Safe To Smoke – Vaporizing Cannabinoids


Phytoinhalation- non burning ingestion of active principles

The usual irritating and toxic breakdown products of burning utilized with smoking are totally avoided with vaporization. Extraction and inhaling cannabinoid essential oils below ignition temperature of both crude and refined cannabis products affords significant mitigation of irritation to the oral cavity, and tracheobronchial tree from pyrollytic breakdown products.

Herodotus first described vaporizing cannabinoids in the 5th century BC:

”The Scythians then take the seeds of this hemp and, creeping under the mats, they throw them on the red hot stones; and, being so thrown, they smolder and send forth so much steam that no Greek vapor bath could surpass it. The Scythians howl in their joy at their vapor-bath. This serves them instead of bathing, for they never wash their bodies with water.”[i]

Purified cannabinoids were noted to boil at 150° – 180° C. (302° – 356° F) by Wood, Spivey, and Easterfield (J Chem S, v lxix, 539) in the 20th Ed. 1918 U.S. Dispensatory.[ii]

Red oil, an extractive product from organic solvents and filtration, was described by Adams in 1940 to boil at 180° – 190° C. (356° – 374° F)[iii]

The Merck Index lists the boiling point of delta 1 Tetrahydrocannabinol as 200° C (392° F)[iv]

The author first recommended vaporizing cannabinoids in 1993[v] with the observation that vaporizing cannabinoids takes place below ignition temperature with much less exposure to the numerous breakdown products of burning. Vaporizers, a video was published in 1999, updated 2002 documenting different devices in use.[vi]
Gieringer in a two part study compared vaporized cannabis with smoked cannabis and different smoking devices and found vaporizers to be free from tars or other breakdown products of combustion.[vii]

The Superior Vaporization Technique McCoy TR[viii] in a thoroughly documented description of using the Vripmaster vaporization device utilizing different adjustable heat guns.

June 2000 at the International Cannabinoid Research Society meeting Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative director Jeff Jones demonstrated a Vripmaster /Steinel HG3002LCD heat gun.

Classic Pharmaceuticals sponsored the first vaporizer contest in Redway on November 11, 2000 with eight entrants and minimal publicity.

Regarding the use of thermostatically controlled heat gun devices, patients report positive feedback regarding efficacy and prefer to smoking cannabis. Instead of losing drug to combustion, which continues after inhalation, the heat gun is turned off and the vaporization halted.

The freedom from breakdown products of burning permits appreciation of aromas and tastes of cannabis. Hot air essential oil extraction process from granulated crude cannabis appears to be the most efficient and temperature controllable. Furthermore, there are significant changes in the composition and rate of vaporization with the increase in temperature. Delicate and distinctive aromas and tastes at the lower temperatures change in character and intensity as temperature increases. For product description it will be appropriate to characterize first aroma, second taste, and psychic effects.

While the Merck Index lists delta 1, 9THC as vaporizing at 392° F, the actual subjective experience is that the vaporization of cannabinoids is a function of temperature and amount. While delta 1, 9 THC may vaporize at that temperature the other cannabinoids go into vapor phases at temperatures significantly below.

Starting at room temperature in a bud trimming room with significant exposed crude cannabis affects me and others not adapted to ambient levels of cannabis vapor. With granulated crude cannabis supplemented with condensed refined resin vaporization takes place at lower temperatures. (190 – 200° F).

Using a Vriptech with a Steinel HG 3002LCD at 360° F appears optimal. Between 360° and 390°F there appears to be irritative pyrollytic degradation products out gassing. There is agreement with users at the 390° F and above there are pyrollytic.

I would strongly recommend that all cannabis centers utilize vaporization to screen and categorize products to better detect pesticide residues or other contaminants.

These cannabis tasters would also better characterize the qualitative properties of the samples and give feedback to the provider as well as inform the customers.

In addition to protecting customers it gives providers quality standards. Similarly, all cannabis cup competition organizers should be encouraged to vaporize the products to permit a more complete and sophisticated description of competing products.

Vaporization constitutes a salient breakthrough in cannabis therapeutics because of safety and avoiding the other disadvantages of smoking cannabis. Additionally, the complexities from the enhanced appreciation of tastes and aromas adds aesthetic dimensions to cannabis products that are obscured by smoking. Improvement of health in marijuana smokers who ingest high impurity product in large amounts appreciate inhaling cannabinoids instead.

Clinical and chemical analysis of vapor from crude cannabis at different temperatures to define and quantify mixtures of cannabinoids and other products is needed. This research will provide empirical bases for optimal medicinal efficacy of different cultivars for specific symptoms inhaled at specific temperatures.

Environmentally, vaporization systems are safe and acceptable in a non smoking environments. The high quality heat guns are essentially the similar to hair dryers and will be suitable for use in hospitals and other health care settings. With proper technique there are minimal emissions compared with smoking.

Semantically, inhaling cannabinoids permits one to self-righteously and honestly say: Me, smoke marijuana? Never.

Tod H. Mikuriya

[i] Kimmens AC Tales of Hashish William Morrow & Co NY 1977 Herodotus, histories iv. 73-75 (5th Century B.C.) 270 – 271.

[ii] Remington, JP, Wood, HC, et al The Dispensatory of the United States 20th Ed. 1918 pp 276 281.

[iii] Adams R, Marijuana NY Acad of Med v 18, 1943 Reprinted Marijuana Medical Papers, 1839 – 1972 Ed Mikuriya, TH MediComp Press 1973 345 – 374

[iv] The Merck Index 12th Ed Merck & Co. Whitehouse Station, NJ 1996 p 1573

[v] Mikuriya, TH Vaporization of Cannabinoids: A Preferable Drug Delivery Route 12/16/93

[vi] Cannabis Vaporizers video Classic Pharmaceuticals – Godfrey Productions 1999 5min 15 seconds. Presented at First National Clinical Cannabis Therapeutic Conference, Iowa City, 2000 and Biorresouces Hemp 2000, Wolfsburg Germany.

[vii]Gieringer, D Newsletter of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies
MAPS – Volume 6 Number 3 Summer 1996, Update NORML News Jan 11, 2001

[viii] McCoy TR The Superior Vaporization Technique 1998 10 pp VRIPTECH rev 4/20/00 ©1998 VripTech Int. 1998