Marijuana vaporizers - get the dope without the smoke

The latest gadget on the medical marijuana scene is a high-tech contraption that lets people inhale the drug without the smoke.

The marijuana vaporizer heats the drug to the point where vapors are formed but before combustion, and advocates say the vapors are free of many of the toxins found in marijuana smoke.

One version which looks like a metallic volcano sells for more than $500, and according to its creator is "the Mercedes-Benz of vaporizers."

Kathy Gagne, a 56-year-old Oakland resident who began vaporizing marijuana five years ago to treat her depression, says the vaporizer removes the harshness you get from the smoke, and there is no cough or shortness of breath the following morning.

According to a new study the San Francisco bay area is apparently the hub of the vaporization movement.

The University of California, San Francisco study on the technology's effectiveness to Alameda County officials' has plans to allow the devices in new marijuana dispensaries.

This has prompted more than a dozen manufacturers to appear to manufacture the devices.

But as yet federal officials are unsure about the vaporizers and what they deliver.

Jennifer Devallance, spokeswoman for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, says that until an application is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, marijuana will continue to be classified as a Schedule I (illegal) drug.

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