Tag Archives: marijuana

Is Health Canada Contradicting Itself?

Health CanadaSince 2009 Health Canada has placed a ban on marketing or selling e-cigarettes with nicotine.  Their stance is they need market authorization in the same way a nicotine patch or gum needs authorization within Canada.  As we mentioned in the past, non-nicotine electronic cigarettes are fine, since they do not contain any substances that warrant involvement with Health Canada.

What is curious is that it appears Health Canada does know the benefits of vaporization over combustion, as they state on their website with regards to vaporizing marijuana:

The advantages of vaporization apparently include the formation of a smaller quantity of toxic by-products such as carbon monoxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and tar, as well as a more efficient extraction of THC from the cannabis material (47,48,49,43,50). The subjective effects and plasma concentrations of THC are comparable to those of smoked cannabis with absorption being somewhat faster with the vaporizer (43). The vaporizer is well-tolerated, with no reported adverse effects, and is generally preferred over smoking by most subjects (43)

And as Brad Rodu (Professor of Medicine at the University of Louisville) points out in his recent blog post:

Among the comment’s scientific references, the most frequently cited is a study of vaporized marijuana published in 2007 by scientists at the University of California at San Francisco (abstract here).  It concluded:
“Whereas smoking marijuana increased [carbon monoxide, CO] levels as expected for inhalation of a combustion product, there was little if any increase in CO after inhalation of THC from the vaporizer. This indicates little or no exposure to gaseous combustion toxins. Combustion products are harmful to health and reflect a major concern about the use of marijuana cigarettes for medical therapy as expressed by the Institute of Medicine… Vaporization of marijuana does not result in exposure to combustion gases, and therefore is expected to be much safer than smoking marijuana cigarettes. The vaporizer was well tolerated and preferred by most subjects compared to marijuana cigarettes.”
From this, let’s make a leap:  Health Canada would recommend, if you were intent on smoking marijuana, that you vaporize it because it is better for you.  However, they would NOT recommend, if you were intent on smoking cigarettes, that you use an e-cigarette.
Yes, there are other nicotine replacement “therapies” such as the patch or gum, but these are to quit smoking.  What if a smoker wanted to keep smoking and getting nicotine, but wanted a safer method?  Is Health Canada going against it’s stated mission of “helping Canadians maintain and improve their health, while respecting individual choices and circumstance”.  If they know vaporization is safer than combustion and they want to respect individual choices, they why would they deny Canadians the option of an electronic cigarette?
We encourage you to write Health Canada and your Member of Parliament and ask them.