Is counterfeit THC killing the industry?
The New York Times reports 153 cases of “vaping related sickness” in 16 states. Previously, we’ve reported lung illness cases following the consumption of counterfeit e-liquid, primarily of THC. As a quick refresher, according to Livescience.com, “THC is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects.”
Vaping is known for being a discreet and convenient way to consume THC. Users prefer vaping the oil instead of traditional smoking because smoking marijuana, in its traditional form, allows smoke and carcinogens into their lungs. Thus, THC vaping – the safer alternative.
That is the good angle of the story. The bad news is, people are producing home-made THC oils (and other e-liquids) and selling them at a cheaper price. This leads users to purchase from clandestine vendors instead of a proper and licensed seller. There are also reports of watered-down e-liquids, too, which could be causing harm.
In other words, THC is relatively harmless but counterfeit THC can cause a host of side-effects – including severe lung illness. The New York Times reports a whopping 153 cases of “vaping related” illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the same, also “linked to vaping.”
NBCnews.com contributor Erika Edwards writes, “the only thing linking the cases is that the patients all reported using vaping products that contain either nicotine or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.” Edwards makes an excellent distinction here.
It’s important to distinguish what is the potential root cause before glooping “all vapers” into the same bucket. Not all vapers smoke THC, and most vapers do not purchase from a stranger. There are many reputable stores that follow the proper guidelines.
Why is this alarming?
A ban on e-cigarettes has been approved in the City of Cudahy, California. They’ve banned the entire hobby and ruined many users’ possibility of quitting smoking (those who were using it for that purpose).
Journal Sentinel author Erik S. Hanley writes, “Following reports of vaping-related hospitalizations, Cudahy has passed an ordinance banning all electronic smoking devices in places where state law currently bans smoking.”
Cudahy’s statement makes a very common assumption, “electronic smoking devices may lead youth to try other tobacco products.” If that is the case, they should ban it in high-schools and not for everyone else. The libertarian notion that we are free to choose what we do with ourselves applies here. Some vape as a smoking cessation tool, and others because they enjoy the hobby itself.
This is like banning tacos from all restaurants because a handful people got food poisoning from buying a few tacos from an unlicensed vendor. Getting their stomach pumped doesn’t sound like a spa treatment, and sure, it’s awful, but banning all tacos from all restaurants? Wouldn’t make sense.
The dramatic telling of the patients stumbling into the hospital with full respiratory collapse and whatnot paints a bad picture for vaping. It’s unfortunate that the patients had to endure that type of pain, but the media is linking the drama with vaping simply by saying “linked to vaping,” ignoring other causal factors.
This is a pernicious practice. Vaping has been around since the early 2000s, and those 153 cases of “vaping related illnesses” became public only this last month. If vaping was this dangerous, wouldn’t we have 153 cases of lung collapse every month since early 2000?
But I digress. The only word of advice I can give you: Do not buy clandestine e-liquids or THC oils.