Everything You Need to Know About Vaping CBD Oil

CBD Oil in a Vape Pen

 iStockphoto / HighGradeRoots

Vaping has grown in popularity—especially among teens and young adults. One of the newest trends impacting this growing vape culture is the desire to vape cannabidiol (CBD) oil.

However, vaping CBD oil poses many health risks. Learn more about the potential side effects and hazards of vaping CBD oil and other ways of getting the potential benefits of CBD.

Why People Vape CBD Oil

Part of the draw to CBD oil in areas where marijuana has been legalized is the fact that it has been touted as helping treat a host of medical problems. Some of the medical issues people claim that the oil treats include:

  • Anxiety
  • Epileptic seizures
  • Inflammation
  • Sleeplessness

While promising, more research is needed to explore and verify the possible benefits of CBD. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved only one CBD-based medication, which is used to treat seizures associated with two severe forms of epilepsy.

And while other research suggests that CBD might have mental health effects, there is currently not enough evidence to recommend it as a treatment for any mental health condition. Although the FDA has warned manufacturers against making unproven health claims, it has not done much to stop the sale of CBD products.

What Is CBD Oil?

CBD oil is extracted from the flowers and buds of marijuana or hemp plants. Typically, it does not produce a "high" or intoxication because it contains very little, if any, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

CBD oil is only permitted to contain less than 0.3% of THC oil. CBD oil is legal in states where medicinal or recreational marijuana is legal and several other states have CBD-specific laws.

According to the FDA, it is currently illegal to market CBD by adding it to food or marketing it as a supplement. Despite these guidelines, they warn consumers that some CBD products are being marketed with unproven medical claims and are of unknown quality.

The FDA also cautions consumers that CBD can harm the liver and may interact with other medications you are taking. And it may even have a negative impact on male fertility.

Is Vaping CBD Oil Safe?

Generally speaking, vaping is an unsafe practice regardless of what substances are in the vape pen. CBD oil is no exception.

Vaping Lung Injuries

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently linked vaping products to an outbreak of nearly 3,000 lung illnesses so serious that even young people were being admitted to the hospital.

Nearly 70 people have died from what is now being called EVALI (e-cigarette and vaping-associated lung injury). And, the CDC believes thousands more may have been admitted to the hospital with lung issues related to vaping.

Although the CDC has traced many EVALI hospitalizations back to vitamin E acetate, a substance used to dilute oils used in vaping, the risks of vaping CBD oil are not without risk. This is particularly true if vape pens are obtained from illicit dealers, online sources, or friends. At least 26 of the EVALI cases were hospitalized after vaping CBD oil.

Concern About Long-Term Effects

Additionally, numerous scientists, doctors, and researchers are concerned with the safety of inhaling CBD oil because little is known about the long-term effects. What's more, when vaping devices are heated, a chemical reaction takes place in the vapor, which could pose additional risks to the lungs, especially in young people.

Potential Side Effects of Vaping CBD

In addition to the potential for lung injury, vaping CBD may also have various other side effects. These can include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Impaired memory and thinking
  • Nausea
  • Stomach upset
  • Vomiting

CBD may also worsen anxiety, cause changes in mood, and affect appetite

CBD Lacks Regulation

The 2018 Farm Bill removed CBD from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. However, it is still subject to the same laws and regulations as other substances monitored by the FDA.

Unfortunately, though, there is very little regulatory oversight of CBD oil in general—even though vaping is one of the most popular ways of using the oil. The FDA has not yet determined how to regulate CBD vaping products just yet.

Regulation and Oversight Is Needed

But many people are hoping those regulations will happen soon. Even the CBD industry is concerned and asking for oversight. For instance, organizations like the U.S. Hemp Authority cannot certify CBD oils as it does with CBD topicals, tinctures, and edibles without more regulations. And, until that happens, consumers have very little way of knowing what they are getting when they purchase a CBD oil.

Mislabeling Is Common

To make matters worse, this lack of certification has led people to sell vaping liquid they claim contains CBD oil when it contains harmful chemicals, which injure and kill people in the process.

To determine the extent to which this occurs, the Associated Press (AP) commissioned a study to analyze the contents of nearly 30 oils claiming to contain CBD. Their testing was completed by Flora Research Laboratories in Grants Pass, Oregon, which is licensed and inspected by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

What they discovered is that:

  • 10 of the 30 vapes contained synthetic marijuana
  • Others had no CBD oil at all
  • Eight oils had no detectable level of CBD
  • 14 were less than 0.3% CBD by weight
  • The other six ranged between 1.07% and 8.87% CBD by weight

Because this testing was such a small sample, the AP noted that their sampling was not representative of the entire CBD market. However, their testing shows how risky it is to vape CBD oil.

When there is little to no product regulation, vape consumers have no idea what they are getting when they take a puff.

Alternatives to Vaping CBD

If you want to try CBD but want to avoid the risks associated with vaping, there are other ways to administer the substance. CBD is available in a variety of forms, including:

  • Beverages
  • Capsules
  • Edibles
  • Gummies
  • Nasal sprays
  • Tablets

While these products avoid the risk of lung injury, it is essential to remember that they are also unregulated. Research has found that the mislabeling of CBD products is rampant, affecting as much as 70% of CBD products sold online.

If you choose to purchase CBD, look for manufacturers who utilize third-party testing to verify the ingredients and contents of their products.

A Word From Verywell

If you are considering vaping CBD oil to address a medical concern, talk to your doctor first. The risks associated with vaping and CBD oil are significant and may not provide the benefits you want.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see Verywell's National Helpline Database.

7 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA Approves the First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy.

  2. Black N, Stockings E, Campbell G, Tran LT, Zagic D, Hall WD, et al. Cannabinoids for the treatment of mental disorders and symptoms of mental disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysisThe Lancet Psychiatry. 2019;6(112):P995-1010. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(19)30401-8

  3. FDA. FDA regulation of dietary supplements and conventional food products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds

  4. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. What you need to know (and what we’re working to find out) about products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds, including CBD.

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Outbreak of lung injury associated with the use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products.

  6. Associated Press. How the Associated Press collected information on CBD vapes.

  7. Bonn-miller MO, Loflin MJE, Thomas BF, Marcu JP, Hyke T, Vandrey R. Labeling accuracy of cannabidiol extracts sold onlineJAMA. 2017;318(17):1708-1709. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.11909

By Sherri Gordon
Sherri Gordon, CLC is a published author, certified professional life coach, and bullying prevention expert. She's also the former editor of Columbus Parent and has countless years of experience writing and researching health and social issues.