Illegal Vape Cartridges has the Cannabis Industry in its First Real Public Health Crisis.

Cannabis is reviled and prohibited according to the U.S. government. The government has told us it was a gateway drug, started the ‘war on drugs’, and committed many other pejorative acts. It’s in this regulatory environment that illegal vape cartridges have come to be.

Adult-use cannabis is still illegal in 39 States + territories. Medical use cannabis is still illegal in 17 States. Problems begin in the States where cannabis is not legal. In these States, consumers are buying their illegal vape pen cartridges in the black market. Obviously, illegal products are not tested for safety. Is the cannabis product you’re buying loaded with pesticides? Does it have fungus or mold? Are there little mites on the flowers? All States where cannabis is legal test for pesticides, fungus, purity and more. Testing offers a degree of “safety” for the consumer.

The Illegal Vape Cartridge

So What Happened?

In just a matter of a few weeks, hundreds have fallen to ‘vape lung’. Some bad players made some bad cartridges and/or used ingredients that are guaranteed to make people sick or potentially even kill them. Maybe these makers of illegal vapes didn’t know. There are still too many unknowns about these incidents, the numbers of which are mounting. Vitamin E acetate, which is harmless when ingested, apparently can be lethal if it’s vaporized and inhaled.

In many ways, this whole illegal vape cartridge situation is similar to the true bathtub gin made in the era of alcohol prohibition. Bathtub “gin” was frequently made with methyl alcohol. Alcoholic beverages use ethyl alcohol, which has many known side effects, but is legal. Methyl alcohol can kill you or make you blind.

Is the Legal Cannabis Industry Stepping Up?

As for the cannabis industry; the response has been to try to help find why these cartridges are making people sick or, as in some cases, killing them.

It’s in the best interests of legal makers of cannabis products get to the bottom of this terrible health crisis. And, they are stepping up to the plate. In some cases testing labs are performing tests for free. The government is talking about banning “flavored” e-cigarette vape pens or cartridges. (Like that’s going to solve the problem…How about banning Vitamin E in vape products.)

If cannabis were legal at the federal level, this whole health crisis could have been averted.

We would have mandatory testing for everything; flower, edibles, and extracts. (Extracts make up the liquid in CBD or THC vape cartridges.) Consumers deserve to know if these products are safe. Of course we might still have an illegal market place. But with regulations and mandatory testing everyone, in every State, would have safe and easy access to safe vape cartridges.

Cannabis must be either taken out of schedule 1, or removed entirely from the schedule, or made legal at the federal level. Until then, the States where cannabis is illegal are powerless to enforce anything but prohibition laws. And we all know how well that works.

Call your congressperson and tell them you support Marijuana 1-to-3 Act of 2019. We need to fully legalize cannabis at the Federal level, so all cannabis products are tested for safety.

Whatever you do, do not buy your vape cartridges from any place other than a legal cannabis dispensary.

Photo Credit: By Jeff Chiu/AP/Shutterstock

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