A number of recent vape-related illnesses have been linked to “Dank Vapes,” a mysterious black-market brand selling illegal THC cartridges.
A man purchased a vape cartridge off the street in Wisconsin in July. He was later hospitalized and put on life support. The man’s brother said he had been using a vape that was branded “Dank Vapes.”
The market for these illegal cartridges is growing. They’re created using cannabis distillates in a liquid form, and they’re used as an alternative to marijuana flower to get users high. Sellers can easily open up and tamper with these cartridges by adding other ingredients to make the supply last longer.
A report published in The New England Journal of Medicine took a look at vaping-related illnesses in Illinois and Wisconsin and found that among the 41 THC-using patients, 24 had been using a product branded as “Dank Vapes.”
Of the 53 patients interviewed for the report, 80% said they used a cannabis vape product in the 90 days before their symptoms started appearing. These symptoms included nausea, chest pain and difficulty breathing.
News of the mysterious brand comes as several vape deaths have been linked to black-market THC.
Sellers of Dank Vape devices on the black market promote the products as being “premium” marijuana consumption devices. The brand’s owner is still a mystery.
The market for Dank Vapes is growing because it gives users an accessible marijuana option where the drug is still illegal. It also serves as a low-cost option in states where marijuana is legal.
The brand has become so popular that others are copying it and selling their own “Dank Vapes,” which makes it even more difficult for police to track the mysterious brand.
Thus far, it has been difficult for authorities to pinpoint the common illness-causing ingredient in these vape products, but evidence points to vitamin E acetate as the culprit.
FDA Commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless said that the agency is “taking appropriate actions as the facts emerge.”
The FDA said that it has received more than 120 samples for testing, and that it was testing for a wide range of chemicals, including cannabinoids, THC, nicotine and cutting agents or diluents.
Vitamin E acetate is naturally found in vegetable oil. Vegetable oils are often used as a solvent when turning drugs, such as nicotine or THC, into vapors. In an ideal scenario, all of the ingredients would be vaporized before the user inhales them, but in reality, some of the ingredients may wind up in the lungs. The liquid would then sit in the lungs and lead to pneumonia.
The vaping industry warns users that they should only purchase legitimate, verified vape juice products. The National Cannabis industry has also blamed prohibition for fueling the illegal market.
In fact, the California Cannabis Advisory Committee stated that “fragmented and uncoordinated” enforcement was causing a thriving, unregulated black market. Because marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, regulation becomes even more challenging or impossible in some cases.
The push to blame e-cigarettes for the recent lung disease cases is likely to drive users back to cigarettes, which are undoubtedly damaging to health. Banning vape products would only further fuel the black market for these products.Misleading reports in the media have complicated matters even further. But the New York State Department of Health itself has linked many of the lung disease cases to cannabis products with high levels of vitamin E acetate. Updated Date: 18 September 2019, 18:06