5 Things to Know About Cannabis Vape Cartridges

5 Things to Know About Cannabis Vape Cartridges

July 11, 2023

The introduction of cannabis cartridges has transformed the way patients and adults in recreational states engage with cannabis. Traditional practices of steamy, pungent, and suffocating smoke sessions now pale in comparison to the modern, refined, and enjoyable vaping experience.

Although the popularity and availability of cannabis cartridges have surged across the United States over the past decade, there is still much for consumers to discover and understand about the products they are using.

1.   Not All Cannabinoids are the Same

Cannabinoids are a type of compound found in cannabis plants, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health explains. These compounds interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors throughout your endocannabinoid system.

There are about 540 chemical substances in cannabis plants — and there are at least 100 types of cannabinoids that exist besides THC and CBD.

Delta 9 THC is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis plants and one of the most widely-studied cannabinoids, according to a Surgical Neurology International Journal review. Delta 9 THC activates the CB1 and CB2 receptors.

Activation of the CB1 receptors through Delta 9 THC is associated with a decrease in pain perception. CB2 receptor activation is associated with immune regulation and anti-inflammation.

According to the National Cancer Institute, Delta 8 THC is a psychoactive compound associated with:

  • Appetite stimulation
  • Decreases in anxiety
  • Nausea and vomiting reduction
  • Neuroprotection
  • Pain relief

There are also many non-psychoactive cannabinoids found in cannabis, which include:

  • Cannabidiol (CBD)
  • Cannabigerol (CBG)
  • Cannabichromene (CBC)
  • Cannabidivarin (CBDV)

 2.   Vaping Cannabis is Safer Than Traditionally Smoking Flower

When you light a joint or a bowl, you’re exposing your lungs to toxins and carcinogens released from combustion, says the American Lung Association. The same is true for inhaling secondhand smoke from sparking up cannabis.

While there’s still more research underway on the effects of vaping cannabis oil, one thing’s for sure: when you hit a cartridge, you’re not inhaling the toxins and carcinogens that you would from a joint, blunt, or bowl.

Vaping oil is a lot different than vaping dry herb though, check our The Pros and Cons of Vaping vs Smoking Weed here.

3.   Watch Out for Filler Products and Terpene Origin

Expanding on our previous statement, it is important to exercise caution when utilizing cannabis cartridges. Certain vape cartridges employ solvents like polyethylene glycol (PEG) and propylene glycol (PG).

According to a report by the National Academy of Sciences, the prolonged consequences of vaping these solvents are currently being studied. However, some research has indicated that they may impact the likelihood of developing asthma, trigger pneumonia, and elicit allergic reactions in certain individuals. Additionally, they can potentially irritate the eyes and throat.

Related article: What Are Terpenoids And What Do They Do?

However, the most significant health hazards associated with cannabis cartridges arise from the potential additives utilized in states where cannabis production lacks strict regulation. This risk also applies to the use of "street carts," which are illegally obtained from unlicensed sources, such as drug dealers.

4.   Cannabis Vape Oil Comes in Multiple Forms

When you go to a dispensary, you may see “CO2,” “Distillate,” or “Liquid Live Resin”/”Live” cartridges listed on their menu. These titles denote how the vape oil inside of the cartridge was extracted. 

  • CO2 Cannabis Cartridges: CO2 Cannabis Cartridges: CO2 — a naturally-occurring compound — is used as a solvent to extract cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis flowers.

  • Distillate Cannabis Cartridges: Distillates are highly-refined cannabis oil that contains very potent amounts of cannabinoids. However, distillates on their own are very thick. A thinning agent is often added in order to use distillate cannabis oil in vape cartridges.

  • Liquid Live Resin/Live Cannabis Cartridges: Live resin cartridges undergo a similar extraction process as CO2 cartridges, but the main difference is the flower is frozen immediately after it’s harvested instead of dried. This helps preserve more of the natural compounds from the plant, resulting in a higher-quality product. As a result, live cartridges are often more expensive than other options.

5.   There Are Many Different Cannabis Cartridges Styles

Cannabis cartridges exhibit diversity in their dimensions, configurations, and compatibility with different devices. The prevalent variant is the 510 thread cartridge, although even within this category, variations can be found among manufacturers. Some brands incorporate metal coils in their cartridges, while others employ cotton wicks. Moreover, cartridge tips can be made of metal, glass, plastic, or wood.

Prior to purchasing a cannabis cartridge, it is advisable to confirm its compatibility with your device. This can be achieved by inquiring about the type of thread from the budtender..


Cannabis cartridges have gained popularity as a safer and more discreet alternative to traditional smoking methods. Vaping cannabis allows users to enjoy the therapeutic benefits or recreational effects of cannabis without the harshness and potential health risks associated with smoking. The cartridges themselves are designed to deliver a smooth and controlled experience, making them appealing to a wide range of consumers.

However, while using cannabis cartridges may seem straightforward, there is a deeper understanding to be gained about the various elements involved. Educating yourself on the nuances of cannabinoids, additives, extraction processes, and cartridge styles can significantly enhance your overall vaping experience.

Important resources

Here are some reliable resources that provide further information on the topics discussed in the article:

  1. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) - Cannabis and Cannabinoids: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/cannabis-marijuana-and-cannabinoids-what-you-need-to-know

  2. American Lung Association - Vaping and Lung Health: https://www.lung.org/quit-smoking/smoking-facts/vaping-and-lung-health

  3. National Academy of Sciences - The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK425762/

  4. Leafly - What Are Terpenes and What Do They Do?: https://www.leafly.com/learn/cannabis-terpenes

  5. Medical News Today - What Is Delta-8-THC?: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/delta-8-thc

  6. Project CBD - Cannabinoids & Your Health: https://www.projectcbd.org/science/cannabis-pharmacology/cannabinoids-your-health

  7. Weedmaps - CO2 Oil Extraction: Your Complete Guide: https://weedmaps.com/learn/cannabis-and-the-body/co2-oil-extraction

  8. Leafly - How to Choose the Best THC Vape Cartridge for You: https://www.leafly.com/news/strains-products/how-to-choose-best-thc-vape-cartridge

  9. NORML - State Medical Marijuana Laws: https://norml.org/states

These resources provide valuable information on cannabinoids, vaping safety, extraction processes, terpenes, and the legal aspects of cannabis. They can serve as references for readers seeking in-depth knowledge on the subject matter.