Dank Vape Cartridges: Vape Illness Culprit, or Scapegoat?

Recently, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report linking Dank Vapes with the rising instances of “vape illness”. The brand has seen a surge in popularity but it is not certified. 

The infiltration of unlicensed distributors in the industry has resulted in close scrutiny by CDC. Uncertified brands are common among street vendors and cannabis users, but most of these products are not tested for potency or purity.

According to an investigative report in Illinois and Wisconsin, 87% of the 86 subjects of the investigation indicated they had used Dank Vapes. The cartridges were prefilled and also obtained from unlicensed dispensaries. The investigations were conducted between July and September by a joint team from the two states.

Counterfeit, Fake and Unlicensed Vapes Penetrating the US Market

Initially, e-cigarettes were meant to help nicotine smokers kick the habit. However, owing to the attractive flavors and sleek devices, the lifestyle has infiltrated untargeted markets. Previously, Juul was the dominant brand in the vaping industry, but the latest findings show how unlicensed vapes like Dank have entered the market.

In August, Kenosha County Sheriffs nabbed Dank boxes and cartridges which they claim were ready for shipment. The report indicated that the company had been in existence for almost 2 years. Dank Vapes Instagram account is also verified which can even make consumers trust the Dank brand cartridges more easily. However, the distributor does not claim to sell the cartridges. 

The same cases of Dank cartridges in transit were reported in Minnesota and Ohio. By far, Dank Vapes seem like the primary culprit in the chain of counterfeit vapes. Because of the dynamics of the cannabis industry, the illness cannot be pointed specifically to the packaging, ingredients, products or the supply chain. Therefore, it is difficult for cannabis users to know just what is in the products they are using.

Why Dank Vape Cartridges Are Growing in Popularity

Introduced to the USA market in 2007, e-cigarettes gained popularity in 2014. Most users of e-cigarettes are attracted to the vapes because of the appealing flavors and innovation of sleek devices. 

Moreover, since the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill by Donald J. Trump, cannabis and not just hemp has grown in popularity across the USA and globally. As with any new market, some cannabis regulations are still vague. As such, there is a gap in the cannabis industry which, unfortunately, the black market is taking advantage of. That is why there has been a rise in illegal vaping products.

This is especially so in states where recreational marijuana is not legalized. It’s worth noting that the black market offers cheaper products, but compromises on industry standards. 

Health Implications

According to the CDC, 26 people have died from lung-related illnesses. The report also indicates that over 1200 people have reported lung injury associated with e-cigarettes. Most of these individuals indicated they had used THC-based cartridges. THC is the psychoactive compound that makes one high.

Though there is no certainty about the findings, there is a cause for alarm. Some users of vapes claimed to have used nicotine but it was found out they might be covering from using THC in states where it is still illegal. 

The doctors claim that the illnesses are life-threatening. The most common symptoms of infection are shortness of breath, coughing, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, tiredness, and chest pain.

Reported cases seem to have developed symptoms gradually and not suddenly before necessitating hospitalization.

Are There Harmful Ingredients in E-cigarettes?

The process of making an e-cigarette involves heating the ingredients to make an aerosol for inhaling. Most legal E-cigarettes contain nicotine and other ingredients including vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol and flavorings which are not harmful. Only nicotine is harmful. 

However, the production of street or black market e-cigarettes is not regulated. Therefore, it may contain modified and illegal substances. Street market e-cigarettes may contain harmful substances like heavy metals and cancer-causing compounds. To manufacture e-cigarettes, some street vendors normally modify previously used, single-use cartridges. They take the empty cartridges and fill them with illicit substances. The products may be taken through dabbing or dripping which usually results in high percentages of THC in their products which is a health hazard.

CDC Warns Against Using E-cigarettes

As the CDC and health officials in the USA try to establish the cause of the lung illness, they have asked e-cigarette users to be wary of street vaping products.

The CDC further asked users of e-cigarettes to monitor their health if they are using these products. They are to look out for symptoms related to lung disease including chest pains, shortness of breath and coughing and seek medical attention promptly incase of anything.

Although in the past E-cigarettes were popularly used by smokers trying to quit the habit, the products are not recommended anymore. In fact, the FDA does not approve of e-cigarettes as an aid to smoking.

E-cigarettes were a better option in comparison to cigarette smoking because they don’t have carcinogens like tar. That is why they were previously recommended as an aid to quit smoking. However, because manufacturers have to make them inhalable, some may contain unsafe solvents.

What Other Experts Are Saying About E-cigarettes

Dr. Gottlieb, a former commissioner of FDA notes that e-cigarettes are not new in the USA market. Since they have been there for a while, if they were harmful, this could have been noticed a while back when they were introduced in the market. He, therefore, suspects it to be something newly introduced into the market and most likely an illegal brand.

To state that e-cigarette use in the USA is an epidemic is an understatement. According to a study conducted in 2018 among middle and high school students in the USA, about 3.62 million students were using e-cigarettes.

As regulatory organizations and health experts try to find the cause or causes of the increase in lung illnesses, one thing is clear, better to be safe than sorry. Therefore, it is highly advisable to buy your e-cigarettes from trusted or licensed retailers. In addition, if you must use e-cigarettes, you should monitor your health and consult a doctor in case any symptoms associated with lung illness arise.