Kristina Etter   |   November 11, 2021

New Vape Technology: 4 Devices that Ensure Safer Cannabis Inhalation

Technology innovations in cannabis consumption look to solve a variety of problems.
Kristina Etter spent 20 years in corporate IT with a niche in mobile technology and IoT in agriculture. Today, she combines her love of technology with a passion for cannabis as the Editorial Director for Cannabis Tech.

In recent years, consumers have become more conscientious about the products they use. Whether we’re talking about foods and beverages, cosmetics and lotions, or tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of what they’re putting into their bodies.

Unlike tobacco and alcohol, in many cases, consumers are turning to cannabis products as an alternative to side-effect-riddled pharmaceuticals and using various commercial products for health and wellness benefits.

Sadly, many of these products lack consistent dosing capability. And, as we learned from EVALI in 2019, without careful regulation, additives, contaminants, and toxic byproducts can ultimately cause more harm than good in vape devices. And as with all intoxicating substances, there’s always the concern of preventing child access.

While mandated emissions testing recently imposed in Colorado will help eliminate many of these problems, the quest for safer cannabis consumption continues for vape manufacturers. We’ve rounded up four of the most innovative vape solutions designed for safe, efficient, and responsible cannabis consumption.

Problem #1 – Measuring an Inhaled Volume

Can you imagine if pharmaceutical medications came in powder form and doctors prescribed a pinch of this or dash of that? Dosing cannabis, especially in an inhalable format, can be tricky.

When inhaling cannabis, the volume is often dependent on how the consumer inhales. Some may take long, deep draws off an inhaler device, while others take shorter puffs. These differences can make it difficult for physicians to monitor their patients’ actual session activities accurately.

Additionally, the cannabinoid content can vary significantly from product to product. These inconsistencies in products can make it extraordinarily difficult for consumers to achieve consistent, repeatable results.

The Solution: RYAH Smart Inhaler

Introducing new solutions in patient session monitoring, control, feedback, and formulation data analytics; RYAH is a multi-IoT device solution and is much broader than an inhaler company. Instead, they are “more of an IoT solution, data and digital care platform,” according to company CEO Gregory Wagner.

The RYAH Smart Inhalers bake dry herb cannabis through a ‘heat-not burn process’ via convection, extracting the moisture or vapor out of the material slowly while not burning the contents. While this technology isn’t new to cannabis consumption, how the platform controls the user session is remarkable.

Discussing how the device works, Wagner explained, “when a patient reaches a session limit, the device stops them from overdosing. Using QR code technology, it loads the entire lab results of the strain, which materially mitigates illicit products from going inside the devices.”

Wagner also emphasized that all of the data, including captive patient data, is stored on a HIPAA-compliant cloud in AWS.  The device can capture patient indications and details from the entire patient session, like what temperature was used, how many draws they took, how many milliliters per draw, and how many times they consumed per day.

As a medical device, the ultimate goal is patient efficacy, and therefore the platform also collects and tracks physical and mental feedback so their physicians can have insight into what is working for their patients and what isn’t.

Understanding the value of this kind of raw data, Wagner stated, “Our goal would be one day to be able to give away the devices and focus on collecting, interpreting and providing the data analytics as a service.”

“Essentially, users of RYAH devices are part of what we consider the largest, living study ever created in plant-based therapies, and it’s all happening in a real-time basis,” Wagner concluded. “Data is the new gold, and we’re mining for it – our pickaxe is the device.”

Problem #2 – Reducing Unintentional Child Exposure

Look, there’s no denying it – no matter how well you attempt to hide something, children capable of walking are capable of finding your stash. According to data recently published in Canada, the number of emergency room visits for unintentional cannabis exposure in kids has increased dramatically since legalization.

Dr. Yaron Finkelstein, Senior Scientist, Child Health Evaluative Sciences at SickKids, stated, “While uncommon in adults, cannabis intoxication can have significant negative impacts on young children including behavioral changes, seizures, respiratory depression, problems with coordination and balance, and even coma. As different formulations of cannabis continue to be legalized, it is important for everyone who has cannabis in their home to be aware of the potential harms to children and ensure cannabis products are safely stored.”

The Solution: PurTec Delivery Systems

Programmer, entrepreneur and father, Corey Mangold launched PurTec Delivery Systems to address these and other concerns for responsible parents. Mangold explained in an interview with Cannabis Tech, “We worked with our manufacturing partner in China to conduct an 18-month safety study in Switzerland. We analyzed all the other cartridges on the market, both in the cannabis and nicotine sectors, and we noticed a lot of glaring issues, such as heavy metals, toxic glues and adhesives, and really low-quality ceramic that breaks apart.”

Although Colorado is the first state to require emissions testing on inhalable products, Mangold and his team at PurTec test all their cartridges and components for safety. Beyond consumer safety, the PurGuard technology takes precautions a step further.

PurGuard is software that pairs with the firmware installed on the vape device. A QR code opens an application, runs through an identity and age verification process using facial recognition and artificial intelligence. Once the user is validated, it unlocks the device.

“We can also set the device to auto-lock, so if the phone disengages with the device, it locks the device so no one else can use it,” Mangold explained.

“Our major initiative for the past 12 months has been consumer safety and think protecting minors is first and foremost when it comes to ensuring safety,” he concluded.

Problem #3 – Inconsistencies in Products

With dozens of active compounds, cannabis extracts can vary greatly from product to product, strain to strain, and even batch to batch. Each of these compounds has different boiling points, and all of these variables can make it challenging to achieve the perfect draw with a vape device.

Additionally, the way consumers inhale varies significantly. Some inhale with long, deep draws, while others take smaller, lighter puffs. These differences create different temperatures with vaporization devices.

In many cases, vapes aren’t truly vaporizing either. During a phone call, Mladen Barbaric, CEO of Airgraft, explained, “True vaporization converts a liquid molecule into a gas molecule in a phase change, not a molecular change. But most cannabis and nicotine vaporizers are simple contraptions that apply a constant current that heats the coil quickly.”

“Once you blow past the goal temperature, there’s a conversion of the molecule which can create volatile substances, aldehydes, and so on,” he explained. Unfortunately, the cost of adding the necessary technology, chipsets, and high-quality components to prevent this can add up quickly.

The Solution: Airgraft Cartridges and Memberships

Using complex algorithms, the technology built into the Airgraft cartridges and systems creates the ideal temperature path based on the lab results of the contents within it.

Barbaric explained, “We have a chipset inside each cartridge that recognizes the cartridges, identifies the extract, and applies a dynamic heating algorithm that changes based on the type of draw and the compounds within the extract to optimize how it reaches the right boiling point.”

But, with technology like this, Barbaric admits, “It’s hard to compete with the cheapest, most-commoditized piece of hardware from Chinese manufacturers. We use heated food-safe materials, add chipsets and technology – essentially, we’re adding cost to the cartridges and the system.”

But rather than be elitist and demand higher prices, Airgraft has established a unique membership program to minimize expenses.

“One of the key issues in the cannabis is that the supply chain and distribution channels are very fragmented. So, when an extractor buys the cartridges, it becomes the cost of goods, and for every dollar, they pay for the hardware, the consumer pays four to five dollars,” Barbaric explained.

“This discourages innovation and incentivizes manufacturers to cut corners,” he continued.

Instead, Airgraft gives the cartridges and the packaging to their partnered brands and extractors with the understanding that they cannot mark up any of the hardware or packaging, so when members buy an Airgraft pod, they’re literally only paying for the cannabis inside – the membership covers the cost of cartridges, packaging, and technology.

Problem #4 – Metal Leaching - Toxins and Contaminants

As an organically grown herb, eaten raw cannabis and hemp pose little threat to the consumer. Without heat, cannabis isn’t even intoxicating. However, introduce a catalyst like heat, and that quickly changes.

Terpenes, volatile aromatics naturally found in cannabis, can become carcinogenic when heated to extreme temperatures. When inhaled into the lungs, these toxins are easily absorbed into the bloodstream and can create significant health issues.

Now, factor in cheaply made vaporization devices using poor quality metals and ceramics. With excessive heat, these components can shed cancer-causing heavy metals like cadmium and lead and silica particles from ceramic coils. Heavy metal ingestion can cause high blood pressure, kidney disease, and brain damage. 

For this reason, the popularity of ceramic coils has risen in recent years. However, some research suggests that ceramic may not be the perfect solution either. Inhalation of silica is extraordinarily hazardous to the lungs. Just a few of the known health problems from inhaling silica include,

  • Silicosis: lung disease due to inhalation of silica dust
  • Permanent lung damage
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Trachea scarring
  • And lung cancer

The Solution: Introducing The Beam

Meet the Beam, a cannabis concentrates vaporization device that uses light to heat extracts instead of metal components. With this ingenious device, no metals ever come in contact with the cannabis product, and it keeps temperatures below 420 degrees. The Beam uses high-quality, fully-cured ceramic that is inert and safe.

Standard cartridges allow for terpenes and other compounds to be heated repeatedly before they are inhaled. The Beam, on the other hand, only heats the material being vaporized during each session. Scheduled to launch on November 16th, The Beam will be available to the general public soon!

Technology advances like these continue to evolve the way we consume cannabis. The rapid increase in innovation only leaves one to wonder where will this technology take us in another five to ten years? 

 

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