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Cannabis is a nearly 25 billion dollar industry in the U.S. alone. Even though the market is booming, there are still many illegal cases of cannabis distribution that remains unregulated and hard to track.
Recently, during a Centers for Disease Control conference call, it was revealed that tainted THC cartridges are suspected to have claimed one life in Illinois and has caused lung injuries to nearly 215 people in 25 states. California has now a total of 24 suspected cases of hyper-inflammatory lung response. These cases were first discovered when doctors diagnosed seven young adults who suffered sudden acute respiratory distress in the past month. Each of these cases involved the purchase of a non regulated illegal disposable THC cartridge. This is all the evidence that was needed to suspect there was trouble with some cannabis cartridges. What is important to note is that no cases were caused by products purchased by licensed manufacturers with GMP certifications, and were all from cartridges purchased from the illegal market.
These cartridges, when used repeatedly cause what is known as acute respiratory distress resembling lipoid pneumonia. Patient’s lungs become heavily inflamed and may even lose function, needing mechanical ventilation. This condition can cause permanent lung damage and most victims have needed prolonged hospital care.
What Causes It?
Standard vaporizer cartridges contain different additives. These range from propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, or medium chain triglycerides. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration already lists propylene glycol as a respiratory toxicant. Past lab tests have detected pollutants such as pesticides, residual solvents, heavy metals and synthetic cannabinoids in illegal cannabis cartridges.
Industry insiders report that a new additive started showing up in cartridges in late 2018. They say these could have had a negative effect on the lung health of these patients. These additives known as diluents or cutting agents are being widely used amongst sellers of the underground market and is used as a thickening agent, and is used to stretch out quantities of CBD in individual cartridges for better profit.
Unlike legal state-licenced cannabis sellers, illegal markets are highly unregulated. Any chemicals added to illegal cannabis cartridges could be anything under the sun and could be harmful to your health.
How To Avoid It
Many CBD companies do not use thickening agents at all in their cartridges. These companies are informed about the dangers of thickening agents in vaporizers and the damage it can do to your lungs.
It can be difficult to tell which vape pens are illegal, and which aren’t. Because many cartridges are made illegally, through “pen factories.” Thousands of illegal cartridges are filled per day at these factories with street-grade THC. They are packaged up with professional looking labels and are shipped to illegal pop-up markets.
These labels could even claim the product is “lab-tested.” And most of the suspected products have caused these harmful reactions are labelled as such without lab test results to back it up.
Which Companies Sell Verified CBD Vape Juice or Oil?
A company like Vida makes their CBD oil free of additives such as thickening agents and rigorously test their products using third party laboratories. This ensures a top quality product, one that is pure and potent and won’t cause harmful effects. Vida is even partnered with the FDA in order to establish better hemp standard operating procedures. The formulation of a CBD oil or vape oil should be simple and not be over-run by chemical additives and diluents.
It’s important to double check the label of your vape juice product. Does it have lab tests posted? Does it contain propylene glycol or another thickening agent? If you suspect that your vape juice is in any way “faulty” or from illegal sources, it’s better to be safe than sorry and not inhale this juice. If in doubt, look up the company’s website for lab test results or buy only from verified state-licenced stores or online stores.