Ohio Bans Vitamin E Acetate in Response to Black Market Outbreak
Updated: Nov 20, 2019
There has been a rush by public health officials, experts, and researchers to understand the ingredient that has caused a number of adverse sicknesses across the country as a result of vaping e-cigarettes and black market THC cartridges.
While New York officials first suspected vitamin E acetate as the offending compound, it wasn't until last Friday that the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention officially announced the link between vitamin E acetate and the lung illnesses; although the CDC has not ruled out other compounds that may be causing the illnesses.
What is Vitamin E Acetate?
Vitamin E acetate is a vitamin often found in many foods, including vegetable oils, cereals, meat, fruits, and vegetables. It is also available as a dietary supplement and in many cosmetic products. Vitamin E acetate usually does not cause harm when ingested as a vitamin supplement or applied to the skin, however, the CDC's research suggests when vitamin E acetate is inhaled it can interfere with normal lung function. Vitamin E acetate has begun to be introduced in the black market to vaping products as a thickening agent to make the product appear higher-quality than it really is.
According to the CDC's statement, "Recent CDC laboratory testing of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid samples (or samples of fluid collected from the lungs) from 29 patients with EVALI submitted to CDC from 10 states found vitamin E acetate in all of the BAL fluid samples. Vitamin E acetate is used as an additive in the production of e-cigarette or vaping products. This is the first time that we have detected a potential chemical of concern in biologic samples from patients with these lung injuries."
Furthermore, THC was identified in 82% of the samples, while nicotine (e-cigarette) was identified in 62% of the samples. The CDC also conducted tests for a range of other chemicals, including plant oils, petroleum distillates like mineral oil, MCT oil, and terpenes, however none of these potential "chemicals of concern" were detected in the BAL fluid samples tested.
What About Ohio's Medical Marijuana Program?
Immediately after the CDC released its findings on vitamin E acetate, the Ohio Department of Commerce officially banned the compound within the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (OMMCP). Prior to the ban, processors across Ohio pledged increased transparency regarding the ingredients used in their respective concentrated cannabis cartridges.
According to Jackie Borchardt at the Cincinnati Enquirer, none of Ohio's licensed processors use vitamin E acetate in vape products. While there were 52 cases of the lung illness found in Ohio, none of these cases involved a cannabis product purchased at a licensed Ohio dispensary.
Ohio cannabis processors that we have spoken with are well aware that vitamin E acetate has been the leading candidate causing these illnesses, and have been closely paying attention to the research coming out from the CDC and other public health officials. Specifically, with regards to concentrated vape cartridges in the OMMCP, nearly all of the processors use only cannabis-derived terpenes and cannabinoids, often using the terpenes or CBD to stay within the 70% THC limit for concentrates in Ohio. At the time of this writing, Cure Ohio is the only processor that states they are using botanically-derived terpenes, although we have not been able to connect with Cure Ohio to inquire further.
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