Michigan cannabis regulators have recalled over 9,000 vaping products that tested positive for vitamin E acetate, a vape oil cutting agent that health authorities believe is responsible for the recent outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries.
On Wednesday, the state Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) recalled several different flavors of Savage brand vaping concentrate sold by Plan B Wellness, a licensed dispensary in Detroit. The state pulled 8,020 prepackaged vape carts off the store’s shelves and inventories, but the recall also includes 1,360 vape carts that had already been sold to customers, MLive reported. Each of these products was found to contain vitamin E acetate.
“Patients or caregivers who have these affected medical marijuana products in their possession should return them to Plan B Wellness for proper disposal,” the MRA stated in a press release. “Plan B Wellness must notify patients or caregivers that purchased these medical marijuana products of the recall.”
The list of contaminated products include Savage Stick vape carts sold in October and November, and carts of Blackberry Kush, GG#4, and Runtz that were sold on January 16. Customers who find themselves suffering from lung problems after using these products are advised to seek immediate medical attention and to notify the MRA by email or phone.
Back in November, the MRA halted the sale of every single vaping product on the market in order to test these products for vitamin E additives. Many products passed the tests and were returned to the market, but on December 17, the state recalled nearly 65,000 vape carts for failing these tests. Several Savage brand products were included among this recall as well.
These contaminated products were able to make their way onto the market thanks to Michigan's rush to launch early sales of adult-use weed. In August, the MRA began allowing newly-licensed dispensaries to transfer existing, untested weed products into the state's cannabis sales system. These untested products were made legal for sale, so long as customers signed waivers acknowledging that they understood the risks of using untested products.
However, these sales began before the news of vaping-related lung illness (EVALI or VAPI) began to spread, so customers were unaware that the risks of vaping untested products could be life-threatening. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have now linked 2,668 cases of EVALI and 60 deaths to vaping products, although the number of new cases is now on the decline. In a recent report, the CDC reported that 82 percent of these cases involved the use of THC vapes.
The CDC suspects that vitamin E acetate may be one of the main factors responsible for this illness. The cutting agent is sometimes used to thicken lower-quality vaping oils, in order to pass them off as higher-quality products. At first, authorities believed that only black market vapes included this additive, but Michigan regulators are now finding that many legal products have vitamin E acetate in them, too.
A Colorado testing lab suggested that vitamin E can actually form naturally within cannabis, at levels that may not present a risk to users, which could explain the results of Michigan’s testing. It is currently unknown whether the producers of the recalled carts intentionally added vitamin E acetate to their products or not.