Whether you’re a long-time dispensary patron or you’re new to the medical marijuana world, you might have heard the buzz about “carts”—marijuana vape cartridges that can be smoked using a vaporizing device (also called a “vape”).
What are carts? Are there different kinds? Do they offer any benefits for medical marijuana patients? Are there any risks?
In this guide, we’ll answer all of these questions and more.
Carts have gained popularity recently. Understanding these devices is crucial for everyone using medical cannabis, especially when you want to ensure you’re consuming safely and efficiently.
Read on for an in-depth look at this popular consumption method.
What Are Vape Cartridges?
A vape cartridge is a compact device filled with smokable oil. When activated, the heating element warms the oil, producing vapor for inhalation.
In the case of marijuana carts, this oil contains cannabinoids, which are derived from marijuana and come in various types, including THC-rich, CBD-focused, full-spectrum, and isolate versions.
Carts have a few key components that make them easy to identify:
- The cartridge body
- The mouthpiece
- The heating element
- The cannabis oil inside the cartridge’s reservoir
Vape cartridges offer portability, discretion, and convenience, but users should prioritize safety and always choose products from reliable sources.
However, not all carts are created equal. If you’re considering purchasing carts, we’ll explore more specific things to look for later in this guide.
How Do Vape Cartridges Work?
The magic starts when you activate the device:
- The heating element warms the cannabis oil, transforming it into vapor.
- You can then inhale this vapor through the mouthpiece.
Cartridges are either:
- Button-activated, where you press a button to start the heating process, or
- Draw-activated, where your inhalation triggers the heating
It’s important to note that the cart you buy needs to be compatible with the vape device you have. The 510-thread cartridge is the most common, but there are other less common or proprietary varieties to look out for.
Different Types of Vape Cartridges
In addition to different sizes and configurations, there are also numerous oil options to choose from when purchasing marijuana carts. Let’s break down some of the products you might find at a local dispensary.
These cartridges have a high THC content and are often used recreationally for their psychoactive effects.
The THC carts available at your dispensary might be:
- Combined with other cannabinoids – You might see THC carts that also include CBD or minor cannabinoids like CBA or CBG.
- Flavored – Flavored carts are also available, but if you prefer the taste of cannabis oil alone, make sure to mention this to your budtender.
- Available in different concentrations – Just like smoking a flower or eating an edible, cannabinoid concentration is a major factor to consider when choosing a THC cart. Not all carts feature the same concentrations of THC, so you should choose products carefully. If you’re new to medical marijuana, consider starting with the lowest concentration and scaling up as needed.
CBD cartridges contain only CBD—one of the two major cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant.
Smoking CBD vape carts and smoking CBD-only flower are similar:
- Neither produces psychoactive effects – While THC is an intoxicant, CBD is not.
- Both can offer therapeutic benefits – Patients taking CBD report improved sleep, reduced anxiety, and other positive health benefits.
Like THC carts, CBD carts are available in a variety of flavors (though there are unflavored varieties) and concentrations. Your budtender can help you find the perfect cart for your therapeutic goals.
Full-Spectrum and Isolate Cartridges
In addition to CBD and THC carts, there are two additional types available:
- Full-spectrum cartridges contain all the natural compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant.
- Isolate cartridges contain only one type of cannabinoid: THC, CBD, or minor cannabinoids like CBA, CBC, and CBG.
Why might you choose one of these products?
- To reap the benefits of the entourage effect – Full-spectrum oils contain cannabinoids and other compounds called terpenes. Consuming a product that contains multiple kinds of cannabinoids, terpenes, or both can produce an “entourage effect”—the unique result of combining multiple compounds. Talk to your budtender or medical marijuana doctor to see if you might benefit from the entourage effect.
- To experiment with individual compounds – If you’re trying to fine-tune your treatment or discover your perfect cannabinoid formula, smoking isolate carts can help you determine how each individual cannabinoid (THC, CBD, CBA, CBG, etc.) impacts you. Once you know how you respond to each individual compound, you might choose to experiment with combinations.
Both full-spectrum and isolate carts will be well-labeled, but your budtender can help you choose the right product without guesswork.
Pros and Cons of Vape Cartridges
Vape cartridges offer a variety of benefits:
- They’re portable – Simply speaking, you can take a vape almost anywhere. While you should use caution in some scenarios (e.g., air travel, crossing state lines, entering federal facilities like courthouses), carts can provide access to marijuana whenever you need it.
- They’re convenient – Carts are ready to smoke right out of the box (as long as you have a compatible vape pen). No need to roll a joint, prepare glassware, or find a lighter—all you have to do is press a button and inhale to find relief.
- They’re discreet – Smoking flower requires combustion—a process that produces visible smoke and odors. Vaping is much more discreet. Since the cannabis oil is vaporized (turned into steam) instead of combusted (burnt to produce ash and smoke), vaping produces lower odors and much fewer visual effects than smoking. If you’re in a scenario where you need to keep your marijuana use on the down-low, vaping is an excellent option.
However, there are potential risks associated with carts: mainly related to unregulated products and additives. When it comes to medical marijuana, it’s crucial to choose a reliable source.
Purchasing products via legal means through a dispensary or pharmacy can ensure that you’re using a regulated, lab-tested, and accurately labeled product that will help you find repeatable results.
Choosing the Right Vape Cartridge
So, which cart is right for you? The answer depends on your needs and preferences—but we do have a few tips for vaping newcomers:
- Start low and slow – If you’ve only ever smoked flower or you’ve never smoked marijuana before, start with a cart that contains a relatively low concentration of your desired cannabinoid—especially if you’re looking for THC products. Vape oils are typically much more concentrated than flower, so even if you’re a seasoned smoker, you need to use caution to prevent the sometimes overwhelming (though not medically dangerous) effects of taking too much.
- Try isolates – We mentioned above that isolates are an excellent experimental tool for people looking to find their perfect cannabinoid combo. Though you might benefit from the entourage effect later in your journey, trying different isolates can help you get a feel for how you respond to each individual compound.
- Talk to medical marijuana experts – If you’re not sure where to start with carts, you have two key resources: your budtender and your medical marijuana doctor. These experts have in-depth knowledge of all things cannabis, and they can help you choose the right product, monitor your responses, and guide your personal journey.
- Purchase via legal means only – If you’re using marijuana as medicine, you need to be able to produce consistent, repeatable results every time you consume. Since products sold in dispensaries are highly regulated, they’re also consistent—you can expect the same results every time you use the product. Plus, any additives (like additional terpenes) will be noted on the label, so you’ll always know exactly what you’re getting.
Once you find the right cart for you, remember to vape responsibly:
- Stay informed about local regulations and health considerations.
- Only consume the amount of cannabis that’s right for you.
- Avoid vaping in inappropriate or legally gray settings.
You should take vaping as seriously as you would smoking: talk to your trusted healthcare providers about it, avoid overconsumption, and “read the room” before taking a puff in public or indoors.
Carts: An Accessible, Simple Medical Marijuana Product
Vape cartridges are a convenient and popular way to consume cannabis, but they must be used responsibly. Always prioritize safety when using cannabis carts, and be sure you’re making informed decisions when choosing products.
If you’re looking for a community of experts and fellow patients who can support you on your medical cannabis journey, turn to TeleLeaf. We’ve connected our patients with the holistic, all-natural treatments they deserve since 2019—every day, we help people suffering from chronic pain, insomnia, trauma, and other serious health conditions find real relief.
When you need a helping hand on your cannabis journey, turn to TeleLeaf. Learn more about our mission and get connected with the resources you need to thrive. Contact us now!
*Disclaimer: This blog is for educational purposes and does not promote illegal activities. Always follow your local laws regarding cannabis use.*
Vaping360. What Are Weed Carts? Ultimate Guide to Vape Cartridges.
NIH. Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids: What You Need To Know.