Throughout the United States, news outlets have been focused on the deaths and illnesses associated with THC vaping. Many news outlets
have been having quite the field day with these recent Vaping Deaths only mentioning the main cause near the end of the articles - as a matter of fact, many state governments have started to push for a ban on all flavoured e-cigarettes shortly after this news broke. However, most of the accusations aimed at nicotine-based e-cigarettes have little to no basis in fact. The cause surrounding these tragedies is rooted in black market THC cartridge pens, rather than the traditional e-cigarettes that they are being associated with. It should be equally important to know, that as of this moment, there have been no reported cases in the UK.
What is THC Oil?
With recreational and medical marijuana usage being legalized or otherwise destigamatized across the US, THC (the psychoactive compound found in marijuana that produces the high) is becoming a new fad product for treating ailments of all kinds - from anxiety to pain associated with cancer. With that, new ways to consume the THC are becoming more and more prevalent in the United States. One of these is through using what is called a "cartridge pen." While these look and function similarly to e-cigarettes, they do not have a refillable tank like a nicotine-based vape will. Instead, they use a replaceable cartridge filled with concentrated THC oil. It is a relatively new phenomenon in the US, with most of its users fitting into the eighteen to thirty age range. With it becoming more popular, many individuals are seeing this as an opportunity to make a profit. It is not difficult to go on the Internet and find many guides to making the THC concentrate and put it into the cartridges for later sale.
Black Market THC Oil
It does not matter whether marijuana has been legalised in some states in the USA - the black market for THC still exists. This market is filled with either knock-off products produced overseas (mostly in countries like China and Afghanistan, where marijuana is a common cash crop), or from people who have found enough walkthroughs and guides to believe they can process it themselves. As can be expected, this lends itself to numerous issues. Commercially produced THC cartridges must go through rigorous quality control and lab testing procedures to check for purity and the quality of the product being sold. The knock-off and home-brew products are not subjected to these same rigours. Additionally, making these products look like a commercially produced product is not difficult. All it takes is a good label printer and shrink wrap to fool the average user into believing that what they bought is a product they could also buy off a dispensary shelf. These knock-offs, however, are often contaminated or otherwise not pure. There can be contamination from a number of sources, including the piping set up to process the THC into an oil, the solvents used to break the marijuana down to make it easier to process, or even additives introduced to make the THC oil look to be a higher quality than it is. Most users will judge the quality of the oil based on its thickness, so the thicker the oil appears, the higher THC content the average user will assume it is. Ryan Hall from www.rkhtv.com does a good explanation on the recent Vaping problems.
Why Oil is Bad For Your Lungs
As mentioned numerous times before, the recent string of deaths associated with vaping were caused by black market THC cartridges. But what made them lethal? Why is this the first we are hearing about it? The additive found in the cartridges in all of these cases is a synthetic vitamin E oil called Vitamin E acetate. Vitamin E acetate is added to black market THC cartridges in an attempt to make the oil inside look thicker and, therefore, higher quality to the buyer. Vitamin E acetate vaporizes just like many other vaping additives do. However, Vitamin E acetate also has a nasty effect after being aerosolised. When it cools back to its liquid temperature, it returns to an oil state - and it does this inside the lungs of those who inhale it.
A Warning To Those Who DIY their E liquid
Many of you who dabble or exclusively DIY your e liquid should already know, or should be made aware that mixing anything that isn't water soluble is likely going to cause serious harm to your lungs. Many flavourings available on the market are suspended in an oil base. This is perfectly fine for ingesting, but should never be used for vaping. Oil extract will not be absorbed by your lungs and will slowly coat in a layer of oil causing a case of lipid phenomena
. Always make sure the flavourings you use in your e liquid are PG, VG or alcohol based.
Public Warning Measures
So, the CDC has been pushing warnings about e-cigarettes and their dangers. While it is true that using an e-cigarette is more harmful than not smoking at all, it has been proven time and time again that e-cigarettes are less harmful than a traditional cigarette. It is important to focus not on the whole industry, but to dig down to what the root cause of the issue is. I believe that it is more important in this case to focus not on the industry as a whole, but to make sure that people know what to look for. Cracking down on a product and prohibiting its usage entirely will not fix anything; I would like to point to the Eighteenth Constitutional Amendment to prove this. This was the Constitutional Amendment that introduced the Prohibition era, which did nothing to cut down on alcohol sales across the US. Instead, it drove the buyers to the more illicit markets where quality control was limited at best and downright nonexistent more often than not.
What To Look For
As a buyer, there are certain thing you want to look for when purchasing THC cartridges. For one, find ingredients lists if you can. Research any additives and their known health effects. These may not always be readily available, but this is one of the easiest ways to find out what exactly went into manufacturing the product you are choosing. Also, any product that has been lab-tested will have the results readily available. Always look for third-party lab certifications for purity and quality. If you can not confirm the product's purity, it is best to just avoid it as a whole. If the lab that tested the product is connected to the manufacturer in any way, dig deep and find more information. Find out if the lab is conducting accurate tests or being paid for results. As with anything else, research and information will be your best friend. Gather every scrap of data you can when choosing your products; this will keep you safer in the long run.