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The world of cannabis tech: The medical cannabis inhaler

We speak to Jürgen Bickel, managing director at Storz & Bickel GmbH & Co. KG, who talks to us about the first and, to date, only medical cannabis inhaler on the market.

In 2002, Jürgen Bickel joined Markus Storz, inventor of the VOLCANO Vaporisation System as a partner, and Storz & Bickel GmbH & Co. KG was founded. Together, they established a rapidly-growing international business with highly in demand products and provided the only validated application method for the administration of cannabinoids – through medical cannabis inhalers, which was crucial for the overall acceptance of cannabis as medicine.

With medical cannabis and compliant technology merging at a rapid pace across the globe, here Health Europa explore with Bickel one of the most innovative products in the cannabis industry that is available to patients; the medical cannabis inhaler.

Storz & Bickel GmbH & Co. KG Office

How did you get involved in the cannabis space? What lead to the creation of Storz & Bickel GmbH & Co. KG?

My former partner Markus Storz created his first invention, which was the Volcano Vaporiser. This is a vaporiser with a detachable balloon system that has revolutionised the market and continues to be known as the pioneer of vaporisers.

Storz started the development in 1998, and in 2000 he brought the first series to the market and I was one of his first clients, a year later, him and I joined together to create the company.

Tell me about the technology behind the medical cannabis inhalers

In the nineties, it was realised that cannabis does not need to be combusted. The active ingredients can also be solved by vaporising with hot air and without burning the material. Our company used this concept to develop the Volcano Vaporiser.

Cannabis was traditionally inhaled by smoking. For most patients, this is the simplest and most convenient method because no special device is required. The disadvantage of this method is the inhalation of toxins that are generated when the dried flowers are burned.

Toxic combustion substances such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s), ammonia, and carbon monoxide (can) adversely affect the health of patients. This method is therefore not acceptable for medical use, especially when combustion-free cannabis vaporisers offer an alternative to smoking.

What is the effectiveness of the medical cannabis inhalers? Is the goal short-term pain relief or long-term pain relief?

I would say it is more short-term pain relief. With inhalation, there is rapid onset which comes into effect within one or two minutes. This method of delivering medical cannabis can give patients immediate relief from issues such as acute pain and migraines and at the same time it helps the individual to dose correctly.

To find the correct dose with the inhaler we recommend that patients inhale in small doses and build up their tolerance depending upon how strongly they feel their body reacts to it and how effective the dosage is in treating their condition.

How do you feel your method of drug delivery (through inhalers) compares to other forms of how cannabis is delivered medically?

Vaporisation is the only validated form of administering cannabinoids. If you look at the procedure in Germany for example, cannabis can be currently prescribed as a dried flower to patients, which is essentially an unfinished product. For this method you must go to the pharmacy and purchase a box of dried flowers, which you can then cook with, make tea with, or which you can smoke etc.

However, the inhalation application is the best method to use THC by the patient. It is also more efficient, if you compare it to smoking, you can use the medical cannabis inhaler repeatedly until all the active ingredients are released. Therefore, making use of this application form is far more efficient in terms of gaining the most from the ingredients, moreover the effect of the consumption is very fast.

Are medical cannabis inhalers the best way to deal with the pain relief issue and how does that compare to the current pain relief that is available?

Although this question is best answered by a physician, the pain relief based on client feedback that we have received, is that the method of using medical cannabis inhalers has been working very well and has had very little side effects.

The inhalers have been incredibly effective with pains such as neuropathic pains and have also been effectively used by patients who have had amputation pain i.e. phantom pain. For such patients, the medical cannabis inhaler has reportedly helped with their medication.

Jürgen Bickel
Managing Director
Storz & Bickel GmbH & Co. KG
https://www.vapormed.com

Please note, this article will appear in issue 10 of Health Europa Quarterly, which will be available to read in July 2019.

We speak to Jürgen Bickel, managing director at Storz & Bickel GmbH & Co. KG, who talks to us about the first and, to date, only medical cannabis inhaler on the market.

Cannabis Inhalers: Are They Effective?

Saturday December 21, 2019

F ollowing on the heels of more widespread cannabis legalization has come a multitude of ways to consume the versatile plant, like edibles, concentrates, dry herb vaporizers, and many more. One such innovation is the advent of the cannabis inhaler. Similar to inhalers used for asthma, they deliver a discrete and precise dose of cannabis compounds CBD or THC. Cannabis inhalers offer a combustion-less consumption experience that could be perceived as safer than other methods, like vape pens (especially given the recent vape cartridge crisis) and smoking joints, which comes with many unpleasant side effects, like the inhalation of smoke – known to contain hazardous chemicals like carbon dioxide and particulates. And don’t forget, every time you light up you’re inhaling some of the chemicals from your lighter, like butane. But are cannabis inhalers effective?

Information on Inhaled Cannabis and Marijuana Inhaler Features

CBD and THC dosed precisely in inhalers is believed to help those with lung conditions like asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Some studies have shown that THC delivered via inhaler can act as an effective bronchodilator that works as well as known asthma inhalers Albuterol or Ipratropium for one-to-two hours.

Bronchodilators are very important for the treatment of asthma, a serious and potentially dangerous lung disease that inflames and narrows lung airways, causing shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. Bronchodilators can relieve these symptoms by relaxing the muscle bands that tighten around the airways, and clear mucus from the lungs.

A New England Journal of Medicine study found as far back as 1973 that inhaled cannabis caused bronchodilation (though particulate matter from smoke can be a lung irritant), saying, “Marihuana smoke, unlike cigarette smoke, causes bronchodilation rather than broncho-constriction [narrowing of the air passages], and, unlike opiates, does not cause central respiratory depression [i.e. a decrease in breathing>.”

It is believed that cannabis activates the CB1 receptor, present in the peripheral and central nervous systems, and inhibits the contraction of airways.

It is also thought that the activation of the CB1 receptor reduces pain, hyperalgesia (heightened sensitivity to pain), rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic pain. Some medical patients prefer using cannabis inhalers because they are discrete, smokeless, virtually odorless, and won’t call any undue attention to your marijuana medicine of choice because cannabis inhalers closely resemble regular inhalers. One benefit of cannabis inhalers is that they are thought to have a higher bioavailability, which refers to the degree and rate that medicine is absorbed and its effects felt.

Cannabis Inhalers on the Market

Currently, two companies, Panaxia Pharmaceuticals, and Rafa Pharmaceuticals are working on cannabis inhaler clinical trials targeting cancer and asthma patients. They believe that cannabis inhalers will gain easier market acceptance because inhalers are already a familiar mode of administering medication. They are also betting that cannabis inhalers will help cannabis on the whole be more accepted by doctors, because inhalers can be precisely dosed.

Though cannabis inhalers have yet to make a big impact in cannabis markets, there are a couple of THC inhalers available at dispensaries in Colorado, including the AeroInhaler and the Santana Smooth (yes, that Santana, the inhaler is named after the song “Smooth,” the 1999 hit collaboration of Santana and Matchbox Twenty singer Rob Thomas). Designed to dose precise hits of THC and terpenes, these inhalers are not necessarily for those looking for a euphoric high due to their precise dose delivery. However, THC, despite its party-boy reputation, is thought to have many healing properties, like pain and inflammation reduction, appetite stimulation, and the reduction of nausea and vomiting.

Other inhalers on the market are the CBD-only Maven Hemp, the Vapen Clear, which offers THC, THC/CBD hybrids, as well as CBD hybrids, and the CBD Luxe. Right now, cannabis inhalers are not the cheapest option on the market, retailing from an average of $50-100 for 100 puffs. By contrast, even more expensive vape pens top out at $40-60.

So, is it worth it to pony up the extra cash for a cannabis inhaler? That depends. If you, as a consumer have been concerned by the illnesses and deaths related to vaping, finding a consumption method that feels safe is important. Or if you are a medical patient with asthma, COPD, or other lung illness, using an inhaler can provide quick and discrete access to medicine that won’t upset your lungs.

Have you tried cannabis or CBD inhalers? Share your experiences with other readers in the comments below.

Cannabis inhalers are a new way of marijuana consumption. Learn more about their effectiveness and information relating to the dosing of CBD and THC, as well as what's available on the market.