Up to the writing of this article, there have been 17 confirmed deaths and 805 cases of lung injury that are linked to vaping. Because the exact cause of the outbreak remains a mystery, health officials urge the public to refrain from using any e-cigarette or vape product until they can zero in on the culprit.
However, some experts say that they have already identified the source. After running tests on over 100 samples, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released their findings, stating that the focus of their investigation was now on Vitamin E acetate, which was likely being used as a thickening agent in “homemade” THC cartridges.
And in New York, Howard Zucker, State Health Commissioner, also released a statement about the Vitamin E acetate that was present in "nearly all cannabis-containing samples." While not clarified, experts believe that the Vitamin E acetate was used to emulsify CBD and THC in illegal vaping devices, likely purchased from the black market.
In California, the CannaSafe company conducted its own tests on samples from black market THC cartridges. Their analyses revealed that Vitamin E was present in 13 out of the 15 samples. But what is Vitamin E acetate, and why is it believed to be behind the vaping-related deaths and illnesses?
Vitamin E Acetate’s Role in Vaping-Related Deaths and Illnesses
Vitamin E acetate is known as tocopheryl acetate or tocopherol acetate. Known for its antioxidant properties, Vitamin E acetate is used in skin care products and dietary supplements. However, black market sellers discovered they could cover up low quality THC oil by using Vitamin E acetate to thicken solutions. However, Vitamin E acetate should never be inhaled as it will cause damage to the lungs.
Honey Cut is one of the three companies that the Department of Health has on its radar for selling vape products containing Vitamin E acetate. Honey Cut, along with Mass Terpenes and Pure Diluent, have received subpoenas.
Honey Cut was one of the first to sell diluting agents and quickly gained a reputation for helping thicken bootleg vape juices to make them look more legitimate. Because of its color and consistency, it could easily pass as real cannabis oil. The product label even boasts that it contains no VG, no PG, and no MCT – essentially, it’s pure Vitamin E acetate.
MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides. In the past, MCT oil and polyethylene glycol were used as cutting agents; however, the result was a thinner, runny product that consumers associated with low quality. MCT has also been associated with pneumonia cases in those who vape too much with MCT oil.
Long before the “vaping-related illness” outbreak, government agencies already knew the vaping black market was on the rise and carried the potential of making a lot of people sick with knock-off products that contained questionable ingredients.
It’s unfortunate that legally-operating and regulated vape manufacturers and CBD products are now suffering from the public outrage – especially since there are no vaping-related illnesses linked to medical cannabis or recreational marijuana from legal state-licensed establishments. While the investigation is ongoing, the problem is clearly rooted in the black market.
At Urth CBD, we are completely transparent about our ingredients and lab tests. All of our products are tested by certified third party testing facilities and meet all FDA compliance regulations to bring you the highest quality products possible. We’ve also recently included a new lab test to detect Vitamin E acetate.