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Examining different devices for patients
Like accessories, devices can be a nuanced topic in the discussion about how best to incorporate medical cannabis into a therapy. Oftentimes, these products – particularly the traditional tools – don’t come with a user’s manual. Newer products, like oil pens and pre-loaded vape cartridges, have their own set of idiosyncrasies. Understanding the similarities of, and differences between, cannabis devices is a solid starting point to properly medicating with cannabis.
These devices can come in a range of forms and fashions, and all have one goal – to help in the decarboxylation of cannabis and concentrates to unlock the valuable properties of the plant. Some devices are rudimentary and, really, can be as simple as any household item turned into a means of consuming cannabis. Contemporary devices, however, are outfitted with nearly every characteristic needed for a patient to begin a healthy and informed cannabis regimen.
Traditional Tools
Decarboxylating cannabis for consumption is really as simple as a lighter and a device. Using any number of traditional tools, like bongs, pipes or even rolling papers, patients can unlock the therapeutic potential of the plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes. While these tools typically present a means of medicating that is effective, they are not always the most efficient. Because much plant matter is needed to fill a rolling paper, for instance, this can be somewhat costly way to medicate. On the other hand, bongs and pipes generally only call for a small bit of whole flowers, though the health impacts of combustion should be taken into consideration.1
The vaporizer remains the most innovative product introduced to the cannabis space, perhaps ever. Recommended by most healthcare professionals in the space, the vaporizer is prized for both its efficacy and health benefits. Unlike traditional tools, vaporizers are designed to heat cannabinoids and allow patients to medicate without combusting plant material into the lungs. One device, the Volcano, even has an official medical certification. Available as a desktop or handheld device, vaporizers are reported to reduce the intake of harmful toxins by about 90% over combustion. As whole flowers continue to be consumed at a higher rate than concentrates, patients have continued to turn to vaporizers, which are now ubiquitous in the space, in increasing numbers.2
Oil Pens
A relatively new entrant to the cannabis space, oil pens have become popular particularly among medical patients. These pens, which are produced by a number of different companies, are sleek and easy to store and use. Usually fitted with a simple design that allows cannabis concentrates like oil, wax and butter to be placed in a chamber and heated, oil pens are an efficient means of consuming extracts by inhalation. One downside to many of these devices is that, while considered vapes, most are actually simply oil pens. The concentrates consumed using these devices shouldn’t be viewed as vaped, but rather a healthy option because of the matter – a concentrate – being consumed.
Pre-Loaded Cartridges
Easily the most popular product in the contemporary cannabis space, pre-loaded cartridges take all the guess work out of medicating. These cartridges come with the strain and cannabinoid content listed on the packaging and most have a pre-set intake volume. What this means is that every dose is precise and the particulars of what is being consumed is accurate. For patients looking to treat a particular condition or symptom, these tools, which are exclusive to pre-loaded cartridges, can make medicating as simple taking a single puff from a discreet device.

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