes also require a short time to heat up to the desired temperature for vaping, whereas vape batteries will let you start vaping almost immediately – ideal for people who need fast relief.
Finally, vape batteries tend to be significantly more affordable than dry herb vaporisers, which can cost hundreds of dollars.
How Do I Use A Vape Cart?
There are many different vape batteries available, but most are straightforward and easy to use. Vape batteries usually have a button that, when pressed, heats the oil in the cart. Although it will vary depending on the product you're prescribed, 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 vaporiser 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.
With all medical cannabis products, including vape carts, it’s important to keep the ‘start low, go slow’ approach in mind. A doctor will prescribe you a specific dose, but when in doubt always start with a very low dose and slowly increase it until you reach the desired therapeutic effects.
How Do I Charge And Store My Vaporiser And Vape Cart?
Many vape batteries come with a USB port for charging, but make sure you use the charger that comes with your vape to avoid damaging your device. The exact charging time will vary, but vape batteries generally take around 1-3 hours to charge and should last through a day of moderate use.
It should be noted that vape batteries don’t have the longest shelf life – most will need to be replaced between 6 and 12 months of regular charging. However their low cost means they’re still likely to be more affordable than dry herb vaporisers over time.
You should store your vape cart upright in a cool, dark place to ensure the cannabinoids and terpenes don’t degrade. If you ever notice an unusual taste or odour, or that your cart is leaking, it might indicate that your product is faulty or damaged. In this case you should stop using the vape cart and seek a replacement product.
Is Vaping Safer Than Smoking?
Doctors in Australia don’t recommend smoking medical cannabis, but will prescribe vape carts if they think it’s appropriate. When someone smokes cannabis, the dried flower is burned, which creates harmful byproducts including tar and carcinogenic (cancer-causing) compounds such as benzene that the user will inhale.
A percentage of cannabinoids and terpenes are also lost when smoking cannabis. Smoking may waste up to 40% of a dose of THC, for example. Vape carts gently heat the cannabis extract to produce a breathable vapour that has far less harmful byproducts and preserves the medical compounds.
You may have heard of a condition called EVALI, which stands for ‘E-cigarette, or Vaping, Product Use-Associated Lung Injury.’ In 2019, there was an outbreak of EVALI in America, mainly among people who had used a THC-containing vape product in the last 3 months. Vitamin E acetate, a chemical added to some low-quality vape carts, was thought to be largely responsible for the EVALI outbreak. Vape carts that a doctor might prescribe in Australia undergo careful quality control and safety measures, and won’t contain harmful additives such as vitamin E acetate.
Why Would I Be Prescribed Vape Carts?
The main reason a doctor might prescribe a vape cart is that inhaling medical compounds can offer quick relief. When you inhale vapour from a vape cart, the cannabinoids will rapidly absorb into your lungs and then pass into your bloodstream. Your bloodstream then delivers the cannabinoids to different parts of your body, including your brain. This process happens very quickly, and you’ll typically feel the effects a few minutes after inhalation.
The rapid effects of vaping can make it a preferred consumption method for people that experience episodes of sudden pain or anxiety. For example, someone who experiences migraines, which can be debilitating and appear suddenly, may benefit from fast relief.
Other medical cannabis forms, such as oils or capsules, are first processed in the liver before they take effect. While the effects of cannabis oils and other ingestible forms usually last longer, they also take much longer to appear compared to vaping. After ingesting medical cannabis, you might not find relief from your symptoms for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.