Dear Stoner: With all these reports of toxic vape cartridges, am I safe if I’m buying marijuana vape cartridges? Are the problems only from a certain kind, or from black-market products? And if I’m not safe with vaping, how else can I discreetly consume in public?
Dear Scared: Vaping isn't just dangerous for your dignity. Recent reports point to serious health issues resulting from long-term vaping, and hospital visits and even deaths linked to respiratory illnesses tied to vaping are starting to scare the shit out of millions of nicotine and cannabis vape users nationwide. Even scarier for cannabis consumers is that several of the deaths have been tied to black-market THC oil cartridges, with another death reportedly connected to a THC oil-vaping product from a licensed dispensary in Oregon. This month, the State of New York subpoenaed three vape companies and requested that they assist a Food and Drug Administration investigation into the issue: Massachusetts-based Mass Terpenes, California-based Honey Cut and Michigan-based Floraplex Terpenes.
There haven't been any reported respiratory illnesses linked to THC or CBD vape products in Colorado yet (although a handful linked to e-cigarettes have been reported), and as of mid-September, the state Marijuana Enforcement Division hadn’t issued any warnings or public announcements to dispensaries selling vaping products. In fact, we haven't seen any kind of dispensary warning about potentially dangerous vape products, and none of the public-health reports we've read have mentioned CBD cartridges.
While hash cartridges filled with pure cannabis oil (no additives) are likely much safer for consumption, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has warned against purchasing all vape products, including those involving cannabis. Some reports point to vitamin E oil, a thickening additive usually found in black market vaping products, as the culprit causing some of these illnesses; the CDPHE says it’s treating that as a lead but not necessarily the answer.
Representatives of Colorado's pot industry say that state regulations ensure that cannabis companies don’t add vitamin E or other dangerous additives to their vape products. Still, readers are worried.
If all of these recent reports have scared you off vaping, you could try edibles or tinctures as a way to stay medicated in public or throughout the day without stinking up your clothes. You could also go back to dabbing pens, which come with a heating chamber for small balls of concentrate and dabs of oil. They're almost as discreet as pre-filled hash vapes, but the smell sure isn't.
Send questions to email@example.com.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.