It's time to have a chat about vape cartridges, everybody. We've been tracking the story from Virginia the past couple weeks of a mysterious lung disease associated with vaping. Last week the story exploded. Cases are coming in from across the country and the CDC is investigating along with state health officials. Right now, they can't say whether it's a problem with nicotine-based vape products, cannabis vape cartridges, or a combination of both.
What We Know Today
The CDC's warning to the public states:
1.While this investigation is ongoing, if you are concerned about these specific health risks, consider refraining from using e-cigarette products.
2.Regardless of the ongoing investigation, anyone who uses e-cigarette products should not buy these products off the street (e.g., e-cigarette products with THC, other cannabinoids)
So how does this mysterious illness present itself? The NY Times article says "patients, mostly otherwise healthy and in their late teens and 20s, are showing up with severe shortness of breath, often after suffering for several days with vomiting, fever and fatigue. Some have wound up in the intensive care unit or on a ventilator for weeks." That does not sound like a fun time.
The NY Times article suggests that "some oil droplets may be left over as the liquid cools back down, and inhaling those drops may cause breathing problems and lung inflammation." This is stated as a fact but no source or link is provided. If this is indeed the cause, then every vape product would be suspect, not just bootleg vapes. I suppose dabbing concentrates, too.
My Two Cents
So, I don't vape cartridges that often outside of reviews. I'll use them while traveling, but I'd never sit around the house vaping. As I've mentioned before, I don't think that many companies make really good vapes. This advisory could be an opportunity for many in the industry to cut out a product line they started cuz all their competitors had one but really just diminishes their brand.
There is insane demand for cannabis vapes despite what I think. I hear from some folks they represent half their business, maybe even more. Hell, there's still plenty of Dank Vapes and Mario Carts and all the rest from my counterfeit article around. The ability to get your medication discreetly is a big draw and I get it, baby, I do. I hope that means folks are hard at work making better, safer tech today. But it might be too little, too late.
I think it's time to move on from vaping. Between the fakes, the possible lead contamination, and the question of whether vaping itself is harmful, it is not looking good for cartridges. Cannabis reform can hardly afford the black eye of a public health danger if we hope to achieve federal legalization. Unless it can be proved quickly that the exact cause is due to nicotine or bootleg products, it may present a danger to existing markets, too.
The CDC says "to date, no single substance or e-cigarette product has been consistently associated with illness." If we don't know the cause, then the only way to avoid this risk is to stop vaping, period. At least until we know more.
I've put an advisement on my Fake Vape article about the possible risk. We'll be following this story closely and be sure to report any important updates ASAP.
Pity, cuz I've been collecting vapes from every brand in Maryland to do a mega-review. I wonder if I can get a refund on these things since they're unopened…