Rolling a joint or packing a pipe are the cannabis equivalents of treating the sick with leeches, or starting a car with a crank, compared to the latest generation of vaporizers hitting the market.
Price ceilings and technological limits seem non-existent as a new, sophisticated generation of cannabis users ditch plastic bongs filled with blackened, foul-smelling water for sleek pens that don’t look out of place in the breast pocket of a well-tailored suit.
For the uninitiated, vaporizers work by heating flower or concentrate to the point where cannabinoids can be extracted through inhaled vapour. Most users find it far less harsh on their lungs than cannabis smoke.
For the most part, the challenge for manufacturers has been shrinking high-quality heating elements into a small package while achieving a decent battery life. That’s still the case, but now vaporizers are taking on the features of smartphones and using apps to optimize the experience.
Lifespot Health Ltd. (LSH.AX) an Australian medical diagnostic and monitoring technology company, recently released a bluetooth-connected cannabis vaporizer that unlocks with the owner’s fingerprint, adjusts dose strength on a screen, and shares data with medical professionals in real time.
“I don’t think anyone’s got the fully-integrated system like we do,” Lifespot Health’s non-executive chairman Rodney Hannington told Yahoo Finance Canada. “As the user vapes, they can enter their pain score and we can track how much they are vaping, and if their pain is being relieved or not.”
Lifespot Health has connected its BodyTel patient monitoring technology to a suite of medical equipment from heart sensors to blood sugar monitors. The company fully acquired a German vaporizer manufacturer last September called Seng-Vital, which manufactures the Cannamed bluetooth vaping system.
Hannington said the Cannamed medical device will be sold through medical clinics for about US$200, plus fees for data services. Lifespot Health is also working with two undisclosed companies in Canada and the U.S. to brand and sell a recreational version for $100 to $150.
Clouds of vape data
Allowing doctors to actively monitor cannabis vaping habits, and even shut down the device remotely if they feel it’s being misused, may sound dystopian. Hannington insists the close communication is warranted, given the lack of rigorous clinical trials on various medical cannabis applications.
Privacy is a major concern, given medical and recreational cannabis remains illegal in many parts of the world. Hannington assures that Lifespot Health handles its medical data in a “patient compliant” manner. Once a sufficient number of users is achieved, the data could provide valuable insight into consumption trends and pain relieve, he said.
Many observers believe vaping will become the preferred way to consume medical cannabis. Last October, Aurora Cannabis Inc. (ACB.TO) revealed Aurora Cloud, the first Health Canada compliant vape-ready CBD oil line from a licensed producer. CEO Terry Booth said the new product addresses an unmet need in the market.
Dial in your high
Scores of inexperienced users will test their cannabis tolerance of the first time as more jurisdictions liberalize policy on medical and recreational use.
The ability to consistently dial in the right dose is a key feature Lifespot Health and other manufacturers, like Denver-based Gofire Inc., are building into their devices. Finding the right setting could mean the difference between a light buzz or being locked to your couch for hours.
The benefits of fingerprint activation are obvious. Kids can’t inhale what they can’t unlock.
Lifespot Health is also looking at developing geolocation functionality that could prevent users from vaping in certain areas, near schools or hospitals, for example. A refill reminder feature is another idea on the drawing board.
“We can track the user’s volume,” Harrington said. “Then we can ping them (on their smartphone) and say, ‘You are going to run out in a couple of days. Do you want to reorder more cannabis?’”