If you vape cannabis, you’ve probably heard of the US vaping crisis that has left thousands of people with acute respiratory distress syndrome and killed as many as 52 people. Vaping-associated pulmonary injury (VAPI), is a lung disease that is associated with vaping and may present with pneumonia-like symptoms upon onset.

The first cases were reported as early as April 2019 but it took the CDC until October to announce warnings of a severe outbreak linked to cannabis vaping. Regulators have since gotten involved and there’s been talk of banning cannabis and e-cig vaping in many states. 

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Vaping Crisis Facts

Below are facts you need to know about the cannabis vape crisis and VAPI associated:

  • If you are purchasing and vaping with cartridges from the illicit market, STOP and dispose of them immediately. It is believed that illegal vape market cartridges are to blame. 

  • Vitamin E acetate (aka tocopheryl-acetate), an ingredient found in canola, soy, and corn oil is thought to be the culprit. 
  • Vitamin E acetate started to show up in the illicit cart market in 2018. It allows for THC oils to be diluted without thinning the oils. Some indications have shown that it may be present in as much as 60% of the illicit carts being sold.
  • Unsafe additives may also include pesticides, heavy metals, mold, mildew, synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic flavorings, and newer additives not yet discovered within lab testing.
  • A synthetic vitamin E (tocopheryl-acetate) has also been linked to illicit vape carts, which is used as an oil thickener.
  • In other studies, it is shown that as many as 50% of tested vape carts contain the thickener tocopheryl-acetate.
  • Illicit market “brands” to watch out for are, but not limited to, Dank Vapes, TKO, Off White, Moon Rocks, Chronic Carts, and West Coast Carts.
  • Cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, are not to blame for the crisis.
  • If you have been using an illicit vape and exhibit symptoms of pneumonia, dizziness, tiredness, general fatigue, are unable to breathe, see a physician immediately.

 How to Protect Yourself

To protect yourself, only purchase vape cartridges from licensed retailers within your state as the sourcing of your vaping oil, and the ingredients have an impact on your overall health. It’s important to note that while this crisis is real, some 27 million legal and regulated vape cartridges have been sold in California since 2018 without incident.

Regulated brands and licensed dispensaries must meet stringent guidelines to sell products to you legally. Illicit market brands, while often cheaper, are not held to any regulatory standard and do not consider your optimal health and wellness as their primary objective.