Reports of illnesses and deaths related to vaping nicotine and cannabis products have caused widespread panic and concern over the safety of vape products. However, regulated products don’t appear to be the issue, and banning regulated, tested products will make the problem even worse, according to experts at the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA).
NBC News released a report on Sept. 27 that links vape-related illnesses and deaths to unregulated, black market products. Laboratory tests by CannaSafe that were commissioned by NBC News determine that 10 out of 10 unregulated, untested products contained a pesticide, myclobutanil, which transforms into hydrogen cyanide when heated to 401 degrees Fahrenheit. Thirteen out of 15 black market products also tested contained vitamin E, which officials have speculated may be the solvent linked to the vape-related illnesses and deaths.
CannaSafe also determined that of three regulated, lab-tested products that were purchased at licensed dispensaries in California were found to have no pesticides, no heavy metals, and they did not contain additives like vitamin E. These tests point to a fact the cannabis industry has been expressing all along—regulating and testing cannabis products will only help increase public safety and help thwart the black market. Aaron Smith, executive director of the NCIA, further explained the position of the legal cannabis industry in a press release.
“This unfortunate situation continues to highlight the need to support state regulatory systems, as well as to deschedule and regulate cannabis products at the federal level,” said Smith. “It is increasingly clear that the root causes of these illnesses most likely lie in the illicit market. Banning regulated and quality-controlled vape products could very easily exacerbate this problem. Instead of stamping out the illicit market, preventing consumers from accessing reliable, tested products will drive many of them to purchase unregulated and potentially dangerous products instead, and the lack of competition from legal sources will only incentivize underground producers to increase production and cut more corners, possibly making their products even more deadly. Banning regulated products literally hands the vape market to the people most responsible for this widespread health problem on a silver platter.”
So far, approximately 12 people have passed away from lung illnesses that are linked to vaping, while 805 people have been hospitalized. The illnesses span 46 states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not singled out a specific product or substance as the culprit to these deaths and illnesses.