In this past month, the vaping community has been badgered from all angles regarding this so-called epidemic. As you may have heard, hundreds of cases involving vapers being admitted to the E.R. with chronic lung complications have been reported. These stories have been making the rounds and creating waves so significant that the White House wants to ban all flavored e-cigarette products. It’s not uncommon for us to complain and weep about the media’s disregard of truth when it comes to pumping headlines, but in this case, we have reason.
Since the initial report of severe lung disease hit the Midwest, it alluded that an illicit product was consumed by the patient. Notably, a THC oil purchased from an unlicensed vendor. Now hundreds of cases have sprouted, and the media’s salivating journalists are slamming their grubby paws on their typewriters producing article after article blaming our beloved industry for this misbehavior. Why is this so terrible, you ask? Well, many of us have used vaping as a smoking cessation tool with success.
Other nicotine replacement therapy equivalents approved by the FDA aren’t as effective sometimes. I say that as someone who tossed every method against the wall to see if anything stuck, but nothing did. On September 6th, The Washington Post broke the news of the culprit behind the chaos: Vitamin E. When the FDA investigated the products consumed, they discovered the oil in the cannabis products the patients had ingested. The exact same vitamin was found in the cannabis samples from those who fell sick in other states as well.
The chemical alone is not harmful, but when it is consumed by inhalation, it can be lethal. The chemical compound alludes to its toxicity if ingested in aerosol form. Health officials believe the “oil-like” properties can potentially create respiratory complications — much like those reported by the patients. As of the date of the publication, there have been 380 cases across 36 states, with many other cases under ongoing investigation. The root cause isn’t completely understood. But as health officials attempt to reverse-engineer the problem, they’ve discovered the only similarity in each case across the 36 states.
Begs the question, though, who is providing these products? For those who oppose the freedom to vape, this is a prime moment to take a stab at it without compunction. They churn out headlines and articles demonizing the industry as a whole. You can’t walk down the street with a vape in your hand without having someone preach the anti-vaping fearmongering gospel that has been glooping around the internet lately.
The takeaway from all this should be to always purchase from reputable websites that indicate the packaging’s contents in clear detail – nicotine strength, propylene glycol, and vegetable glycerin percentages, flavorings, etc. The vape juice contents should always be questioned, even when purchasing from licensed sellers. Be wary of purchasing vaping products from eBay, OfferUp, Craigslist, and similar websites. Not only because they are not licensed sellers, but because most of them are creating the product themselves.
They purchase empty cartridges from websites like Alibaba and fill each of these with homemade liquids and oils. To cut costs, they “water” down the product with additives that could be potentially fatal, whether they know about it or not. It’s important to be equipped with the right information and understand what constitutes an e-liquid and why you shouldn’t ingest mysterious additives. The rising Cannabis market leads to higher CBD and THC oil sales. Thus, this new black market.
On the bright side, an illegal THC operation was recently brought to justice. Two brothers ran a $1.5 million operation selling the counterfeit product. Interestingly enough, they also discovered firearms, ammunition, cocaine, Xanax, and other illegal items on the premises. They also found empty cartridges, which involved a process of ten people coming in, refilling each with the homemade oil and shipping them out. The case is ongoing, and nobody has been charged yet, but this could be linked to the recent so-called epidemic.