Experts and media have had it wrong from the start. The outbreak of a mysterious lung illness that began in the late summer of 2019 was blamed on e-cigs and vaping. The ensuing hysteria resulted in numerous bans and it is reported that people put down their e-cigs and went back to cigarettes. But blaming e-cigs was wrong. The cause of lung illness was not e-cigs, dab wax pens, or nicotine e-juice. Finally, the CDC is clarifying the real cause.
On Friday, December 20, the CDC updated the EVALI report. EVALI stands for ‘e-cigarette or vaping product use associated with lung injury.’ In short, the CDC has been trying to identify the specific cause of vape lung injury. Since the outbreak began, 2,506 people have been hospitalized across the country, 54 people have died. The CDC has traced the illness to Vitamin E acetate, which is most often found in black market THC oil. Vitamin E acetate, nor any oil for that matter, is used in e-cigarettes with nicotine. The problem is the black market THC oil.
The mysterious illness presents as a chest cold or digestive upset. Patients complain of coughing, chest pains, nausea, or vomiting. If you have used any THC or cannabis product and experience any of these symptoms afterward, it is imperative to seek medical help immediately. The disease progresses similar to lipoid pneumonia. Patients need aggressive treatment as quickly as possible. Long-term lung damage is possible.
How Black Market THC Oil Is Made
Black market THC oil is made in unsanitary conditions. Often in a basement or bathroom. Illicit THC oil is made with PVC pipe and lighter fluid. The process is filthy, unfiltered, and dangerous. Cannabis is stuffed into a PVC pipe and soaked in lighter fluid. The lighter fluid extracts the THC from the plant material. Plus, the lighter fluid leeches chemicals from the PVC pipe. The liquid is then collected and slowly heated to burn away the lighter fluid leaving THC in a liquid form.
The THC liquid is thin and drug dealers know that consumers prefer thick oils. Consequently, dealers add thickening agents to THC oil to give it the appearance of quality. One of those additives is vitamin E oil, which converts to a deadly vitamin E acetate when burned and ingested.
By contrast, cannabis oil sold by licensed dispensaries is made to a higher standard. Dispensary THC oil is made in a professional lab setting. That includes advanced filtration processes to screen out any potentially dangerous ingredients.
Who Sells Black Market THC Oil
Black market THC sellers are often the same person who sells weed. Familiar dealers and peers using social media platforms are common sources for black market THC. A Wisconsin drug dealer who was making as many as 5,000 illegal THC cartridges a day was recently arrested. Dealers cleverly package illegal THC oil to make it look like a commercially produced product.
Consumers take comfort in product packaging that appears to be commercial. Dealers can easily print packages and shrink wrap them to make it look like illegal THC oil cartridges are legitimate. It can be extremely difficult to tell the difference between a legal product made in a drug dealer’s basement.
How To Spot Illegal THC Oil
Spotting illegal and potentially dangerous THC oil requires consumers to be educated. Buying from a dispensary should bring some peace of mind but unfortunately, not all dispensaries are licensed. It is up to the consumer to do the background to determine illegal THC oil from a legitimate product.
- Never buy THC oil from a dealer no matter how much you think you can trust them.
- Before buying from a dispensary, check with the state licensing board to ensure that the dispensary is legitimately licensed.
- When purchasing a THC oil cartridge, look for a production date and lot number
- Call the manufacturer to verify the details
These steps may seem excessive, but they are necessary. While the number of lung illness cases are decreasing, they are still occurring.
Should You Avoid THC Oil Altogether?
Medical cannabis is legal in most states and recreational cannabis is legal in 11 states. That number is expected to grow. There may be benefits to using cannabis and the stigma of marijuana use has largely disappeared over the years. However, avoiding THC oil altogether may be a good idea at least for now. Vaporizing the dry herb may be the safest means. The jury is out and the science continues.
If you do choose to use a THC oil cartridge, please take precautions. The illegal products are still out there.