As the CDC and state health authorities scramble to find the cause behind a lung illness caused by vaping, weed companies say the widespread negative press covering the ailment has not affected their cartridge sales.
Last week, Marijuana Business Daily reported that some cannabis industry leaders suspected that news covering the vaping illness would lead to a temporary slump in weed vape sales. But so far, that dip in sales hasn’t occurred, likely because licensed producers and retailers have assured the public that their products are safe.
“Luckily, most of the coverage I’ve seen so far has been very clear to point out that regulated, state-legal cannabis products are not at fault here,” Morgan Fox, a spokesperson for National Cannabis Industry Association, told Marijuana Business Daily. “But I think it’s going to create an impetus for regulated producers to really make sure that consumers know that their products are as safe as possible and regulated and tested.”
Gallery — What Fake Vape Carts Actually Look Like:
Last week, the CDC announced that it had identified one possible culprit behind the illness: vitamin E acetate, a chemical additive used as a filler component for vape cartridges. Vitamin E acetate was detected in black market marijuana cartridge samples collected from vape illness patients, but it’s not commonly found in nicotine vapes.
“It’s been in the news... so people are concerned,” Kimberly Cargile, the CEO of A Therapeutic Alternative cannabis dispensary in California, told Marijuana Business Daily. “And we’re encouraging people, if they are concerned, to choose other products — other ways of consuming cannabis.”
Cargile has not pulled any cannabis vape cartridges from her dispensary’s shelves because the stocked products are lab-tested and approved by the state. “We’ve had policies in place since [vaping became a trend] to only accept pure cannabis oil,” Cargile continued. “We don’t accept or sell any vape products that are cut with propylene glycol or vitamin E or coconut oil or have any additives or flavoring at all.”
Black market marijuana vape cartridges are not lab-tested, nor do manufacturers have to list their ingredients on the labels, since their products are unlicensed (read: illegal). Dubbed “fake vape” cartridges, these products have disrupted both legal and illicit cannabis markets due to their popularity and the widespread belief that vaping is inherently healthier than smoking.
On Monday, the FDA issued a warning to America’s top-selling nicotine vape pen producer, JUUL, for illegally marketing its devices as “less risky than cigarettes,” Yahoo! Finance reported. JUUL did not receive prior FDA approval for its marketing claims. The company recently caught flak for its role in the so-called “teen vaping craze,” as American high schoolers ditch tobacco products in favor of weed and nicotine vapes.
Although the media has catapulted vitamin E acetate deep into the public’s imagination, authorities have not definitively determined that the additive is behind the nationwide vaping lung illness epidemic. It’s possible that vitamin E acetate is just one component that triggers the illness, or it may not be responsible for the illness at all.