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article imageA warning about black market THC vaping cartridges

By Karen Graham     Sep 10, 2019 in Health
A Wisconsin man is accused of running a 10-man operation that manufactured thousands of counterfeit vaping cartridges loaded with THC oil every day for almost two years, authorities said.
Kenosha County prosecutors said 20-year-old Tyler Huffhines had employees make professionally packaged cartridges, averaging 3,000 to 5,000 cartridges a day that sold for $16 a pop, according to the Associated Press.
“Based on how everything was set up, this was a very high-tech operation that was running for some time,” Andrew Burgoyne, Kenosha County assistant district attorney, said during a Monday court hearing to set bond. Police said the business started in January 2018.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Kenosha Drug Operations Group and other agencies executed search warrants at two homes. Authorities seized 188 pounds (85 kilograms) of marijuana, THC oil, eight firearms, and about $20,000 in cash, according to the Kenosha News.
Vitamin E supplements
Vitamin E supplements
John Liu, courtesy Oregon State University
The evidence around vitamin E acetate oil
The New York State Department of Health, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are investigating vitamin E acetate, an oil that is used in topical skincare products and is also safe for ingestion. The CDC is also looking at several other ingredients as well.
The thing is - New York's health department examined and tested 34 cannabis-containing vape cartridges linked to patients who submitted a product for testing, and every single cartridge had "very high levels of vitamin E acetate," according to the agency.
In a statement from the health department last week, the agency said vitamin E acetate is not an approved additive for New York's medical marijuana program-authorized vape products and was not found in the nicotine-based products that were tested.
Laboratory test results show very high levels of vitamin E acetate in nearly all cannabis-containing...
Laboratory test results show very high levels of vitamin E acetate in nearly all cannabis-containing samples analyzed by New York State’s Wadsworth Laboratory.
New York Department of Health
Peter Hackett, the CEO of Concord, California-based Air Vapor, a vape hardware distributor, said vitamin E oil can be purchased for "pennies" from skin lotion wholesalers. However, while he said it is safe in a skin lotion or as a supplement, it has a boiling point of 455 degrees Fahrenheit, and should not be inhaled.
"The lab recommendations are you should be using a mask when it is heated, but now it's being found in vape products," Hackett said. He believes that 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. Hackett admits that most of his buyers are using his cartridges to make THC vapes, both legal and illicit.
Vaping use among teens has jumped 78% over the last few years.
Vaping use among teens has jumped 78% over the last few years.
micadew from US (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Black market cartridges with THC
Among patients in Illinois and Wisconsin, 83 percent admitted vaping cannabis extracts bought on the black market. The other 17 percent said they had only vaped nicotine, but health officials think some of this group may have just been reluctant to admit they had used a black market THC cartridge.
"These findings cast further doubt on the wisdom of general warnings about "vaping" and "e-cigarettes," which imply that legal nicotine products are implicated in these cases," writes Reason.com. However, legal e-cigarettes have not been implicated in any of the lung illnesses to date.
A new study, reported Friday in The New England Journal of Medicine, focused on 53 patients who had vaped within 90 days of their symptoms, most of them saying they had vaped within a week of the study.
"Patients reported using 14 distinct brands of THC products and 13 brands of nicotine products in a wide range of flavors," the researchers say. "The most common THC product that was reported was marketed under the 'Dank Vape' label (reported by 24 of 41 interviewed patients [59 percent). Patients reported the use of a number of different e-cigarette devices to aerosolize these products."
This Twitter account is now restricted due to unusual activity.
This Twitter account is now restricted due to unusual activity.
Dank Cart Official
The ongoing investigations are zeroing in on black market vaping cartridges. The New York Times notes, that "some dangerous chemical or combination of chemicals has been introduced into the pipeline of vaping products." Investigators "believe that when people vape this noxious cocktail, it sets off a dangerous, even lethal, reaction inside the lungs."
What is Dank Vapes?
Dank Vapes has a logo. You can buy Dank Vapes T-shirts. Sales of Dank Vapes products can be easily spotted on Twitter or Instagram or Medium, according to Inverse. Basically, it is a black market brand.
“They act like a cannabis company, but they actually don’t exist. They’re in the packaging industry,” Mark Hoashi, founder of the Doja app, which is “Yelp for the cannabis industry,” tells Inverse. “These are just people filling cartridges as ‘Dank Vapes.’ It’s not a singular facility. It’s just people in their garages filling them and selling them.”
The illegal THC vaping cartridges can also contain unsafe levels of myclobutanil — a fungicide. When myclobutanil is heated, it releases toxic fumes, one of which is hydrogen cyanide. Myron Ronay, the CEO of BelCosta Labs, a cannabis testing lab in California, says “That’s one of the most commonly discussed pesticides. That’s definitely one that we see frequently in the underground market."
This site also claims to be in partnership with Digamma Consulting — a cannabis consulting firm th...
This site also claims to be in partnership with Digamma Consulting — a cannabis consulting firm that connects licensed manufacturers with licensed labs, although the consulting firm denies this.
Dank Vape Cartridges. org
There are any number of illegal sites on the Internet, including something called “Mario Karts” and “Cereal Carts” (“carts” is short for cartridges). And then there’s Dank Vapes. One Dank Vapes dealer even goes so far as to claim their product is recommended by doctors.
Onlinedankvapesshop.com, a website which claims to sell “real” Dank Vapes, offers this sales pitch: “Although many of these products seem aesthetically similar at first glance, there are many nuances that distinguish them from one another. With Dank Vapes taking the ranks (sic) of premium.”
The whole point of this article is to warn young people that anything bought on a street corner or on the Internet is not always safe or, for that matter, legal. Jeez, people... Use your brains before they are totally destroyed.
More about thc cartridges, vaping, Black market, Dank Vapes, vitamin E acetate
 
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