The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration say they believe a vitamin E thickening agent being used to cut illicit THC vaping cartridges could be the cause of a mysterious illness that has sickened hundreds of people nationwide.
United Press International reports that vitamin E oil, or tocopheryl acetate, is one of the compounds being looked at in connection with the hospitalization of around 450 people, plus six deaths, among vape users in 33 states.
High levels of the compound were first detected in illegal cartridges in New York. Vitamin E acetate is not an approved additive under New York's cannabis regulations. The nicotine cartridges that were tested did not contain the substance.
Vitamin E acetate is not supposed to be inhaled. But Peter Hackett, CEO of Concord, Calif.-based Air Vapor, believes desperate black market distributors are using it to cut products they can no longer easily find.
THC vape cartridges, both legal and illegal, have been sold for years. They are filled with extracted cannabis oil that vaporizes when it comes in contact with heated coils from a vape pen or e-cigarette.
But because of a crackdown on illegal marijuana cultivation by California, Hackett believes illegal THC vape cartridge producers are having a harder time obtaining cannabis oil and are adding more thickeners, including vitamin E acetate...
"I believe the supply chain shortage in California has something to do with it," Hackett said, adding that California has been the source of most of the illegal cannabis vaping cartridges sold throughout the United States. "The black-market producers can't find enough oil, so they're filling cartridges with high percentages of thickening agent," he said.
Just one more reminder to avoid black market weed.