VAPI anniversary: Killer chemicals still on the streets | Leafly

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The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (responsible for overseeing marijuana) is banning additives in legal THC vape, such as artificial "grape ape" flavor. Prior to the action taken this month, reports found that 23 state residents were ill between June and December 2019, and 2 of them died due to nebulization-related lung injury (VAPI).

Oregon’s move is a reminder that one year after the first release of VAPI, the problem of contaminated vapes has not disappeared. Various chemical cutting agents can contaminate vape cartridges. The vast majority of them are on the illegal market without any testing. However, confirmed contaminated e-cigarettes have appeared in the legal states of Michigan and Oregon.

THC vapers in Oregon not only inhale flavors, but also inhale burning olive oil.

Some THC vapors in Oregon not only inhale flavoring agents, but also inhale the equivalent of burning olive oil (a substance called "squalene" that can cause lipid pneumonia). Evidence of squalene was found in four independent laboratory reports released at the OLCC technical expert consultation meeting on July 27.

Scientists at the FDA's Center for Forensic Chemistry have found squalene (which can also be derived from shark liver oil) in at least one legal cannabis product. The Centers for Disease Control tested another seven legal cannabis items related to VAPI cases and detected squalene in all seven.

In contrast, last year’s illegal THC vapor in New York consumed not one but two toxic oils-vitamin E acetate.

Squalene-According to a laboratory report submitted at the OLCC meeting.

A hospitalized VAPI patient holds a second-hand vape cartridge obtained from the illegal market. (Courtesy of Kyle DeGraw)

Left X-ray examination revealed that the sick lungs were cloudy, which was clearly visible after treatment in a suspected VAPI patient in Utah. (Polite University of Utah)

The list of adulterated products on the Oregon market is not limited to squalene. Experts told OLCC that by distributing artificial fragrances, THC dispersants may have been inhaling "a large number of dangerous compounds" not listed on the label. The ChemHistory and CannaSafe laboratories in Oregon tested five popular artificial flavors and found undisclosed safety hazards in them: vitamin E acetate and vitamin E, as well as MCT oil (coconut oil), squalene, and di-oil .

Oregon’s new regulations will prohibit any "inhalable cannabis products" containing substances of non-cannabis origin, including flavorings, non-cannabis terpenes, and/or chemicals that alter the "consistency, texture, or viscosity" of legal THC products.

The ban on non-cannabis ingredients appears to be passed later this month.

From 2019 to this year, Leafly investigated the problem of boiling, contaminated vape that has existed for ten years. The controversy finally ended in August 2019 and turned into a nationwide series of large-scale injuries-rather than "epidemics"-resulting in 68 deaths and 2803 illnesses.

Leafly finds negligent seller of vape additives

Enter the country

THC vape supply chain.

Our news team is called an industry expert, and then

. Our laboratory lists vitamin E acetate as the culprit in a cluster of toxins that harm the lungs of the United States. These toxins are still present in

, Although the efficiency is lower than in 2020.

The VAPI outbreak last summer was mainly due to illegal vape cart manufacturers seeking to reduce costs and increase profits through the use of thinner thinners that actually "thickened" the appearance of bullet oil-convince consumers to push The car contains more THC than it actually is.

But thickeners are not the only contaminants. Some cartridges contain artificial flavors that mimic the aroma molecules of cannabis, called terpenes. These pseudoterpenes usually give a fruity cobblestone, bubble gum or grape flavor.

On July 24, 2020, the Flavoring and Extract Manufacturers Association issued a statement stating that although edible flavorings are generally considered safe (GRAS), the implication that “safe to inhale” is “false and misleading”.

Flavoring manufacturers told Oregon that people should not smoke bubble gum flavor unless it is proven to be safe.

First, no food flavor test has been conducted in human lungs. They may contain impurities that are safe to eat, but they do not contain calories and odors such as squalene.

"We are worried that squalene is being detected, while other ingredients are being detected. Anthony Geltosky, policy analyst for the OLCC cannabis program, told Leafly that we are worried that third-party terpene sellers will cover up and hide harmful ingredients." The licensee in Oregon does not know. What's in third-party terpenes. "

Squalene is essentially a skin cream ingredient that is abused to reduce vape flavor or raw THC oil.

Squalene can also be extracted from olive oil, which allows third-party producers to label vegetable oils as "plant origin."

The manufacturer’s safety data sheet for squalene contains warnings prohibiting its breathing. The same data sheet recommends that anyone nearby wear a respirator when catching fire. Therefore, please consider what happens inside a vape pen that heats the oil to a few hundred degrees.

Squalene is related to exogenous lipid pneumonia-one of the many indicators of VAPI.

Patrick Trujillo, technical director of ChemHistory, told regulators that terpene manufacturers have been "sniffing" the substance in this fluid, clarifying, and smelly liquid. The manufacturer claims that the chemical composition of its mixture is "proprietary." , "Labs can only guess what is not listed on the label."

Therefore, ChemHistory in Milwaukee, Oregon, purchased five "commercially available products" from the Internet from sites commonly used by entertainment systems, Trujillo said.

Among the solutions listed as containing or mimicking the taste of myrcene, fruity pebbles and geraniol, Trujillo expected to find the "really annoying thing"-vitamin E.

ChemHistory and CannaSafe told OLCC that the composition of the commercially available Fruit Pebbles terpene mixture in the "danger zone" is unknown. (OLCC, 2020)

Bad company: a mysterious ingredient that looks like heavy oil in a commercial geraniol terpene bottle. (OLCC, 2020)

Instead, he found "unknown peaks" with disturbing characteristics. The solution only boils at high temperatures. They are heavy molecules that penetrate deep into the lungs and are located in the "danger zone" of the gas chromatograph, near MCT oil, vitamin E and squalene.

Trujillo said that some manufacturers of popular terpenes such as limonene and myrcene may claim that they are 99% pure, but 1% of them may contain various other substances.

Commercial terpenes ordered online contain things that are not terpenes and are related to lung damage. (OLCC, 2020)

The results of ChemHistory are consistent with our findings of the New York Department of Health, FDA Forensic Chemistry Center laboratory results and CDC, and deepen our understanding.

Now we know that drug dealers who cut cocaine with baby aspirin or heroin with fentanyl will cut THC vape oil with beard cream. This is a way to increase profits at the expense of customer safety.

In New York, state public health detectives took samples from VAPI victims and tested their disposable vape cartridges. Their report stated that when they found evidence of vitamin E, they were "aware of the knowledge of the Internet and the development of the online cannabis thinner industry, and they could buy a large amount of cannabis oil thinner."

Then, New York health officials purchased and tested six thinner thickeners from MassTerpenes, Floraplex's Uber Thick and Honey Cut. The report on July 23, 2020 stated: "It was found that three of the products were basically pure vitamin E acetate."

A slide from the New York Department of Health showed OLCC pictures of suspicious additives. (OLCC, 2020)

"[Vitamin E Acetate]-based thinners are touted as odorless and odorless thickeners that are miscible with various proportions of hemp oil and produce ideal clouds when they evaporate. By visual inspection, it is almost impossible Distinguish between cartridges filled with high-grade cannabis oil and cartridges that have been cut with [Vitamin E Acetate]." wrote Dr. David Spink, deputy director of NYDOH's Department of Environmental Health Sciences. .

The report pointed out: "It was found that the other two products are mainly squalane." "The other product is mainly α-bisabolol."

Lung and chemistry experts say these things are at least “probably bad” and may be “very toxic”.

Spink's team found a "strong association" between VAPI and the use of at least one cannabis vaporizer cartridge containing Vitamin E Acetate [VEA]. They concluded: "The characteristic of the illegal evaporator fluid related to the VAPI case is that it can dilute a large amount of diluent, the most important being VEA."

Rare, oily immune cells extracted from a VAPI patient in Utah (left). On the right are normal macrophages. (Provided by Andrew Hansen, Jordan Valley Medical Center)

In some cases, vape damage looks like lipoid pneumonia. In other cases, it may appear in the form of chemical burns.

Experts pointed out that lipoid pneumonia may be caused by oil-based substances such as mineral oil, squalene, petrolatum, olive oil, sunflower oil and liquid paraffin. New York reported that vitamin E acetate "has similar chemical and physical properties to compounds such as white mineral oil, which are known to cause lipoid pneumonia."

2020 FDA Research on Mice

Within two weeks, 30 animals were exposed to different aerosols or pure air, and then their lung tissues were examined. This laboratory study recreated the hallmarks of VAPI, such as lung lining damage, and immune cells are smoked by oil, called "lipophages."

Spink concluded: “VEA may be the cause of or play a role in the development of lipid pneumonia.” “There is no evidence that large amounts of inhaled compounds such as VEA are safe for human health. ."

The OLCC meeting report confirmed what Leafly published from August 2019 to February 2020-Vitamin E may be the culprit, but there are also

Or their heating by-products can harm the lungs with lower content and lower levels for a longer period of time.

All you need is 12 parts per million of the raw materials to produce lethal, slow-onset blisters in the lung tissue.

According to Dr. Ali Hamade, an epidemiologist in Oregon’s lieutenant state, and Dr. Robert Strongin, professor of chemistry at Portland State University, even a small amount of vitamin E can be heated to form a “drama”. Toxic" ethyl ketone. They told OLCC that ethylenedione is similar to the chemical warfare agents ketene and phosgene. All you need is 12 parts per million of raw materials to foam the deadly, slow-onset lung tissue.

The same is true for acetylene, because it is very reactive and therefore difficult to detect.

"You will never find it in [lung fluid], it will see its reaction first," Strongin said.

He said: "Ketene is a terrible thing," the "reasonable" ketene has hurt the unsuspecting whistleblower.

The absorption of vitamin E can catalyze the gas equivalent to mustard gas-melting the user's lung tissue in hours and days. (OLCC, 2020)

On the naughty list: the entire category of heavy oily cutting agents-MCT oil, rosin, endless changes. They are all used to secretly dilute crude THC oil or terpene mixtures.

PSU chemistry professor Strongin told OLCC that the legal cannabis industry and traditional cannabis culture generally resist the use of non-marijuana ingredients in cannabis products (especially inhaled cannabis products). On the contrary, e-cigarette manufacturers advocate the transfer of food flavors and cosmetics used on the stomach and skin to the lungs of millions of people.

"The last thing I want to do is to hurt anyone's industry or company," Sturgeon said. However, "there may be 10,000 products for different flavors or mixtures of the same chemical substance. Don't you think that ultimately because someone does not know the inhalation toxicity will lead to the possibility of someone making a formula that makes people really sick? This is A matter of time."

In contrast, "Cannabis has been smoking for thousands of years, but it was only recently that EVALI was known to happen. Why?" Sterling said.

Thanks to commercial terpene sellers, Dank Vapes, a toxic and illegal vape shopping cart brand, has many flavors. (David Downs / Leafly)

TJ Sheehy, OLCC's director of analysis and research, told Leafly that Oregon is moving at the fastest scientific speed to stop unlisted toxins. In 2019, when OLCC imposed an emergency ban, vape spice sellers challenged the move in court and won the injunction to end the ban.

Sheehy said the federal ban on marijuana has also slowed the process. Due to the legal problems in handling cannabis, few laboratories have been set up to study cannabis atomization, new additives, aerosol generation, lung deposition and pyrolysis by-products, especially highly volatile products such as ketene. by-product. Sheehy said: "I think everything is resolved from this main problem."

In response, OLCC hopes to strengthen the capacity of the state laboratory to better detect the next vitamin E or squalene.

CDC stopped tracking VAPI deaths in February because the coronavirus pandemic overshadowed the problem. But this summer there have been sporadic reports of vape injuries.

According to the Wall Street Journal’s August report, until Monday, anyone with a credit card and physical address can import up to $800 of vitamin E acetate cutting agent and counterfeit vape brand packaging from overseas sellers, without paying taxes, and Minimal files. 3. If you order on Sunday, you may sell toxic fake vape on social media before the middle of the month.

Store permission: Counterfeit empty vape cartridges imitate most mainstream legal brands. Leafly obtained this ad from a seller in the Los Angeles area in July 2020. (David Downs / Leafly)

Leafly still obtains fake packaged text messages every week in downtown Los Angeles, any of which may deceive consumers.

Sheehy said: "The nature of the problem is not a problem that can be solved by itself." "This is indeed a wreck. Once vitamin E is named and humiliated, it can be used for other purposes.

If consumers follow some rules of thumb, toxic adulterants can be avoided.

Avoid illegal THC vape completely. Online counterfeiting of popular brands is rampant, just because it looks like a vagrant. Your friend said he got it from a cousin, and that this cousin is in a legal state does not mean that it is actually a . The license number verified by the state government can only be purchased in a legal store and posted.

Buy a legal vape that only contains cannabis ingredients. Beware of suspicious and ambiguous ingredients, such as "natural flavors" or "terpenes of plant origin". What is it from? By whom? When? Who sells it? What is the purity?

Vapes are only a small part of the legal cannabis options. Quick-acting alternatives can include pumping conventional cannabis flowers in devices such as Pax 3, smoking in joints or pipes, or extracting bubble gum or rosin and other extracts, as well as food, beverages, topical drugs, als agents, transdermal drugs, etc.

Researchers suspect that rosin rosin can be used to cut crude THC distillate. Oregon hopes to go beyond dangerous new thinners. (OLCC, 2020)

David Downs serves as Director of's California Bureau, responsible for news and lifestyle reporting. He has written books for "Wired", "Rolling Stone" and "Billboard", is the former cannabis editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, and the author of several cannabis books, including Ed Rosenthal and David · "Cannabis Harvest" by Downs. He co-organized The Hash podcast. TW: @davidrdowns | IG @daviddowns

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