Last year, a lot of the good news about cannabis legalization was under a cloud—no, not the good kind—because of the mysterious illnesses (and even deaths) linked to vaping. For a hot second, it seemed like all vape products were under suspicion, which was a serious bummer for people who love vaping (that’s us).
As of the fall of 2019, the FDA thinks it found the cause. And as you might expect, it makes it clearer than ever that you shouldn’t buy black-market vape cartridges, no matter how much dough you think you’re saving. Turns out a two-week hospital visit costs a whole lot more than a vape cartridge. Here’s the scoop.
Vape Cartridges: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Off the Street
Back in late 2019, the FDA advised people to stop using all vape cartridges bought on the black market, as well as all vape cartridges containing THC. No offense, but hold up a second: While most (but not all) of the vaping illnesses were linked to cartridges containing THC, there’s no evidence that THC is actually what’s making people sick.
And in case you forgot, THC is still a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law. So you could argue that the Feds were simply taking advantage of a truly frightening public health crisis to try and scare people off perfectly clean weed. Thanks, Uncle Sam.
What seems to be the actual culprit is an additive in black-market vape cartridges: Tocopheryl-acetate, aka “Vitamin E oil.” While it’s not dangerous on its own, it definitely doesn’t belong in our lungs. Why was it added? The usual reason: To try to thin out a counterfeit product without tipping people off.
You feel us yet? Even if buying black-market vape cartridges saves you some upfront bucks, it is Just. Not. Worth. It. Here’s what we’re talking about.
How to Spot a Fake Cart
Easier said than done. Counterfeiters are pretty crafty at branding black-market vape cartridges to look legit. But here are some tips:
- Price: If you’re buying a vape cartridge from what appears to be a legit dispensary and the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Beware of “crazy discounts” and impossible “special offers.”
- “Open-Box” Specials: Never buy a vape cartridge without its original packaging. All legal cannabis products are tested and labeled to comply with the law, but it’s almost impossible to identify a product without its original box.
- Only Buy From a Licensed Dispensary: We seriously can’t say this enough. Buying from a legit dispensary—like this one—is your best defense against putting yourself in the hospital, or worse.
If you have a loose vape cartridge, do a web search for the manufacturer’s website. Hopefully, it will point you to important details, like “Is there a serial number or code?” or “Does the logo look wrong?” Exercise caution and good judgment.
And only buy your vapes from a licensed dispensary. You can grab lab-tested vape cartridges from our licensed Perris dispensary. And if you want help decoding the results on the label, just ask one of our friendly cannabis consultants.