Via Leafly: Vape Pen Lung Disease: Here’s What You Need to Know

By Kush21 Editor

As of Thursday, Sept. 26, the CDC has reported 805 confirmed and probable cases in 46 states of severe acute respiratory distress syndrome possibly associated with a recently inhaled drug aerosol (commonly known as vaping). As many as 12 patients may have died from the condition. The deaths occurred in Illinois, Oregon, Indiana, California (2), Minnesota, Kansas (2), Missouri, Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi. Here’s what you need to know.

SHOULD I STOP VAPING?

WHAT IS THE SUSPECTED DIAGNOSIS?

  • In many cases, symptoms and treatment mirror a condition called lipoid pneumonia, previously found in patients who inhaled mineral oil.

Sickened lungs show up as cloudy on the left x-ray, and clear after treatment of one suspected VAPI patient in Utah. (Courtesy University of Utah)

WHAT’S CAUSING IT?

  • The contamination is emanating out of the supply chain for illicit market THC vape carts, the CDC said Sept. 19. “Most patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette products containing THC. Many patients have reported using THC and nicotine. Some have reported the use of e-cigarette products containing only nicotine.” Minnesota’s lead investigator said Sept. 24, “so far our investigation is correlating these injuries to THC vape cartridges that are illegally purchased.”
  • We don’t know for certain, but New York health authorities have confirmed that synthetic vitamin E oil (tocopheryl-acetate) is tainting most seized vape carts in that state. Pen makers report using it because it’s a cheap thickener. The FDA is now specifically looking at forms of vitamin E oil. New York has subpoenaed three thickener-makers—Floraplex, Honey Cut, and Mass Terpenes—after tests showed all three products were tocopheryl-acetate. On Sept. 13, SC Labs of California found Floraplex’s Uber Thick to be almost totally tocopheryl-acetate.
  • The FDA has received about 300 samples for testing. So far, they’ve found vitamin E acetate in half of them. The FDA is testing seized carts for THC, nicotine, cutting agents called diluents, additives, pesticides, opioids, poisons, and toxins. One New York patient who tested his cart found it contained formaldehyde, pesticide, vitamin E oil, and “a little dab of THC.” The California lab Cannasafe reports California illicit stores’ vape carts are testing as high as 40% tocopheryl-acetate.
  • Health officials have confirmed that among the tainted carts are ones with the illicit market brand names Chronic Carts, Dank Vapes, and West Coast Carts, but the condition is linked to multiple illicit market brands across multiple states. One Tulare County, CA victim’s family member confirmed the presence of a “black and gold” cart labeled “Lucky Charms” from the brand “West Coast Cure”. (Matching that description is both counterfeit packaging and authentic packaging for a popular, illicit market brand in California called West Coast Cure.)

WHY IS THIS HAPPENING NOW?

  • Leafly has reported that a new ingredient—next-generation cutting agents (thickeners)—are being misused in THC vape carts. Legal chemical thickener makers said they do not approve of use in vape carts. Chemical thickener makers also do not approve of dilutions greater than 10%. However, their web sites are unclear about the products’ approved and unapproved uses. The chemical makers have no information on what inhaling thickener aerosol does to your lungs, especially if it is heated or burned.

An oil-laden immune cell extracted from a VAPI patient in Utah (left). On the right, a normal macrophage. (Courtesy Andrew Hansen, Jordan Valley Medical Center)

HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF?

  • Only buy tested, regulated adult use and medical cannabis products in legal stores like California, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado. Licensed supply chains are much harder to contaminate. By contrast, street traffickers are filling carts with harmful chemicals, and they go straight into your lungs. Here’s how to spot an illicit market, or counterfeit THC vape cart.
  • Though licensed markets have more safeguards, suspicious additives are not yet banned in California, Washington, and Oregon. On Sept. 24, the California Dept. of Public Health told all consumers to refrain from all vaping. On Sept. 23, Massachusetts paused all vape sales statewide. On Sept. 12, Oregon regulators told stores to post vape warnings and hold suspicious products, and told licensed cart markers to immediately admit any “undisclosed agents” or face “legal consequences.” Oregon retailers have begun pulling suspicious products.
  • Cheap illicit market vape carts also routinely malfunction. Malfunctioning carts can get very hot, and burn additives and thickeners, releasing an unknown noxious gas. Run them at low, controlled temperatures.
  • If you’re concerned about additives in your cannabis, stick to tested flowers from licensed adult use stores. Check store licenses on regulators’ websites, like California’s license lookup tool. In terms of extracts, additive-free extract is called “rosin”, and it also comes in vape carts in mature adult use markets. There’s also tinctures, sublinguals, edibles, topicals, and transdermals, for those who want to avoid all cannabinoid inhalation products.

Leafly originally published this story Sept. 6th and updated it again Sept. 26 at 11:15 a.m. PST.

*All information, content, and material of this website is for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.

Find A Store Near You!

September 26, 2019

In the News

  • Herbal Bliss: 10 Perfect Moments To Smoke Marijuana
    by Malcolm MacKinnon on July 3, 2020

    Herbal Bliss: 10 Perfect Moments To Smoke Marijuana Marijuana is a superb vehicle for attaining personal balance and increasing our overall sense of well-being. The post Herbal Bliss: 10 Perfect Moments To Smoke Marijuana appeared first on The Fresh Toast.

  • Why Does Marijuana Make Some People Faint?
    by Mike Adams on July 3, 2020

    Why Does Marijuana Make Some People Faint? Some medical experts say these blackout moments can occur since THC decreases blood pressure in the body. The post Why Does Marijuana Make Some People Faint? appeared first on The Fresh Toast.

  • HBO Partners With Cannabis Companies To Promote New TV Series
    by Maria Loreto on July 2, 2020

    HBO Partners With Cannabis Companies To Promote New TV Series The series, although adult oriented, seems like it doesn’t have a lot to do with weed. The post HBO Partners With Cannabis Companies To Promote New TV Series appeared first on The Fresh Toast.

  • 7 Reasons Marijuana Is Patriotic AF
    by Terry Hacienda on July 2, 2020

    7 Reasons Marijuana Is Patriotic AF No matter what people think or say about marijuana, it's hard to deny that the herb has helped shape American culture and history. The post 7 Reasons Marijuana Is Patriotic AF appeared first on The Fresh Toast.

  • Can CBD Boost Your Immune System?
    by Maria Loreto on July 2, 2020

    Can CBD Boost Your Immune System? There's a lot of conflicting data on CBD and its therapeutic effects. Here's what researchers have to say.   The post Can CBD Boost Your Immune System? appeared first on The Fresh Toast.

  • Can Medical Marijuana Help Treat Clinical Burnout?
    by Kate-Madonna Hindes on July 2, 2020

    Can Medical Marijuana Help Treat Clinical Burnout? The intensity of the global response to the conditions of COVID-19 has prompted a need to address the high levels of burnout experienced by medical professionals.  The post Can Medical Marijuana Help Treat Clinical Burnout? appeared first on The Fresh Toast.

You May Also Like…

Cannabis on the Ballot

Cannabis on the Ballot

With the 2019 elections coming around the corner, and 7 years since Colorado and Washington State first fully...

Kush21 Newsletter

Sign up today and never miss a thing. From cannabis news to vendor specials. We got you.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This