On Oct. 4, the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] released a statement advising the public to stop consuming all Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) vaping products, due to an ongoing investigation regarding medical cases related to lung illnesses.
As of Oct. 22, 34 people have died from the mysterious, ongoing epidemic. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] has had over 1,600 cases related to severe respiratory problems reported to the nation’s health protection agency.
According to Psychology Today, THC is an active ingredient found in marijuana that releases the psychoactive element, producing a “high.”
THC oil is used to create inhalable vape cartridges, which are filled in tiny disposable containers. “Vape pens have gained acceptance from the cannabis community for their ease of use,” stated Gina Coleman, a photographer for a popular source for everything weed-related, WeedMaps. “Since vaping technology is so new, long-term health effects of vaping aren’t known yet.”
The lung injuries reported share a common association with counterfeit vaping products containing cannabis THC oil, nicotine, or both. 85 percent of the cases reported said that patients vaped illicit THC cartridges, which they admittedly purchased through the black market.
The leading agency responsible for regulating commercial cannabis licenses either for medical and/or adult-use in California is the Bureau of Cannabis Control [BCC]. The BCC licenses retailers, testing laboratories, temporary cannabis events, and distributors.
According to the BCC’s Chief of Communications, Alex Traveso, the Bureau is working hand-in-hand with the California Department of Public Health [CDPH], who have taken the lead on investigating the matter. “We are definitely working closely with them [CDPH] to determine the cause of the illnesses. Potentially, we may need to ask our lab to test for certain additives,” said Traveso.
The Bureau claims to be “crafting regulations that protect public safety,” as per Traveso. “Regulations include sensible daily purchase limits, strict testing standards, and a robust enforcement program.”
Victoria Arana works at a licensed dispensary, California Caregivers Alliance [CCA], located in Silverlake, Los Angeles. According to Arana, “All properly tested cannabis products come with a CoA [Cannabis Certificate of Analysis]. These labs test for potency, full cannabinoid profile, chemical contaminants such as pesticides or solvents, microbial contaminants such as mold or mildew, and other physical contaminants such as dirt or dust.”
Obtaining a license from the BCC in the Los Angeles county has been an “uphill battle,” mentioned Arana. “A licensed facility would not be willing to risk their ever valuable license over tainted product.”
Numerous unlicensed dispensaries have been reportedly raided by police officials for not having proper paperwork to distribute certain, if not all, cannabis products.
Although illegal, these dispensaries thrive in the industry for slashing tax prices, which ultimately lowers the price value.
“If your dispensary is not transparent with all of its products you should be thinking twice about consuming the product… although it may seem more convenient to buy from ‘illegal shops’ that don’t tax, at the end of the day, were those few dollars worth the toxicity?” Arana advised.