Health officials have identified the “brands” of marijuana vaporizer cartridges that are behind the recent vaping crisis that has sickened thousands of people and even caused a handful of deaths, PBS News Hour reports.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, a vaping illness has bedeviled patients and health officials for the past several months. Users of electronic vaporizer devices have been turning up sick in emergency rooms across the country with severe lung diseases that resemble pneumonia. The devices burn cartridges of oil containing either nicotine or marijuana before turning it into a vapor that’s then inhaled by the user. As of this writing, over 2,000 people have suffered from the illness, which has been given the name “e-cigarette or vaping product use associated lung injury” (EVALI), and 48 people have died from it.
The majority of the sickened individuals were vaping what they believed was oil containing marijuana.
Officials had long suspected that the culprit was oil cut with other substances and placed into counterfeit cartridges sold on the black market. And indeed, last month, authorities determined that the main culprit was most likely Vitamin E oil that was used as a cutting agent. Though Vitamin E is healthy when eaten, it’s believed to be dangerous when inhaled into the lungs.
Now, authorities are naming the specific “brands” that are believed to have sickened the individuals. “Brands” is used here in quotation marks because it appears that counterfeiters used the brand names to pass off diluted cannabis oil, and in one case used a “brand” that didn’t exist.
The biggest group of patients — 56 percent of them — had vaped oil from “Dank Vapes.” There is no brand called “Dank Vapes.” Rather, it’s simply empty packaging meant to spoof legitimate marijuana cartridges that anyone can order from China and fill with whatever they want, and then unscrupulously sell.
TKO (15 percent), Smart Cart (13 percent), and Rove (12 percent) are also brands that have been used by individuals who later got sick. Again, authorities suspect that unscrupulous sellers cut the actual THC oil with Vitamin E or other adulterants and then resold it on the black market. That, or the products were counterfeit to begin with.
So good are counterfeiters at spoofing the actual brands that in some cases, in states where marijuana is legal, the actual manufacturers have had to redesign their packaging in order to get a step ahead of the counterfeiters.
As of this writing, authorities are taking a “wait and see” attitude before declaring that the vaping crisis has started waning.