The Vaping Crisis Culprit
A Lowdown For Vaping Safely
With teen usage, vaping-related lung injuries, and illicit market vape recalls at an all-time high, we’re giving you the entire story.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) generated a new report and we’re reviewing what exactly is going on in the vaping industry, and if you do use a vape, how you can continue to do so safely.
The Lowdown of the Outbreak
EVALI is the name that the CDC gave for the dangerous, newly identified lung disease linked to vaping. The name EVALI is an acronym that stands for e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury.
While EVALI hospitalizations rise to the top of the headlines, the CDC believes that they’ve identified the root of the cause.
The CDC has run extensive lab tests and has come to the conclusion that vitamin E acetate, primarily used as a thickening agent for THC-containing e-cigarettes and vaping products was the chemical to blame. Though vitamin E acetate is highlighted as the core culprit causing the spike in lung injuries, that doesn’t mean they’re not still investigating other similarities between the cases.
With numbers as high as 2,711 EVALI cases reported to the CDC, spread throughout EVERY SINGLE STATE in the United States, and the death toll rising to 60, everyone who previously used an inhalable method for THC is now hoping their vape isn’t a tainted one as well.
While this is the first time that they have detected a chemical of concern in samples from patients with EVALI, ongoing work by the FDA is still running to ensure the safety for those who want to vape without worrying about damaging their lungs with unwelcome chemicals.
Where is this happening?
Although cases of EVALI were found in every state in the US — California, Texas, and Illinois were by-far the most concentrated regions, and illicit market presence is marked as the dominant source.
Also coined as the “wild west” for cannabis; this state is known for its gray market, where both legal and illegal operations run 24/7. With such a saturated market, consumers are less likely to buy accessories such as vapes from legal shops. However, turning toward cheaper illicit alternatives, unfortunately, makes consumers more susceptible to EVALI based on the state’s culture for buying from illicit shops and consumer’s likelihood to buy at a better price.
What many consumers don’t realize is that regulatory checks are mandatory for legal products, but because illicit operations outnumber licensed dispensaries 3:1 and have the ability to undercut legal prices, consumers still gravitated toward the low price instead of putting their safety first.
We can’t be certain, but our hunch is that the outbreak in Texas could be due to restrictions in the marijuana laws as well as limited to no access to legal outlets to-date.
In Texas marijuana is illegal to smoke, however, the state allows for low THC buds to be inhaled. By forcing consumers to choose an alternative to smoking the flower and not giving access to legal outlets to purchase accessories like vaporizers from, there are bound to be unregulated products on the market that cause injuries such as EVALI due to the lack of quality and safety tests.
Just recently legalizing adult-use cannabis, meant that, up until now, residents of the state have been turning to their illicit market dealers for products and accessories making them vulnerable to lung injuries due to the unregulated vapes on the market.
We’re hopeful that, with the market opening up to offer legal outlets to buy from, that consumers will lean toward spending a bit more for the reassurance that they won’t be affected by EVALI or illicit products that may be tainted goods.
The CDC will continue its investigations…
The CDC included in their report that they think the worst is behind us now. Since September 15, there has been a steady decline of EVALI cases falling from 58% reported on November 5, 2019, to 30% reported on December 3rd, 2019. However, in November alone, there were 176 reports of EVALI still in the U.S.
While vitamin E acetate is linked to EVALI cases, the CDC recorded that the evidence they’ve collected is not sufficient enough to rule out combinations of chemicals of concern to these injuries. There are still many different substances under investigation such as additional chemicals found in e-cigarettes/vapes, plant oils, mineral oils, MCT oils, and terpenes (found and added to THC products).
In the current cases, none of these other substances were found, however that won’t rule them out of the equation just yet.
So while it’s possible that there is more than one major cause to the outbreak, for now, they’ve highlighted that you should not be sourcing your cannabis products from the illicit market because it’s too much of a gamble for what you’ll get.
Tips for Vaping Safely
- STOP using your vape if it wasn’t purchased through a licensed shop where regulatory measures were taken. Straight up avoid using THC-containing e-cigarettes, and vaping products if you can, especially if you got them from unlicensed sources like illicit shops, friends, family, or your local dealer.
- Buy from licensed shops going forward! Ensuring that you purchase marijuana/marijuana products at licensed legal dispensaries will give you the peace of mind that you’re looking for. Exclusively selling pre-tested and regulated products, you’ll know that you won’t end up potentially in the hospital before you spend your hard-earned dollars. Safety should always be a priority, and even though illegal shops offer a lower price, it should never come at a cost to your safety.
- Don’t add vitamin E acetate (or products of this) to your vaping products/liquids. On top of that, don’t add any substance that wasn’t intended by the manufacturer! You never know what chemical combination could result in a threat to your health and safety. As the CDC is still investigating chemical combinations that could have led to EVALI, it’s better to avoid cross-contamination until you know that you’re definitely in the clear.’
There you have it, the whole situation around the vaping crisis — what exactly was the root of the cause, and how you can vape safely going forward!
Before You Go…
Buying from your dealer or unlicensed shops may be easier, cheaper and more convenient at the moment, but it should never be prioritized over your safety. If we support the legal industry, doors are going to open. Legal cannabis will become easier to get, have more variety in terms of products and cost, and one day, it could even be delivered right to your door. Simple as that.
Support your local licensed cannabis retailer, and keep safety and peace of mind at the forefront of your decisions when it comes to cannabis products. The legal cannabis industry is set to soar in the next 2–5 years, and it needs our support.
Keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Buy legal. Consume safely.
Verda encourages everyone to support local dispensaries and to buy legal cannabis, and one day, cannabis will not only be safe to consume, but it will be something just as common as having a beer at the end of your day. Cannabis shouldn’t be feared but enjoyed.
Miss the last blog? Check it out here and learn about how Ontario could be changing how they issue cannabis retail licenses!