Cannabis Vape Health Crisis – An In-Depth Look

Within the past few months, a vaping health crisis has taken the country by storm. Nearly 400 have been hospitalized and several have been killed due to black market cannabis vape cartridges.

In turn, many states and the federal government have been seeking bans surrounding vape products. Many of these proposed regulations claim we no too little about vaping and, therefore, products such as cannabis cartridges and nicotine e-liquid just aren’t safe for consumers.

But the truth of the matter is the vape cartridges causing this crisis were manufactured through facilities without a state-license nor a state-test.

The assumption that all vaping products are dangerous isn’t an accurate portrayal of what’s actually happening. For this reason, we’re bringing you our in-depth look of the vape health crisis. At the end, we invite you to ask further questions.

The Perpetruator

Currently, we only know so much about what’s actually causing this health crisis. But what we do know is quite informative.

Black market cannabis cartridges have been distributed through a variety of locations, including smoke shops and the internet. These cartridges contains vitamin E acetate, a thickening agent used in many black market vape products.¹

When ingested or applied as a topical, vitamin E isn’t dangerous and actually has some beneficial health properties. However, when inhaled, it can coat the lungs and cause the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath

Still, investigators aren’t 100% convinced that vitamin E acetate is the only perpetrator. According to the FDA, 12 nicotine samples and 18 THC samples have been taken from patients across the country who’ve suffered from this health crisis. Only 10 of the 18 THC samples contained vitamin E acetate.

The real perpetrator of this health crisis is still widely unknown. In fact, there was nothing unusual found within the nicotine products collected from sick patients. This is why many news outlets and lawmakers have high concern for vaping products as a whole.

What Do We Know About Vaping?

Vaping was initially created as a way for cigarette smokers to quit their life-threatening habit. The idea was not only to create a healthier alternative, but to do so in a way that would help smokers wean off nicotine.

Smokers can measure how much nicotine they consume within a day and match that with nicotine count found in e-liquids. From there, they can slowly move their nicotine count down to eventually reach a point where they no longer needed it.

Nicotine is so highly addictive, some professionals have gone as far to say it’s just as difficult to quit as heroin or cocaine. A healthier alternative which allows people to slowly wean off nicotine seems like an ideal solution.

And many have been able to kick their smoking habit through this method.

However, vaping took on a culture of its own. Many people – most of whom have never smoked a cigarette – were picking up these devices and using them as they saw fit. Vaping is more attractive among young people as it doesn’t leave a smell behind and comes in a variety of delicious flavors.

Pretty soon, many teenagers found themselves addictive to nicotine despite the age restrictions set on these products. This in itself developed a crisis that made many parents of America concerned.

But with the recent health issues caused by vaping, this concern has been raised to a whole knew level. Since vaping is so new, there’s only so much we know about it’s health consequences. Furthermore, we know nothing of its long-term health consequences.

Vaping Health Risks

It’s safe enough to assume that vaping is much safer in comparison to tobacco smoking. We know that smoking a cigarette exposes you to nearly 7,000 chemicals – many of which are dangerous to the body. Whereas a vape pen exposes you to much few toxins.

Still, most vape products still expose you to the highly addictive chemical nicotine. Nicotine in itself comes with some health consequences, including higher blood pressure which increases your risk of heart attack.

Furthermore, the safety concerning the chemicals used to make vape products aren’t entirely known. Though we understand they’re safer than traditional cigarettes, that’s not to say they don’t have their own health risks.

One risk that has been identified is bronchiolitis obliterans (also known as “popcorn lung”. It’s a condition that damages your lungs’ small airways and makes you feel both symptoms of cough and a shortness of breath. However, people who vape are mostly at risk of popcorn lung if they use products containing diacetyl.

What About Vaping Cannabis Products?

Cannabis vaping products are, for the most part, made similarly to nicotine vaping products.

Both products take an isolated form of the chemical they want to advertise (i.e. nicotine, THC, CBD, etc.). From there, the chemical is mixed with terpenes to provide the user with extra flavor OR with a form of glucol (PG, VG, or PEG).

As discussed, we aren’t entirely certain of the health risks surrounding these ingredients. All we know is it’s safer than smoking methods.

The current health crisis is a product of black market companies mixing in chemicals that haven’t been properly tested. We know that vitamin E is one of these dangerous perpetrators, but since we don’t know everything used to make these products, we also don’t know all the chemicals involved.

How to Safely Shop for Vape Products

The recent news shouldn’t necessarily completely turn you off from vape products as a whole. Similar to the CBD industry, the vape industry is too new to have proper regulations and, with that, sketchy companies have been able to infiltrate and make a quick buck off unsuspecting victims.

Still, if you play it safe when purchasing vape products – no matter whether they’re nicotine or cannabis – you don’t have a great deal to concern yourself with.

When shopping, there are a few things you want to keep an eye out for:

1.) The Reputation of the Company

One of the most clear indicators for finding the right vaping product is looking into the reputation of the company. Though vaping is still fairly new, it’s been around long enough for companies to develop a reputation for themselves.

And there are plenty out there who provide their users with safe products.

In order to identify a reputable company, you need to look into what their customers have to say about them. This can either be done through reviews or online forums.

Of course, you can also go into a vape shop and ask for their opinion on a company. However, as this recent news has shown us, many vape shops have been selling illicit products and, for that reason, we suggest you keep your trust in the customers’ opinions.

2.) The Ingredients of the Products

If you’ve found a company you believe you can trust, look into the ingredients they put into their products. From there, get a sense of the health risks these ingredients come with – particularly, through inhaling.

This is not only a great way for you to understand exactly what’s going into your body, but to determine which company offers the ingredients you seek out in a vaping product.

3.) Certificate of Analysis

A reputable company will be transparent with 3rd party testing results. We see this strongly in the CBD industry, but it’s also having a significant impact on both the nicotine and THC industry.

A 3rd party lab test is simply when a company gives their products to another, unbiased source and receives information about how safe their products are. The main purpose of advertising these results to the public is for you to understand exactly what you’re getting within your vaping product.

Final Word

It shouldn’t be taken with a grain of salt that the vaping industry expanded greatly over the last decade. Yes, the recent news of faulty vape products is concerning, but to get rid of vaping entirely is to due away with its original purpose: to keep people from smoking cigarettes.

Of course, users should be concerned considering this industry isn’t as regulated as other industries that may put people’s health at risks. But this concern shouldn’t discourage you entirely from using vape products.

There are a number of great products currently on the market and, furthermore, there’s a lot of benefits to vaping both cannabis and nicotine in comparison to their smoking counterparts.

As we suggest, you should do some research about a company before buying into them. With the proper research, we guarantee the health risks the news portrays are low and, in many cases, completely absent.

Your Questions

Still have questions surrounding the vape health crisis?

We invite you to ask them in the comments below. If you have any further information about the topic that you’d like to share, we’d also love to hear from you.

Reference Sources

¹ Washington Post: Contaminant found in marijuana vaping products linked to deadly lung illness, tests show

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