Cyanide detected in black market vape pens evidence of overreaction to problem

(FILE PHOTO by Getty)

Despite the Trump administration’s war on vapes, three pieces of glaring evidence suggest that the only vapes actually harming Americans are illegally sold, black market ones that contain THC.

Exhibit A:

The first piece of evidence is a test of legal and black market vapes conducted by NBC News.

“NBC News commissioned one of the nation’s leading cannabis testing facilities to test a sampling of THC cartridges — 18 in all — obtained from legal dispensaries and unlicensed dealers,” the outlet reported on Friday. “The findings were deeply troubling.”

While the legal THC cartridges contained “no heavy metals, pesticides or residual solvents like Vitamin E,” the majority of the black market material featured a bevy of harmful substances.

Thirteen out of 15 of the black market ones contained Vitamin E acetate, which, though safe when ingested or applied to skin, is potentially hazardous when inhaled.

Ten contained pesticides, which are bad for obvious reasons, and every single cartridge contained myclobutanil, “a fungicide that can transform into hydrogen cyanide when burned,” according to NBC.

“You certainly don’t want to be smoking cyanide,” Antonio Frazier, the vice president of operations at CannaSafe, the company hired to test the products, said. “I don’t think anyone would buy a cart that was labeled hydrogen cyanide on it.”

No kidding …

Exhibit B:

The second piece of evidence was unveiled during a Friday press briefing by state investigators in Illinois and Wisconsin, two states that have been beset by an outbreak of vaping-linked illnesses.

“Investigators in these two states conducted detailed interviews with 86 patients — mostly young men — and 66% said they had vaped THC products labeled as Dank Vapes. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis,” NPR reported.

“Dank Vapes appears to be the most prominent in a class of largely counterfeit brands, with common packaging that is easily available online and that is used by distributors to market THC-containing cartridges with no obvious centralized production or distribution,” a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report published by the investigators reads.

“THC-based products were most often acquired from informal sources such as down the street from friends or from a dealer,” one of the investigators said at Friday’s briefing.

This contrasts with regular vapes, i.e., those containing nicotine. Since nicotine is legal, Americans may purchase a regular vape (or “e-cigarette”) from a litany of legitimate suppliers.

Nevertheless, the Trump administration is reportedly urging Americans to abstain from using any sort of e-cigarette product, regardless of its legality and source.

“CDC recommends people consider refraining from using e-cigarette, or vaping, products, particularly those containing THC,” a CDC official reportedly said during the briefing.

Exhibit C:

During the briefing, state investigators admitted that most of the ill e-cigarette users they’d spoken with had used THC cartridges, not standard nicotine cartridges.

“The vast majority reported using illicit products containing THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana. The products were sold as prefilled vape cartridges — tiny disposable containers — and obtained from informal sources,” The Washington Post has confirmed.

This matters greatly because of the the fact that efforts by both state legislators and the Trump administration to ban either flavored e-cigarette products or all e-cigarettes altogether will — much like the gun laws proposed by congressional Democrats — affect law-abiding Americans.

And not just law-abiding Americans, but primarily those law-abiding Americans who have successfully used nicotine e-cigarettes to quit smoking conventional tobacco cigarettes.

A study cited by The New York Times last year found that of the estimated 10.8 million American adults vaping e-cigarettes, 30.4 percent were former smokers, while 54.6 percent were smokers who were presumably in the process of quitting.

Another study, this one shared by Newsweek back in 2014, found that nicotine e-cigarette users were 60 percent more likely to quit smoking conventional cigarettes than those who attempt to quit by going cold turkey.

Despite this data, the Trump administration has not yet demurred in its war on vapes. President Donald Trump has however made it clear that he recognizes “the Vaping alternative to Cigarettes” and is primarily interesting in removing counterfeits from the market and keeping children safe.

Vivek Saxena

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