Lead image via
A 26-year-old from Burlington, Wisconsin was hospitalized with critical lung damage last week after consuming a counterfeit “Dank Vapes” cannabis cartridge.
According to Fox 6 News, the unnamed man was assumed to be suffering from pneumonia when he arrived at the hospital late last week, before his condition worsened rapidly and doctors induced a coma.
"These street vapes are very, very dangerous,” Patrick DeGrave, the victim’s brother, told Fox 6. “My brother nearly lost his life. The trauma that he caused to his lungs is significant, the trauma that he caused to his heart is significant."
God Bless this Poor kid hoping he pulls thru and gets healthy. Stop smoking vape https://t.co/VgFt3A6Y6t— David Wright (@babyboy110284) July 26, 2019
And while the vape cart that DeGrave’s brother consumed was packaged in a Dank Vape box that advertised a “Rose Gold” strain and an astronomically high THC percentage, the product that DeGrave showed reporters did not come from a licensed cannabis company. If anything, it could have contained any number of substances, including pesticide-tainted THC oil, synthetic cannabinoids, or something entirely different.
"He has some pretty bad lung damage," DeGrave said. "He was not breathing on his own at all yesterday. His heart was weak. They weren’t sure he was going to make it."
Related: Here's What Fake Vape Cartridges Look Like
As black market vape cartridge dealers continue to utilize indiscriminate overseas hardware and packaging suppliers, illicit cannabis markets have been flooded with fake cartridges packaged as Dank Vapes, Exotic Vapes, Mario Carts, Cereal Carts, and a handful of other familiar brand names. Since anyone can purchase empty cartridges and cardboard boxes for pennies on the dollar, there is no telling what kind of oil is actually inside these cartridges once they reach the final consumer.
"These vapes can cost you your life," DeGrave said.
In addition, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is reporting that eight teenagers in nearby Waukesha and Winnebago counties have also been hospitalized with vape-related ailments. Doctors did not mention any specific products causing the illnesses, and said that some of the teens were sent home quickly after responding well to steroid treatment. However, they did note that some of the teens said they had vaped THC cartridges.
"We have a common theme of vaping," Jonathan Meiman, chief medical officer with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, told the Journal-Sentinel. "We do not know of one product” causing the damage.
As vape cartridges continue to gain popularity in both legal and illicit cannabis markets, black market manufacturers and dealers continue to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. These carts contain unknown mystery oils disguised in professionally-made packaging. But whether its low levels of THC or potentially dangerous chemicals, those carts can be incredibly deceiving, and leave users with more than just a buzz.
Follow Zach Harris on Twitter