Legal marijuana retailers in the U.S. have made some changes due to the vaping crisis. According to NPR, the report of vaping illnesses continues to mount, with the CDC still desperately trying to find a cause.

Meanwhile, some states responded by cracking down on vaping, imposing emergency restrictions in hopes that doctors can eventually find some answers.

But while vaping advocates have been rather critical of the government’s “heavy-handed” approach, legal cannabis retailers tend to agree that there needs to be more oversight when it comes to THC products.


Being Proactive


Legal states have regulations in place to test cannabis and cannabis products for safety. However, none of them test for other ingredients, which makes it easy for substandard THC vape products to end up on store shelves.

To their credit, none of the open market products tested by the CDC contained vitamin E acetate, which remains the prime suspect in what now amounts to over 1,600 cases of lung damage.

Still, the regulatory gap raised concerns, prompting many shops to contact their suppliers and verify the ingredients in the vape cartridges. Although retailers are taking action, they feel that more focus needs to be put on the black market.

Kevin Heiderich is the co-owner of House of Cannabis, located in Tacoma, Washington. He is one of many owners who believes the industry needs more oversight. NPR explains:


“Heidreich supports more rigorous testing so the regulated market is perceived as safer. This summer, his shops began contacting all their suppliers to verify what’s in their products.”


He is concerned about “bad actors” pushing dangerous products into the market, be it through legal or illegal means. He and others in the industry want to keep their products clean and safe, both for public health and their bottom lines.

Heidrich adds:


“Hopefully, that is the exception to the rule, and any regulation that does come down puts an end to those sort of business practices. We don’t need those people in the market.”


The Need for Self-Regulation


Naturally, consumers have changed their buying habits when it comes to THC vapes. The recent illnesses bred a certain mistrust for a product that was rapidly growing in popularity.

But if Heidrich is any indication, businesses cannot wait for state governments extend their testing requirements for vape products. The onus is therefore on store owners to ensure that everything they receive is clean and safe.

However, this kind of initiative is not unheard of. In fact, the nicotine vape industry grew for years in the U.S. before the FDA regulated e-liquids in 2016. Prior to that, e-juice manufacturers relied on their reputation for success. As a result, they worked hard to provide high-quality liquids.

The e-cigarette industry had its own brief scare surrounding an ingredient called diacetyl, which health officials at the time (incorrectly) associated with lipoid pneumonia or “popcorn lung.” In response, manufacturers took it upon themselves to reduce diacetyl in their products or remove it entirely.

Ultimately, retailers need to take a strong initiative if they want to maintain public confidence and – hopefully – stem this growing epidemic.


WeedAdvisor’s Interest in Public Safety


During a time when information is sorely lacking, educating the public as much as possible is a critical step in preventing harm. This is why WeedAdvisor has been keeping track on the vaping epidemic’s developments.

We will continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds and provide some answers as they become available.



With 33 deaths and almost 1,500 vaping-related illnesses, public concern about THC vaping has increased. But according to Vox, most people did not react the way some ban-happy governments did.

These incidents have boosted popular support to legalize and regulate marijuana. This is perfectly understandable, given that the prime suspect behind the epidemic – vitamin E acetate – was found in most illegal vape samples, but not legal ones.

Unfortunately, marijuana’s status as a federally illegal drug limits regulation, placing it squarely on states who have legalized it. But surprisingly, even legal states are not as stringent as many of us think. Thankfully, they at least have the integrity not to cut vape products with chemicals like vitamin E acetate.

Handing control over to the FDA or other federal regulatory bodies will make THC vapes – and all marijuana products – much safer.


State Regulations Not Enough


Although marijuana is fully legal in several states, their regulatory frameworks are rather lax compared to what the federal government can provide.

David Hammond, a researcher in Ontario’s University of Waterloo, points out that vaping used to involve dry herb, but is now losing its market to THC oil vapes. When vaping dry herb, the device simply heats the cannabinoids and terpenes beyond their boiling points to evaporate them.  THC vapes, Hammond explains, involve a whole different set of ingredients.

 According to Vox:


“…health regulators haven’t kept up with this new reality, Hammond and other experts told Vox, even in states where marijuana is legal. That’s why experts increasingly view the outbreak as evidence in the case for decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level. States haven’t been able to protect the public from dangerous vape products, and so it may be time for agencies experienced in regulating consumer products, like food and drugs, to take over, they say.”


Former head of the FDA, Scott Gottleib, echoed this sentiment in the Wall Street Journal:


“Federal agencies exert little oversight, and regulation is left to a patchwork of inadequate state agencies. The weak state bodies sanction the adoption of unsafe practices such as vaping concentrates while allowing an illegal market in cannabis to flourish.”


State Oversight vs. Federal Oversight


To give an idea as to how short states fall in terms of oversight, let us take a look at Washington and California.

In both states, cannabis producers must follow certain manufacturing practices and perform tests for contaminants like pesticides, heavy metals, fungi, and microbes. However, no legal state so far requires producers to provide their safety information. They also do not conduct random inspections to verify the validity of a company’s claims about their products.

Compare this to the federal oversight in Canada, where Health Canada thoroughly monitors the industry and mercilessly cracks down on anyone who breaks the rules.

But perhaps most disturbing of all:


“Their list of tests also doesn’t include checking for chemicals, such as vitamin E acetate, that are emerging as a health threat. ‘Until only recently with the outbreak of the vapor associated lung injury crisis, no one suspected additional safety tests should be considered,’ the Washington spokesperson said.”


On the other hand, the FDA already has a lot of experience handling the regulation of food and drugs. They can easily apply their existing framework to cannabis:


“…federal officials at agencies like the FDA should pursue what they already know works in consumer protection for other products: premarket regulation, inspection, and spot-checking to make sure people follow the rules.”

WeedAdvisor’s Support for Cannabis Regulation


Although many people cringe at the word “regulation,” it is still the only way to ensure public safety. To some, this is a bitter pill to swallow, but there is simply no other option.

Admittedly, we have been critical of regulation in the past when implemented excessively, but the current health crisis in the U.S. shows that even overregulation is preferable to the illnesses and deaths we see now.

To that end, WeedAdvisor’s business solutions include easy ways to ensure regulatory compliance and accurate reporting to applicable government bodies. Hopefully, nationwide legalization will allow us to soon work with clients across the U.S. to ensure consumer safety.



When it comes America’s “vaping crisis,” not every state is turning to the nuclear option, according to The Durango Herald.

New Mexico – who has so far seen 15 cases of alleged vaping illness – has as much justification to ban e-cigarettes the way New York, Michigan and Massachusetts did to varying degrees. But they have not, and it is commendable.

Fear has an interesting effect, as it prompts the public to happily follow extreme measures without critically examining them first. Vapers are obviously the most vocal critics, but everyone should look at New Mexico’s approach and see that, while not as cutthroat, it will eventually be the best long-term solution.


Sensible Approach


When we examine the decision in terms of consistency, New Mexico’s strategy is in line with the way Federal Law treats tobacco. The Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act requires tobacco manufacturers to place health warnings on their packages.

The knee-jerk reaction in other states may restrict the presence of e-cigarette products on the open market, but it fails to educate the public or make them rethink their health choices.

Frankly, it is difficult to determine whether New Mexico’s passive approach will be effective. However, at least it will not create a black market, nor does it reek of the hypocrisy displayed by states who ban nicotine vapes but happily continue selling tobacco.


Correct Focus


Unlike other states, who ignored the CDC’s emphasis on THC vapes and went after nicotine devices instead, New Mexico’s warning labels focus on the former.

All of the recent findings around vaping have to do with ingredients in black market cannabis devices, with health officials first zeroing in on a cutting agent called vitamin E acetate. However, more recent tests put hydrogen cyanide – the by-product of a banned fungicide when heated – on the list of suspects.

Either way, nicotine vapes were never under the microscope, yet they received the most blame and restriction.

New Mexico’s law is simple:


“The labeling order requires all medical marijuana producers and manufacturers to label their vaping products containing THC with this statement: ‘WARNING: Vaping cannabis-derived products containing THC has been associated with cases of severe lung injury, leading to difficulty breathing, hospitalization and even death.’”


However, New Mexico’s Secretary of State Katherine Kunkel is not letting nicotine vapes off the hook completely. But rather than making a definitive claim of vaping being dangerous, she conveys what researchers have been saying for years:

“Vaping lung-related injuries is uncharted territory in public health, and it is important that residents know the health risks if they make the choice to continue using any vaping products.”


We cannot dismiss the possibility that all vaping is harmful, but the data simply does not exist to justify extreme measures, such as full-blown bans.


WeedAdvisor’s Support for Education Over Action


Different situations require different responses. But when it comes to the vaping crisis, we feel that the public is better off being well-informed rather than well-controlled.

Given the impact that this situation has on the cannabis industry and its non-cannabis counterpart, we will continue to follow the situation as it unfolds. In doing so, our aim is to provide accurate information to help consumers understand the benefits and drawbacks of vaping.



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The recent string of vaping illnesses reported in the United States led to a knee-jerk reaction by legislators to either ban or restrict all vaping products. Now, an entire industry is teetering on the verge of destruction.

But this is hardly surprising. Banning or maintaining the illegality of something perceived as dangerous is usually the default when it comes to public health and safety (with some exceptions). In light of the lessons we learned from the failed War on Drugs, it is hard to believe that lawmakers are so keen to resort to this course of action.

According to Forbes, prohibition is not the solution – in fact, it is just the opposite.


Legalization the “Most Responsible Solution”


Reactions to the vaping problem have been mixed. Some leaders, such as President Trump, want to ban all flavoured vape juices – something completely unrelated to the issue at hand.

Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker banned all vape products for four months after declaring a “public health emergency” – ironically forgetting about the over 400,000 people per year who die from tobacco use in the U.S.

Forbes is quick to point out that this will not solve anything:


“While these actions may be well meaning, they are likely to only exacerbate the problem. If policy makers truly want to reduce or eliminate vaping-related illnesses, the most responsible solution would be to fully legalize marijuana nationwide, and ensure robust regulation, oversight, and education for users of both cannabis and nicotine vape products.”


Smoking rates are an excellent example of harm reduction due to education and oversight. Tobacco use is at an all-time historical low thanks to tight restrictions and massive public awareness campaigns. Had the government responded to the truth about tobacco by suddenly banning the product, it would have led to a massive economic loss and booming black market.

The problem is the same thing is going to happen with vapes, be they for marijuana or nicotine.


Some States Stand by THC Vape Industry


Not all states are so quick to react. For instance, Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Health made a statement vouching for the safety of their legal vape products and discouraged individuals from purchasing illegal ones.

California went one step further:


“Instead of ordering an outright ban, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he would seek to expand warning labels on vaping products, start a $20 million public awareness campaign about the dangers of vaping, and increase enforcement against counterfeit products.”


This approach will not have the instant, short-term effect against vaping that President Trump or Governor Baker wanted, but long-term success – if past drug/smoking campaigns are any indication – is highly likely.


Collateral Damage


Perhaps the most ironic development in this whole situation is the response to greatly restrict nicotine vapes. Anti-vaping groups and lawmakers alike associate the practice with smoking, rather than tobacco harm reduction.

Yet in their supposed interest in protecting public health, these legislators are opening up something much worse. Forbes explains:


“Without access to legal and regulated vape cartridges [and bottled e-liquids] they [vapers] will face two options: obtain illicit-market nicotine vape cartridges produced in an unregulated facility and with no way of knowing what additives and cutting agents may be present in the cartridge, or go back to smoking cigarettes. It’s true that we don’t fully understand the long-term health effects of vaping. But we certainly understand the long-term effects of cigarette smoking, and it is one of the most destructive things a person can do for their long-term health. Driving people back to cigarettes is guaranteed to cause catastrophic public health problems.”


Unfortunately, those responsible for driving these anti-vaping campaigns will not see the damage until it is too late.


WeedAdvisor’s Strong Support for a Regulated Industry


The legalization effort has plenty of valid supporting arguments, but this recent vape crisis makes for a strong – and urgent – case.

Although things look less than favourable at the moment, we strongly believe that regulators will eventually come to their senses once the initial wave of panic subsides. When this happens, WeedAdvisor looks forward to working with manufacturers and dispensaries to offer our own business solutions.

With our help, companies will have an easy time keeping track of inventory, maintaining compliance and catching accidental infractions that could harm consumers and result in large fines.






The stories about vaping injuries have been a source of mass panic in recent months, leading to the imminent destruction of a legal industry. Meanwhile, the real culprits – black market cannabis vapes – saw no immediate action.

As authorities investigated, they zeroed in on vitamin E acetate, a cutting agent found in many of the illegal market vapes. More recently, however, a fungicide was discovered, which becomes hydrogen cyanide (a deadly gas) when heated, this time in 100% of the tested samples.

While we covered both of these stories extensively, one thing that deserves more attention is that, universally, legal products did not contain any of the above toxins – or any toxins, for that matter.

Naturally, regulation keeps products safe. This is why, according to Marijuana Moment, over 800 companies associated with the marijuana industry wrote a letter to Congress, pleading with them to legalize and regulate cannabis.


Need “Robust Federal Regulations”


The letter, dated October 3rd 2019, addressed both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) led the initiative, along with its over 800 supporters.

Marijuana Moment explains:


“…the letter being delivered to House and Senate leadership on Thursday argues that the recent spate of vaping-related lung injuries and deaths demonstrates the need for robust federal regulations that aren’t available because marijuana remains a federally controlled substance. It notes that a majority of these medical issues appear to be the result of using adulterated, unregulated products.”


This is something that both health officials and the public knew for quite some time, but the issue was derailed, with government focus shifting to nicotine products and youth vaping.

The letter goes on to argue that:


“Fortunately, we have policy tools that can be employed to help limit the illicit market, implement uniform good manufacturing practices and prevent future harms.”


However, the U.S. is not at a point where they are willing to legalize marijuana for this, especially since they have regular vaping as a scapegoat. But this does not make the argument any less valid.


Educating Congress


Despite their duty to make decisions based on what is objectively best for their constituents, lawmakers often push legislation based on personal bias or beliefs, with little to no research.

The letter hopes to address this issue and at least enlighten those who are willing to listen.

Aaron Smith, executive director of NCIA, tells Marijuana Moment:


“It is absolutely vital for members of Congress to understand that this vaping illness outbreak is directly tied to failed prohibition policies that support the unregulated underground market. Descheduling cannabis products and regulating them effectively is essential to improving on successful state regulatory systems, allowing more comprehensive research, and displacing the illicit market.”


Smith supports his argument by drawing a comparison to alcohol, which he points out has not been responsible for health issues due to tainted products. This, he says, is because the industry is heavily regulated and free of underground producers.


Five Recommendations


The letter includes five policy reform suggestions to address the vaping crisis.

First, Congress needs to deschedule marijuana out of the Controlled Substances Act and give medical researchers the funding to investigate vaping illnesses.

Second, legal vape producers should stop using thickening agents (if any) until medical professionals know more about their impact.

Third, they suggest putting out a message to licensed producers using vitamin E acetate, inviting them to “issue a voluntary recall of these products.”

Fourth, licensed retailers should investigate their sources to ensure that vitamin E acetate and other additives are not present.

inally, advise consumers to stop purchasing illegal vape products and instead move toward the legal market.


WeedAdvisor’s Commitment to Education


The legalization effort has plenty of valid supporting arguments, but this recent vape crisis makes for a strong – and urgent – case.

Although the government is unlikely to be swayed by the letter, it might just plant the seed for broader reform.

Another benefit is that consumers may harm the illicit market by voluntarily avoiding illegal vape products.

Regardless, this issue is a major concern for public safety. Aside from offering critical business solutions, WeedAdvisor makes a strong effort to provide relevant, accurate information to keep the legal cannabis industry successful and – more importantly – safe.




The string of vaping-related illnesses and deaths have caused a whirlwind of public hysteria and blind reactions from lawmakers.

Initially, the CDC targeted vitamin E acetate, an oily substance used to dilute black market THC devices. Although it was found in the vast majority of samples collected, not everyone sickened used products containing the acetate.

But according to NBC News, a new potential culprit emerged – one with a much more consistent presence.


Hydrogen Cyanide


According to the most recent findings, a fungicide called myclobutanil might be the missing link. The CannaSafe testing company looked at 10 different black market marijuana vapes. The results were the most compelling so far:


“CannaSafe also tested 10 of the unregulated cartridges for pesticides. All 10 tested positive. The products all contained myclobutanil, a fungicide that can transform into hydrogen cyanide when burned.”


Hydrogen cyanide is highly toxic when inhaled. To put this into perspective, hydrogen cyanide is the generic chemical for Zyklon-B – the same pesticide used in the Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust.

While the amount inhaled in these vapes is not nearly high enough to be immediately fatal, gradual exposure. New York pulmonologist Dr. Melodi Pirzada flatly says that “it’s going to cause a very toxic effect on the lungs.” Pirzada also issues a similar warning about vitamin E acetate.


Bootlegged Products


Although the original e-cigarette was invented by a Chinese pharmacist almost 15 years ago, today, China is synonymous with cheap knockoffs and unregulated garbage in the vape niche.

It is not uncommon for Chinese companies to create fake versions of established devices, even going as far as to slap the brand name on the product. This practice also extends into components and chemicals for homemade liquids.

David Downs, California Bureau Chief of the prominent cannabis website Leafly, explains:


“This all starts in China where you can get the empty cartridges both for the THC market and the nicotine market, as well as the additives, flavorings, and thickeners that are being put into these cartridges alongside the THC oil. It’s a very deep, mature, and advanced industry that starts in China and ends in our own backyard.”


Currently, the FDA is trying to find the source of many black market marijuana vapes – a task that requires significant detective work.


Black Market vs. Legal Market


According to NBC News, legal vape products tested showed very different results than their illicit counterparts.

CannaSafe tested a total of 18 samples, three of which came from legal dispensaries:


“Of the three purchased from legal dispensaries in California, the CannaSafe testing company found no heavy metals, pesticides or residual solvents like Vitamin E.”


Meanwhile, 13 of the 15 illegal cartridges collected contained vitamin E acetate.


The Problem with Self-Reporting


One thing anti-vaping groups pointed out was that, while most of the illnesses were associated with marijuana vape devices, some individuals only reported using nicotine e-cigarettes.

But given the overwhelming way in which the scale tips against cannabis here, something does not make sense.

It is highly likely that those who reported only using nicotine were lying out of fear of repercussions, either from employers, authorities, family or friends.

Another possibility is that nicotine users made their own liquids, sourcing it from places like China and accidentally exposing themselves to dangerous ingredients. Keep in mind, there is no reason to do this. Individuals can buy food-grade vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol (the carrier liquids in e-juice) and pharmaceutical grade nicotine legally from domestic vendors.

What really makes things bad is that, if indeed these patients are omitting critical information, they essentially started a chain reaction of misdirected blame and slowed down health officials’ investigation.

However, this is purely speculative – albeit worth exploring.


WeedAdvisor’s Continued Support for the Open Market


If this information is not the final nail in the coffin against illegal grey market products, then frankly nothing is. Many people still do not see the difference between buying legal or illegal cannabis.

The current health crisis in the U.S. and chemical analyses of legal and black market products should be more than enough to convince the public to steer clear.

While this may make consumers wary of vapes, it is unlikely that their purchasing habits will change for other cannabis products – that is until another health crisis emerges.



Despite efforts from Health Canada and law enforcement, illegal dispensaries continue to operate in plain sight, often with the knowledge of law enforcement.

One such example is the Pikwakanagan First Nations’ reserve in Golden Lake. Located about 150 kilometres from Ottawa, this reserve is home to several illegal marijuana retailers.

As reports of vaping-related illnesses in the U.S. rise to over 800, the Centers for Disease Control believes these are most likely due to illegal cannabis vapes. The Ottawa Citizen decided to see if these products were available in the reserve.

Their results were mixed and often blocked by resistance from store owners who, understandably, would prefer to avoid having their illegal businesses put in the spotlight.


Majority of Dispensaries Still Selling Vapes


Despite warnings by health officials and evidence mounting against cannabis e-cigarette products, these items were still available in four of the six dispensaries the Ottawa Citizen visited. The reserve is home to a total of eight illegal stores.

But the stores selling these devices say that they have not noticed any problems so far. Staff at the Mashkiki Medicinals said:


“We haven’t had any issues or problems with the products we sell. Obviously if it’s going to be an issue we definitely wouldn’t sell (vape pens and cartridges).”


Grass Roots Healing sold cannabis vape pens for $50 each, which, according to its staff, is a good price.

They also have a “JUUL” branded marijuana cartridge – although these are in no way directly endorsed by or affiliated with the now infamous JUUL vape device. However, these cartridges are specifically designed to fit the JUUL vape, giving users the ability to seamlessly switch between cannabis and nicotine cartridges, if they so decide.

Those familiar with the device know that JUUL cartridges can only carry 0.7ml of liquid – enough for about 200 puffs. Despite their tiny volume, each of these “JUUL” branded THC products contains 700mg of THC – enough to seriously sicken a child or adult.


Exercising Caution


Not all of the dispensaries in question want to keep carrying cannabis vapes. According to the Ottawa Citizen:


“At The Healing Cabin, the proprietor said she had considered carrying vape pens, but decided against it after hearing about the lung illnesses. She couldn’t live with herself if one of her customers became ill, said the woman, who declined to give her full name. ‘We’re not supposed to be making people sick. We are supposed to be helping people.’”


But this self-policing is the closest thing they have to legal or health enforcement. In fact, Ontario Provincial Police know of these dispensaries, but are yet to do anything about it.

They said in a statement:


“The OPP will investigate illicit cannabis products including vape pen cannabis juice, but in terms of any enforcement on the Pikwakanagan First Nation, I would have to refer you to the Band Council or the (Cannabis) Business Alliance.”


Although we have been critical of government and law enforcement’s apparent inaction against the grey market, this situation is not entirely the police’s fault.

Because this takes place in First Nations territory, the OPP has to co-ordinate with several other groups.


Avoid Illegal Vape Products


Marijuana vape devices are still on track to be sold in Canada by December. Health officials in the U.S. encourage their citizens to only purchase legal products – advice that Canadians should also consider.

Unregulated illegal vape liquids could contain literally anything. Purchasing them not only puts the user at risk, but also keeps these unscrupulous manufacturers in business.


WeedAdvisor’s Role in Education


While we heavily specialize in providing business solutions for retailers, producers and government, WeedAdvisor also took on the task of informing the public about potential dangers with the industry we support.

The vape device situation we see now is arguably the worst crisis WeedAdvisor covered. But if there is a silver lining to this, it is that the public is a bit warier of the grey market as a whole.





Illinois’ successful move to legalize marijuana was a huge victory for advocates and the industry as a whole. But just as things were starting to gain traction, an all-too-familiar story about alleged vaping risks hit the media, resulting in a chain reaction that could affect the new cannabis market.

Now, Chicago Business reports that the recent vaping scare threatens legal marijuana sales, potentially crippling the system before it even takes off.

At the same, time, the illnesses and deaths in the U.S. pose an even greater risk to the legal vaping industry, thanks to skewed public perception and an inability to understand the facts.


Cannabis Under Threat


Given the many different consumption methods, many might think that one option having a bad reputation will not cause much harm. However, vaped THC products are highly popular.

According to Chicago Business:


“Vaping is the second most popular method of consuming legal marijuana—behind smoking—and it’s the fastest-growing part of the business…”


This is already showing signs of reversal, however. Ever since the FDA warmed users against THC vape products, sales in legal dispensaries began to decline. Some retailers confirmed with their suppliers that vitamin E acetate was not present in their products, but this did nothing to help.

At this point, concerned users may decide to smoke dried flower (which ironically releases its own slew of harmful chemicals during combustion) or explore other consumption methods.

As for Illinois, they have not stated any intention to ban THC vaping products. Instead, they formed their own health task force to investigate the matter and proceed from there.


A War on Two Fronts


Although many news outlets correctly reported the CDC’s suspicions surrounding vitamin E acetate – an ingredient not found in regular e-liquids – others either failed to do so, or the public simply failed to understand the message.

Consequently, the e-cigarette industry is bearing the brunt of society’s vaping backlash. Public misinformation is partly to blame, but we cannot ignore a more sinister player in this situation.

Anti-vaping groups and advocates have always wanted a way to drag e-cigarettes through the mud, with this being the ultimate chance. Rather than focus on what the CDC said in the past about vitamin E acetate, they shifted gears to focus on youth nicotine addiction from flavoured e-liquids.

It literally has nothing to do with vaping deaths, but the effects could be catastrophic to the vaping industry and consumers:


“…the wave of illnesses triggered a swift and far-reaching response from government agencies and elected officials, including U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois. But the outcry focuses mostly on vaping in general and concerns that it’s getting a new generation hooked on tobacco after smoking was finally declining. The White House says the FDA plans to ban flavored e-cigarette products.”


Head shops and other stores not specializing in vaping might see a dip in sales, but vape businesses stand to lose a lot if the FDA follows through with this ban. Making matters worse is that they are virtually powerless to stop it with legislators who mostly oppose vaping.


A Shield for the Cannabis Industry


What makes this situation particularly unfair is how marijuana’s legal status allows it to use the vaping industry as a shield. Because e-cigarettes are not federally illegal, the FDA can impose any regulations of bans it deems necessary.

Cannabis, however, dodges this entirely, leaving the livelihoods of vape shop owners and employees hanging by a thread. As a result, marijuana retailers might “lie low,” according to Chicago Business.

But some see this as an opportunity. Rather than sit by and let e-cigarettes take the blame, many advocates cite this as a reason why marijuana must be legalized and regulated.

If the illegal products using vitamin E acetate are to blame, the FDA could impose strict quality control measures to make THC vape products safer. Furthermore, it could help put consumers’ minds at ease:


“The cannabis industry sees the alarm over possible health risks of vaping as an opportunity to make the case for federal legalization and regulation of marijuana. Currently, marijuana use is being legislated state by state. Many weed companies believe federal oversight would give the public more confidence and keep out unlicensed competitors.”


WeedAdvisor’s Desire for a Safe, Legal Industry


One of the reasons we so strongly support legal marijuana is because of its strict quality and safety controls. The black market has always been a problem, but the recent vaping horror stories are the worst health scares the cannabis (and vaping) industry has faced to date.

As experts seek to unravel the true cause of these illnesses and deaths, we encourage consumers to stay away from illegal vape products and support their local dispensaries instead.





On September 6th, we published a story about the recent string of vaping illnesses being reported across the U.S.

Originally, health officials suspected vitamin E acetate – an oily vitamin E extract found exclusively in THC vape liquids and cartridges. However, while the majority of cases involved exposure to this ingredient, not every individual who contracted the mystery illness was exposed to this.

While experts scramble to find answers (and a treatment), the stories launched a flurry of finger-pointing, as laypeople share and comment on articles they never read and industry insiders defend themselves.

Marijuana Business Daily describes the current situation and the potential consequences – good and bad. However, sometimes we need to look outside the immediate situation to see if we are missing something.


A Look at the Technology


Although the first e-cigarette was invented by a Chinese pharmacist in 2004, the technology has evolved significantly.

One thing we need to clear up is that e-cigarettes do not produce vapour. There is no water in the formula. Instead, the liquids contain a mixture of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine (optional) and flavourings.

The vape itself consists of a battery, tank and atomizer. Sizes and designs vary, but the mechanism is universal. The atomizer requires a metal or ceramic coil fitted with a wick made of materials such as synthetic fibre or organic cotton.

The battery sends a regulated amount of electricity to a metal coil, which then becomes hot enough to vaporize the liquid soaked inside the coil’s wick.

There are more advanced versions, such as RDAs, but these are irrelevant to the topic in question.


Previous Research


Anti-vaping groups have tried incessantly to find evidence proving that vaping is dangerous. But so far, they have not found anything concrete. Dismantling their arguments would require a lot of time, so instead, let us briefly examine notable research.

Unfortunately, the illnesses seen today were not present during early studies, so these were not examined. However, e-cigarette toxicity did receive attention.

One study in the U.K. discovered that e-cigarettes are only 1% as carcinogenic as regular cigarettes, according to Vapes.

Additionally, Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University stated that there is no risk from “second-hand” vapour.

Going back to the first reference above, Vapes cites something that is relevant to vaping and, more importantly, to the issue of toxicity and illness:


“The results are dependent on three factors:

  1. The e-liquid mixture being vaped
  2. The vaping habits of the user
  3. And perhaps most importantly, the heating temperatures being applied to the coil.”


To address the first point, e-liquids vary in terms of quality and ingredients. The U.S. industry does an excellent job of self-regulating to gain consumer trust and remain competitive. However, this does not stop cheap, sub-par e-liquids from entering the marketplace. Users need to keep this in mind and opt to buy liquids from companies who provide third-party lab testing for any hazardous ingredients.

Second, toxic exposure will vary depending on how often users vape and how much they consume. Small vape pens generate very little vapour, thus exposing individuals to less. Larger, “sub-ohm” devices are designed for large cloud production, so a lot more e-liquid is inhaled with each puff.

Furthermore, some individuals tend to “chain-vape,” which is self-explanatory. Naturally, they will overexpose themselves to any potentially harmful chemicals in their liquids.

Regarding the final point, larger vape devices or “box mods” allow users to control the voltage and temperature of their devices. When vaped at too high heat, this can release some toxic chemicals. However, the heat levels required are so high that most vapes cannot even reach them. In rare cases when they can hit that kind of temperature, it is typically to uncomfortable to use.


No Cases in Canada Yet


Although experts are yet to discover a concrete reason for these issues, we have to wonder why Canada has not seen any. There could be a multitude of reasons, the most glaring one being that THC vape products are not yet legal. But there could be more to it.

In 2018, the Canadian government passed Bill S-5, also known as the Vaping and Tobacco Products Act, added new – seemingly arbitrary – restrictions to the nicotine e-liquids found in conventional vape devices.

This put limits on various chemicals and flavours allowed in e-liquids. According to Vapes:


“According to Canada Bill S-5, e-liquid vendors can no longer include caffeine, vitamins, minerals, probiotics, coloring agents, and other specifically-defined substances in their e-juice recipes.”


This covers a lot of ingredients that U.S. manufacturers are not restricted from using. Also included in the ban are certain “confectionery, dessert and cannabis flavours,” among others.

Here is where we need to look more closely. Like any artificially-flavoured food, the types of ingredients used to achieve the taste vary.

Is it possible that one of the ingredients banned in Canada happens to be present in the U.S. e-liquids? Unfortunately, research has not focused heavily – if at all – on the flavourings themselves.


Vegetable Glycerin


So far, the prime suspect is vitamin E acetate. According to health officials, the substance’s oily composition and molecular structure is harmful for the lungs. Still, this does not explain why some – albeit a minority – of these individuals fell ill despite no exposure to acetate.

But we forget another oily ingredient common to all e-cigarettes: vegetable glycerin.

As we mentioned earlier, e-liquid bases consist of propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin.

These act as carriers, responsible for containing the nicotine and flavourings until vaporized for delivery into the mouth and lungs.

Both substances are recognized as generally safe for consumption and can be found in a variety of products, such as inhalers, food and cosmetics, to name a few.

Propylene glycol (PG) is man-made and derived from petroleum. But VG is a derivative of vegetable oil, sharing something in common with vitamin E acetate.

If damage to the lungs from an oily substance is to blame, could high-VG e-liquids be a contributing factor?

The interesting thing about VG is that simpler devices cannot use it – although their liquids do still contain some VG.

At higher VG ratios (70 to 80% or above) the e-juice is too thick for smaller coils to absorb in their wicks. They need large, powerful sub-ohm devices. Consequently, the people who consume high-VG juices tend to do so in massive amounts.


WeedAdvisor’s Interest in Accuracy and Reliability


Prior to writing this piece, we referred to a lot of different media articles. One thing we noticed was that the stories varied. In some cases, the details were minor. However, some either deliberately or accidentally left out key information, effectively misleading the public.

This is frankly unacceptable. As a writer who spent several years covering the topic of e-cigarettes, this author felt compelled to step outside the hysteria and offer a third perspective.

However, we are not medical professionals, so the questions being discussed are purely theoretical based on personal knowledge and experience.

Anyone who vapes should meticulously check the ingredients of their e-liquid, choose products wisely and moderate their vaping practices.

Avoid using unregulated home-made devices, as these are highly dangerous and often powerful enough to release more toxins than the average store-bought device.

All vapers should immediately consult a doctor if they notice any strange symptoms.



An August 17th article in Japan Today reports a new study on vaping and marijuana use in teens. E-cigarette use has been on the rise in recent years among former smokers, who were able to use them as a quit smoking aid. While they are not as good as full cessation, this method of tobacco harm reduction is seen as preferable to regular cigarettes.

E-cigarettes do not use burnt tobacco. Instead, nicotine and flavourings are placed into a mixture of propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. A battery then sends power to a coil inside a tank or pod, which heats the vapour into an aerosol for inhalation.

Unfortunately, teenagers see this difference as evidence that e-cigarettes are completely safe. Although we will be hard-pressed to find anyone – expert or not – who thinks vaping is just as dangerous as smoking, it is nonetheless not meant for minors.

Now, recent research finds a connection between teen vaping and marijuana use. Based on its results, e-cigarette use in the teenage years makes them three times more likely to try marijuana.

One thing we have to consider, however, is how deep this connection really goes.


A “Gateway Drug” to Marijuana?


According to Japan Today, researchers got their information by examining 21 studies on vaping and marijuana use. It found a clear correlation between vaping and marijuana use:


“Researchers examined data from 21 previously published studies with more than 128,000 participants ages 10 to 24. Overall, young people who used e-cigarettes were 3.5 times more likely to use marijuana, the analysis found.”


However, the biggest jump was among those aged 12 to 17, who were determined to be 4.3 times more likely to try marijuana after vaping.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Nicholas Chadi, points out that the supposedly benign nature of e-cigarettes is what gets kids started. He also mentions something rather compelling – one that literally flips the “marijuana is a gateway drug” argument right on its head:


“What this study suggests is that e-cigarettes (most of which contain nicotine) should be considered harmful, in a similar way as other substances like alcohol and tobacco, which have also been associated with increased marijuana use.


Japan Today further adds:


“Vaping in combination with smoking traditional cigarettes was also more strongly connected to marijuana use than vaping alone.”


Individuals who consume nicotine through e-cigarettes and tobacco are known as “dual users.” This practice negates any potential harm reduction associated with vaping.

But what makes the findings particularly interesting is, if the connection between tobacco, alcohol and marijuana is true, then the real “gateway drugs” are the legal ones consumed on a daily basis.

But therein lies the question: is vaping, smoking or alcohol really to blame for teenaged marijuana use?




Anti-vaping and anti-cannabis activists are likely going to cite this study for years to come. To be fair, they are not wrong when they assert that vaping (let alone marijuana) is not meant for minors. But the correlation here may not reflect a causal link.

For example, Japan Today says:


“None of the smaller studies in the analysis were controlled experiments, so they could not prove that vaping directly impacts marijuana use. Researchers also didn’t examine the health outcomes associated with vaping.”


Furthermore, the study’s definition of “marijuana use” among youth is rather broad, leaving actual frequency of consumption out of the picture:


“Another limitation of the study is that researchers looked at all marijuana use – whether it was trying a single joint one time at a party ages ago or an ongoing daily habit – so it wasn’t possible to see how vaping might impact the frequency of marijuana use.”


Still, there is at least a somewhat solid theory behind the supposed (albeit unproven) link. According to Japan Today:


“…it’s possible that experimenting with e-cigarettes might make young people more curious about marijuana, reduce perceived harm of marijuana use, and increase the social access to marijuana from peers and friends.”


This also raise the question as to how easily teens will jump from vaping standard e-liquids to marijuana ones, once they become available to the public.


WeedAdvisor’s Dedication to Youth Safety


While WeedAdvisor has a strong vested interest in the cannabis industry, we also understand – and happily admit – that there are safety concerns.

This is precisely why youth have no business being in possession of marijuana products. As supporters of marijuana businesses and government regulators, we aim to educate the public in a balanced way, giving parents and youth alike the tools to understand and mitigate the potential damage associated with controlled substances, be they e-cigarettes or marijuana.