The CDC and Prevention finally acknowledged Friday that the most recent series of mysterious, fog-related lung diseases are mostly related to black-market cannabis products, not nicotine. The outbreak has baffled consumers, mainly because politicians have focused most of their attention on smoking nicotine. On September 4th Gov.
Gretchen Whitmer was the first to announce a ban on nicotine atomization while remaining silent on contaminated black market cannabis oil. Massachusetts and New York have followed their own e-cigarette bans.
This week’s cover story in the Metropolitan Times focuses on the dangers of illegal marijuana cartridges. On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that lung disease showed no signs of abating, sickening 806 people and killing 13 people in 46 states. Of the patients who reported what products they used, only 16 percent said they used only nicotine.
But health officials say the number could be lower because people are reluctant to use marijuana. The number of confirmed or probable cases in Michigan has nearly doubled in the past 10 days to 20, according to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, and another 10 are under investigation. State health officials told the Metropolitan Times that in most cases, patients reported using cannabis oil.
Despite its early links to marijuana, Michigan and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been reluctant to point out marijuana and have focused instead on nicotine, prompting criticism from many health experts.
While other states have issued warnings, Michigan has remained largely silent. “This confusion leads to bad public policy,” Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor of community health services at Boston University, told the Metropolis Times last week. “Instead of intervention to stop the distribution of the illegal black market THC vape smoke bombs filled with oil, policy makers have banned e-cigarettes filled with incense, which, as far as we know, have no obvious relationship with the outbreak.
Banning the use of these products will lead many former smokers to re-smoke and will create a new black market for flavored e-liquids. Worst of all, it will cause many young people to switch from e-cigarette-flavored e-liquids to cannabis, making the outbreak worse than it is now.
” A recent Morning Consult poll highlighted the confusion surrounding lung disease.
Fifty-eight percent of Americans surveyed said they believed nicotine is to blame, while only 34 percent say marijuana is to blame. Two years ago, marijuana vape ammunition boxes were only a small part of the market, according to New Frontier Data, an economic analysis firm that tracks the legal marijuana industry.
These cartridges are popular because they are cautious, cheap, easy to use and do not make the room smell. Up to 50 million cannabis cartridges may be contaminated with lead, pesticides, vitamin E acetate or residual solvent butane, according to leafly, a cannabis-specific website.
In a separate report released Friday, health officials found that two-thirds of the 86 patients interviewed in Illinois and Wisconsin said they had purchased cannabis cartridges from the black market before becoming ill. Most of the illicit cartridges are sold under the name “Dank Vapes,” a counterfeit brand found in cases in Michigan and New York.
Other brands include Off White, TKO and Moon Rocks. “Dank Vapes appears to be the most prominent of most counterfeit brands, with common packaging that is easily available online and used by distributors to sell THC-containing cartridges without the significant concentration of production or distribution,” the report said. “
The CDC has not identified a single product or substance that causes lung disease, but health experts are increasingly concerned about vitamin E acetate, a thickener used to dilute cannabis cartridges on the black market. Vitamin E, which was launched at the end of last year, has become a popular and relatively inexpensive method for illicit drug dealers to maximize profits by adding the compound to cannabis oil to maximize their profitability.
Vitamin E acetate and hemp oil look very similar, so it is difficult for consumers to detect cutting agents. Researchers at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found vitamin E acetate in samples collected from patients across the country. The state’s health department says the same compound has been found in almost all cannabis samples of New York patients who have been sick in recent weeks.
Vitamin E acetate was found in most samples tested by the CDC. News of lung disease has dampened sales of cartridges on the legal market. In the first week of September, nationwide sales fell 15%.
In Oregon, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Nevada and Montana, sales fell by more than a third in each state. It’s unclear whether sales at Michigan-approved dispensaries are falling because the state’s marijuana regulator (MRA) has refused to provide that information.
The Metropolitan Times has filed a Freedom of Information Act request ingress to show the robustness of the sale of marijuana. To allay fears, some pharmacies in other states are asking manufacturers to provide lists of their ingredients.
Some nationally recognized laboratories are voluntarily testing vitamin E acetate. In Michigan, all cannabis products sold at licensed setup centers must be tested for pesticides, toxic metals, bacteria and solvent residues in extraction methods.
But, like other regulated states in the cannabis industry, MRA does not need to be tested for vitamin E acetate, nor does it need to be disclosed by a vape barrel manufacturer. In Oregon and New York, dispensaries are now being asked to issue warnings about the potential harm of vape cartridges.
In Massachusetts, cartridge manufacturers will soon have to list ingredients used in their products.
The Oregon Liquor Control Board also encourages pharmacies to remove any potentially problematic cartridges from their shelves and to offer returns of e-cigarette products previously sold. Massachusetts bans nicotine and marijuana atomization products, and California urges people not to buy them.
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