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Making the case for medical cannabis vaping



Many patients report that inhaling cannabis flower is more effective for treating their symptoms

With cannabis flower the first-choice for many patients with chronic pain, one company tells Cannabis Health about its aim to make inhalation a medically approved method of consumption.

An increasing number of countries are beginning to permit the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. The most popular and, arguably, more effective method of administration is smoking, but due to the associate health risks, medical professionals are reluctant to prescribe cannabis flower.

Medicinal cannabis is generally prescribed as an oil or tincture, allowing doctors to give an accurate prescription. However, the majority of people who use cannabis to treat a chronic health issue, such as acute pain, choose to consume the plant via inhalation (such as smoking or vaping).

Patients claim that it is more effective for treating their symptoms and although the number of studies to back this up are limited, there is a growing body of research looking at the effects of smoking cannabis flower on pain relief.

A recent study from the University of New Mexico, for example, found that patients suffering with pain were able to better manage their condition by smoking flower,  rather than other administration methods.

Described as a ‘silent epidemic’ by the British Pain Society, chronic pain is thought to affect between one third and one half of the UK population.

Due to the side effects associated with stronger pharmaceutical painkillers, many people are turning to cannabis to treat their pain. Some people use CBD, whilst others require the THC content found in cannabis flower.

The study also revealed that THC was essential for effectively treating pain and suggests that moderate to high levels of the cannabinoid is an “effective mid-level analgesic”.

Given its high bioavailability and quick onset compared to oral consumption, smoking cannabis flower for pain appears to be a natural choice for many.

Kanabo, an Israeli company producing cannabis vapes, is aiming to “medicalise vaporisation” and convince health professionals that inhalation can be a medical route of administration.

Recognising the fact that most medical cannabis consumers favour smoking flower over consuming cannabis oils and tinctures, the company has developed a vaping device that can provide a consistent dose of cannabis, whilst also providing the benefits of inhaling the medicine.

One of the main barriers to making inhalation a medically recognised administration method is the inconsistency of smoking, not to mention the associated risks to patients’ health.

It is understandable that most doctors prescribing cannabis-based medical products favour oils, tinctures and tablets over cannabis flower. In general, doctors feel comfortable prescribing medicines that can be administered orally, despite many patients reporting that ingesting cannabis does not provide the desired effects.

Kanabo founder, Avihu Tamir

Kanabo’s CEO and founder, Avihu Tamir told Cannabis Health: “The number one thing physicians are saying is that they feel uncomfortable prescribing flower. Not because they don’t believe in the health benefits and the potential of this plant, most doctors supporting cannabis do.

“It is because they don’t see it as is a medicine, they say it’s an agricultural plant. It’s not something that you can prescribe a specific dose of, it’s not something that is consistent.”

Tamir continued: “We’re trying to come in between and make everyone happy. Vaporisers, at the end of the day, are mimicking all of the benefits you have when you smoke; the fast onset and the high bioavailability. But at the same time you don’t have the tar in your lungs and you have the metered dosing.”

Although it is easier to prescribe a measured dose of cannabis in oil or tablet form, oral consumption can be unpredictable and the effects often last longer than desired.

When inhaled, the effects can reduce to lower levels within just a few hours, however when ingested, it can take as long as eight hours or more.

Kanabo says its device, the VapePod, can accurately provide the same dose of cannabis on each inhale, allowing doctors to provide accurate prescriptions whist also giving patients their preferred administration method.

“In the cartridge, you’re getting the same consistency of formula – the same levels of CBD levels and THC and even the same levels of terpenes,” Tamir said.

“You have the capability to suddenly prescribe because it’s measurable; you can say every inhalation is one milligram for example.

“It means doctors can speak the language that they’re used to. They have something that is very consistent, which is similar to the benefit they have with oils. And on top of that, it’s a medical device with a medical certification for the formula.”

Through clinical trials currently taking place in Israel, Kanabo hopes to build the data surrounding vaping which is less abundant compared to data on smoking and cannabis oil.

“We’ll be able to see the bioavailability graphs for a vape pen, so for the first time, patients and physicians will see how it looks as a graph of bioavailability,” Tamir added.

“We know today how oils are working. We know today how smoking is working, but it will be the first time that people will see this bioavailability graphs of extract-based vape.”


Cannabis Health is a journalist-led news site. Any views expressed by interviewees or commentators do not reflect our own. All content on this site is intended for educational purposes, please seek professional medical advice if you are concerned about any of the issues raised.

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