The dangerous substance vitamin E acetate may be present in over half of all THC capsules used for vejpning cannabis on the US market. This is reported by the online magazine vaping360 on Wednesday.
More and more evidence now suggests that it is precisely this additive, often used to dilute the cannabis flavour in e-juice, that is the real cause of over 400 acute cases of cancer. lipid pneumonia that has hit the US, with 5 confirmed deaths so far.
Although the data has not yet been confirmed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), its sister organisation Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clarified that the acute lung injuries were most likely caused by vejpers who used THC juice containing high amounts of vitamin E acetate.
Vitamin E acetate, or tocopherol acetate by its chemical name, was originally developed for use in soap and make-up products. More recently, however, it has become popular with companies producing THC-containing e-juices. The reason is its high viscosity and ability to dilute THC extracts without making the e-juice too thin. The market for cannabis and THC has exploded in some states where cannabis can be sold openly and legally, while the black market has grown in states where cannabis is illegal to sell. Most popular are pre-filled tanks/pods that attach to a small separate battery. The THC juice is heated in the same way as a regular e-cigarette.
Vitamin E is harmless to ingest, but when heated (such as when used in an e-cigarette) it forms an oil-like substance. When cooled, this substance can clog pores in the lungs and cause acute inflammation.
Manufacturers of vitamin E products tell the magazine Leafy the substance is used in nearly 60 per cent of all THC/cannabis e-juice in the US.
In the light of the FDA's statement on the cause of the deaths and illnesses, leading health researchers are now criticising the CDC for misleading e-cigarette users in the country. Professor Michael Siegel of Boston University argues that the CDC's apparent willingness to discourage vejping in general instead of warning about e-juice with THC not only harms public health, but also puts more people at risk.
- The authority's responsibility is to protect the population. When they are not clear and point to the likely cause of the outbreaks, they send the message that it is only dangerous to use e-cigarettes with nicotine. They don't touch THC capsules, so people assume that they are perfectly safe to use," Mr Siegel told the online publication. RegWatch.
He also believes that the agency's approach to the outbreak is preventing doctors in the country from looking for the right things in their examinations of affected patients.
- We should not assume that young patients who have used drugs will tell us this on their own. The simplest thing to do is to test all patients with symptoms for THC. But the CDC does not recommend that doctors, who must follow their guidelines, do this. That way, this outbreak will continue to be about regular e-cigarettes instead of vejping with THC. The media and the public will get the wrong idea about this and the consequences will be enormous," says Mr Siegel.