The United States has been in the middle of a cannabis vape pen hysteria of sorts for the last week or two. Mainstream media and cannabis opponents seem to be obsessed with the story, insinuating that full blame for the unfortunate deaths that have occurred should be placed completely on cannabis vape pen cartridges.
Every one of the deaths is sad and unfortunate, which is why it has been frustrating for the cannabis community to see many mainstream media outlets and cannabis opponents using the deaths of these individuals to help spread misleading anti-cannabis propaganda.
In recent weeks hundreds of illnesses and half a dozen deaths have been reported across the country, with e-cigarette device usage being pointed to as the likely cause. Some cases involve consumers that have reported using cannabis vape pen cartridges and some involve consumers that reported having only used nicotine-based vaping products.
For whatever reason, THC vape pen cartridges have largely become the focus of mainstream media coverage and accusations from opponents. The fact of the matter is that no one at this point is 100% positive what is causing the illnesses and deaths. Consumers and cannabis companies have to wait for more information to become known.
As previously mentioned, some of the cases involve THC cartridges and some do not. Some cases involve the dilutant additive vitamin E acetate and some do not. Vitamin E acetate and other additives are the most likely suspect, and if that proves to be true, then THC has nothing to do with the situation other than the cannabinoid was also present (in some of the cases).
Illegal, unregulated cannabis cartridges have been flooding the United States, especially in illegal jurisdictions. It’s easy to understand why vape pen cartridges are popular among consumers – they are very convenient, indiscrete, and easy to pack around and use. However, for some consumers, those illegal cartridges have come at a terrible cost to their personal health, and in certain cases, potentially their lives.
When someone purchases a cannabis vape pen cartridge from an unregulated source, there’s no telling what could be contained inside of the cartridge. It’s not the THC that is the issue, it’s whatever else may be in the cartridge. The list of ingredients may or may not even include THC.
Even from regulated sources, there are a lot of compounds that can be used that are not prohibited, including dilutants that are used to make the vape pen oil thinner and therefore easier for devices to turn into vapor.
Consumers should definitely be concerned about vape pen cartridges, and about what they inhale in general. However, that concern needs to be tempered. If you live in an illegal state, you should probably avoid vape pen cartridges altogether since there’s no real way to know what is inside of them.
People may claim to have acquired the cartridges from regulated sources, but that is not always the case, with the most obvious sign being that the packaging has cartoon characters on it. Packaging that could be appealing to children is not allowed in legal markets.
For consumers that purchase vape pen cartridges from legal, regulated dispensaries where they live the best approach is to know where the oil inside of the cartridge came from, what ingredients were used, and specifically if any additives have been put into the cartridge such as ‘natural terpenes’ or dilutants.
Terpenes can be sourced from something natural but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are safe. After all, you inhale it in vapor form if you are consuming it via a vape pen cartridge, and not eating it in its original form. That’s not to say that every additive is unsafe, but until more research is conducted and definitive scientific conclusions are reached it’s best to err on the side of caution.
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