Marijuana Oil Cartridges for Vaporizer Pens Analyzed

By Marie Veksler | January 02, 2015

Personal marijuana vaporizers, often called vape pens, have gained popularity in recent years since many are now designed to fit in the palm of the human hand. Vaping has spread wildly throughout the world so much that the word “vape” was recently added to the Oxford English Dictionary, and was also named as their word of the year in 2014.

vape pens

These portable, hand-held vaporizers are designed to heat the cannabis product to a temperature just below that of combustion, thereby producing vapor to be inhaled instead of smoke. Many medical marijuana patients, who are unable to smoke, rely on different methods of delivery like vaporizing. The use of personal vaporizers has also increased in the recreational market because they provide a much less obvious way to use cannabis in public, and are also an easier tool with which to travel. If you do travel with your vaporizer, keep it out of sight and protected instead of loose in your pockets or purse. We recommend the slim and smell proof Safety Case by Black Rock Originals. They’ve created the ultimate weed travel kit by incorporating Pebble containers that are perfect for concentrates or flower on the go.


There are many different types of vape pens. Some are made to be used with cannabis flowers, some with hash or wax, and some are made to be used with oil cartridges. The vape pens used with dried marijuana flowers and concentrates like hash require a person to load the cannabis product into the corresponding vape pen chamber. This means that the person using the pen knows exactly what it being loaded into it.

The vape pens designed to be used with oil cartridges are a little bit trickier because the cartridges are most often purchased pre-filled with the marijuana concentrate liquid.

vape pen cartridges

With the recent discovery that many medical marijuana products in California were improperly labeled with incorrect lab test results, the good people at O’SHaughnessy’s decided to investigate some of the most widely purchased marijuana oil cartridges on the market. They used lab test results from SC Labs in Santa Cruz, CA to provide an analyzed, side-by-side comparison of 19 different oil cartridges.

The graph below shows the lab test results for the THC content in each of the 19 oil cartridges. They are ranked in order of THC content with the highest tested product at the top. The calculations were provided by O’Shaughnessy’s:

thc content oil cartridgeThe cartridges that tested highest for THC content were Pure Cure (71%) and Absolute Xtracts (70%). Some marijuana oil cartridges from the line created by Absolute Xtracts are even strain specific. None of the other oil cartridge brands tested in this sample named which strain of cannabis was used to make the oil.

Just as the THC content in each cannabis oil cartridge is different, so are the mixing agnents used. Some are cut with additives like propylene glycol, and some are not. The Pure Cure and Absolute Xtracts brand cartidges test results show that these products do not contain any type of additive. The rest of the cartridges tested in this sample did test as having been cut with some type of additive.

The graph below uses the lab tested percent of THC and the amount of liquid in each cartridge to determine how many milligrams of THC are in each cartridge. This information can be used to calculate the average price per milligram of THC, depending on how much the cartridge costs at each retailer. The calculations were provide by O’Shaughnessy’s, and the “size” is measured in milligrams:

marijuana oil cartridge potencyTo determine your cost per milligram of THC, divide the price you pay for the cartridge by the milligram of THC (provided in the right column of the graph above).

Price paid for oil cartridge ÷ MG of THC

Based on O’Shaughnessy’s calculations, Absolute Extracts, Pure Cure, and Eureka oil cartridges provide users the best value of the 19 cartridges that were analyzed in this particular sample.

This is a great reminder that it is important for all users, both medicinal and recreational, to know what they are consuming. Much of the legal marijuana industry still operates and is regulated in a legal-gray-area, and will continue to do so until cannabis is legalized on the federal level.


photo credit: World Truth, YTIMGBoulder Green Room

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Marie Veksler

With more than 15 years of cannabis education and experience, Marie is dedicated to sharing knowledge about the versatile plant while expanding the stoner stereotype. Email tips to

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