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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

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Despite the U.S. government’s heavy attack on e-cigarettes, their THC counterparts are not immune to the fallout.

According to The New York Post, the increasing number illnesses allegedly linked to vaping have prompted a lot of wary customers to drift away from THC vape products.

Although there are many ways to consume cannabis, vaping accounts for about 23% of the market and – until now – is the fastest-growing consumption method.

But as health officials and the public wait for more information, consumers’ cautious behaviour – while understandable – will at least cause short-term harm for some companies.

However, not all of the effects are negative.

 

Dropping Sales

 

Unsurprisingly, people are now wary of THC vapes. As The New York Post explains, the outcome is rather clear:

 

“Sales of vaping products — the fastest-growing segment of the burgeoning pot market — are falling nationwide amid reports of hundreds of mysterious lung ailments — the vast majority of which have been linked to vaping THC…”

 

Cannabis One CEO Jeff Mascio is just one of many industry insiders who feels the pinch. Like everyone else, he told The New York Post that there was a “definite slowdown” in sales. He explains that the downward trend in vape sales started in August, describing the ordeal as “…a knee-jerk reaction, a little too extreme.”

But with the FDA now reporting the number of illnesses and deaths at 530 and eight respectively as of September 19th, this aversion is completely inevitable.

 

Financial Impact

 

Companies specializing in vape oils will certainly take a hit. However, Mascio noted that this did not cause anyone to give up on cannabis entirely. With options like dry herb, edibles, topicals, oils and other products, there is no shortage of new avenue to consume marijuana.

Mascio says:

 

“We believe the true impact on total sales will be negligible, and we don’t see it hurting our earnings or affecting our share price.”

 

Misdirected Blame

 

In light of the recent illnesses, the Trump administration was quick to react. However, their priorities shifted from THC vape devices to youth vaping. Consequently, Trump and the FDA plan to ban all sales of flavoured e-liquids, aside from tobacco. They hope to curb youth vaping, despite the fact that this does nothing to investigate or address the real issue at hand.

But Trump failed to notice that this move could cost him the presidency. According to Axios, the vapers in key battleground states outnumber the margins by which he won in the previous election. If he follows through with the ban, vapers will not support him. All the Democrats have to do is be more friendly to vaping and they will enjoy a notable rise in the polls.

 

A Double-Edged Sword

 

While the recent news had a huge impact, slowing down one industry through fear and nearly destroying another through legislation, we could argue that there is a silver lining.

In most cases, a reduction in legal cannabis sales means that people are likely turning to the black market. But in the case of THC vapes, the fear transcends legality.

This means that the recent drop mean less THC vape sales for the illegal market. In fact, the unregulated nature of these underground products makes users more likely to purchase legally.

 

WeedAdvisor’s Emphasis on Safety

 

We find it unfortunate that a huge segment of the cannabis market is suffering, but all things considered, this is the best approach.

As educators, we value an evidence-based approach and prefer action to come after research. But in this case, WeedAdvisor does support the cautious behaviour displayed by consumers.

Although many may see this situation as a knee-jerk reaction, there is literally no other way this would have played out. We are naturally concerned when we perceive a direct risk to our personal safety. For all we know, this instinct could potentially save a lot of lives.

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

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In the last few weeks, anti-vaping hysteria erupted following a string of illnesses and one death associated with the practice. According to an August 30th article in The Washington Post, a total of 354 patients may be suffering from lung-related illness as a result of vaping.

Also known as “e-cigarettes,” vaping began as a smoking cessation aid. Using liquids containing a mix of propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), flavourings (which can be a variety of different FDA-approved chemicals) and nicotine, vaping became quite popular as an alternative to conventional cigarettes.

Understandably, it did not take long for the technology to adapt for consuming cannabinoids. However, the recipe is much different.

According to an update by The Washington Post, the ingredient potentially responsible for these illnesses is not VG or PG.

Although experts are not completely certain that they found the culprit, there is an eerie correlation that should at least give cannabis vapers cause for concern.

 

Vitamin E Acetate

 

Vitamin E acetate is an oil extracted from vitamin E. Like PG and VG, the product is safe to ingest. However, nothing is known about the risks (if any) of inhaling it. However, there is cause for concern, as The Washington Post explains:

 

“[Vitamin E acetate] sounds harmless, experts said, but its molecular structure could make it hazardous when inhaled. Its oil-like properties could be associated with the kinds of respiratory symptoms that many patients have reported: cough, shortness of breath and chest pain, officials said.”

 

One compelling fact is that the oil was a common denominator in virtually all the samples. According to the New York State Department of Health:

 

“At least one vitamin E acetate containing vape product has been linked to each patient who submitted a product for testing. Vitamin E acetate is not an approved additive for New York State Medical Marijuana Program-authorized vape products and was not seen in the nicotine-based products that were tested.”

 

Understanding the Difference

 

To those who are familiar with vaping and vaping technology, it comes as no surprise that vitamin E acetate is not present in conventional e-liquids. Nicotine vapes use PG/VG e-liquids, while THC products use vape oils. E-liquids and oils require different tanks to work. Placing oil in an e-liquid device will – at best – burn the coil and be extremely harsh to inhale.

However, nicotine vapes are not home free. While the vast majority of sick patients report using THC vapes from both legal and illegal sources, The Washington Post warns:

 

“Many of those who have fallen ill say they have vaped products containing marijuana, but others said they used traditional nicotine e-cigarettes. Many report using both. Authorities said they are not ruling out adulterants in nicotine vaping products.”

 

High-quality e-liquids do not usually contain adulterants, but they appear to be rather common in highly popular CBD e-liquids.

 

Still Inconclusive

 

The vitamin E acetate lead is a good start, but investigators say that this is far from conclusive. According to The Washington Post:

“Although the discovery of a common chemical in lab tests from the FDA and New York’s highly regarded Wadsworth Center lab offers a potential lead, officials cautioned that they are a long way from understanding what exactly is making so many people sick.”

With cases rising every day, however, time is of the essence to find the cause and alert the public.

Meanwhile, it is best for individuals to avoid THC products and carefully research the ingredients in their conventional e-liquids as well.

WeedAdvisor’s Focus on Industry Safety

Product safety has always been something WeedAdvisor not only supports, but also actively helps with. Thanks to our business solutions, manufacturers have a way to easily remain compliant with regulations, which include quality control.

The spike in vape-related illnesses is truly disturbing. But given that a good portion of these THC products were obtained illegally, it is also not very surprising.

Given the nature of the recent discoveries, we urge consumers to uses caution when purchasing their products and to avoid anything from street dealers or grey market dispensaries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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?

 

Limitations

 

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.