Vaping panic is taking the internet by storm, especially with President Donald Trump suggested that fruity E-cig flavors be banned in order to quell the problem. The question is, will that actually help? Statements and potential legislation is only adding to the vaping information noise. Vape illnesses are now climbing over 530 cases, NPR reports. Such fervor is causing many people to read headlines and come to over-simplified conclusions like “vaping makes people sick,” but that isn’t an accurate way of discussing the issue. What’s making people sick is a combination of unregulated markets allowing contaminated and fake cannabis and CBD to get into people’s hands. The vast majority of reports point to contaminated CBD and cannabis-based products as the leading culprit of these recent vape related illnesses, according to an AP investigation.
What’s Making People Sick?
Tested samples have pointed to two main contaminants; synthetic THC known as K2-Spice and a cutting agent called Vitamin E acetate. K2-Spice used to be more prevalent before states and the federal government increased regulations around 2015 regarding drugs like synthetic cannabinoids. They’re marketed as safe by their producers, but caused one teen to overdose in 2016 and made numerous others sick, even before the latest vaping related illnesses started popping up all over the country. Vitamin E acetate is a cutting agent used in all kinds of products from lotions to various food products. While the chemical has been tested by the FDA for topical and edible uses, it has not been approved as an inhalent which is where the problem lies.
What’s happening to people?
K2-Spice and Vitamin E acetate affect the body in different ways after they’re inhaled. Vitamin E acetate is essentially an oil, which is why it works well if when using it to cut cannabis and CBD oil. After the Vitamin E acetate is heated and inhaled into your lungs, it cools down and creates an effect like saran wrapping the inside of your lungs, Leafly reports. K2-Spice is a synthetic psychoactive chemical known to cause all kinds of negative side effects. Adverse reactions like anxiety, seizures, and respiratory failure have been documented from its use. While many of the people recover from their symptoms, a small number of cases have resulted in permanent lung damage and death.
How To Avoid Contaminated Products and Keep Yourself Safe
Contaminated products are mainly coming from unregulated CBD and cannabis markets. Last year’s farm bill essentially legalized hemp and CBD for commercial use. Regulations and enforcement agencies are trying to catch up with the snake oil salesmen conning money from people looking for medicine, making hundreds of people sick in the process. Contaminated products can come from gas stations, convenience stores, really any place that sells CBD. Un-licensed cannabis dispensaries masquerading as legal operations is another variable buyers need to be aware of. This problem is seen in places like California and Michigan.
This is why you need to throughly research the products and brands you buy from.
Only buy CBD and cannabis products from regulated markets. If you live in a place with legal cannabis markets, the chances of contaminated products reaching shelves are much lower, but it’s not impossible by any stretch of the imagination.
Even if a knowledgable budtender tells you its safe, better to research the brand yourself just to make sure. At the end of the day, safe products exist, you just have to arm yourself with enough information to find reputable producers whose products are what they say they are and do what they say they do. Only the most transparent brands are worth your time. Some key factors to consider when shopping for CBD brands: look for brands that are up-front with their CBD sources, oil processing methodology, where they buy their vape cartridges from and the kind of materials they’re made from, where their products are tested and if they’re third-party certified.