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  • Alec Chenkus

Opinion on Ban of Concentrated Vape Cartridges

Updated: Dec 7, 2022

The recent news of individuals becoming sick - with up to 18 deaths reported by the CDC - from black market THC cartridges has caused widespread concern and a whirlwind of legislative response. In states across the country, legislators have begun a push to restrict or outright ban vaping and vaping related products as a precaution.

While banning vaping products based on the recent adverse reports would seem logical while further investigations are conducted to better understand the adverse ingredient(s) that have been used in black market concentrated vape cartridges, banning these cartridges from legal markets could be a slippery slope.

If there is one thing that the War on Drugs has taught us: prohibition leads to a thriving black market, which is where these tainted cartridges came from in the first place. An outright ban on vaping products, including THC and cannabis-derived products from state-licensed entities, would create an opening for the black market to pounce on.

While licensed processors and dispensaries have the liability involved in a legal market with regards to the products they sell, black market operators are generally only concerned with their bottom line and increasing profits. Allowing the black market to operate without competition would simply lead to an increase in the production of black market vape cartridges, which could lead to a surge of contaminated cartridges being pushed by black market operators.

Standard Wellness Concentrated Vape Cartridge
Lab-Tested Concentrated Vape Cartridge from Ohio Processor Standard Wellness

The introduction of concentrated vape cartridges in Ohio's medical marijuana market occurred recently, and this was met with relief and excitement as patients finally had a trustworthy source where they could buy this product. To take this option away from patients would likely lead to an increase in black market vape cartridge purchases, which would lead to an increased cause for concern considering the frequency of negative news stories concerning these products right now.

It is important to put the timeline of these sicknesses in context, as many individuals have just recently learned about concentrated vape cartridges in the past couple of years. For this reason, it seems as though these sicknesses and deaths are a by-product of a brand new cannabis product becoming available; however, it has been nearly 7 years since the first concentrated vape cartridge was introduced into a legal cannabis market. For over 7 years, there were no adverse findings related to the reports that have recently popped up, which brings the question, why now?

One of the leading culprits behind this "epidemic" is a street brand called "Dank Vapes." Dank Vapes became popular in 2017-2018 due to the low pricing of the carts - they sold for nearly 3 times less than licensed and tested cannabis products in California. While Dank Vapes had the packaging to look legitimate, Dank Vapes has no license in any operational state to process cannabis products. In fact, there is no such brand as "Dank Vapes," they are simply a packaging brand that can be purchased for extremely cheap online. And Dank Vapes is by no mean the only culprit, as there are a wide range of different "brands" such as "Exotic Carts" or "Mario Carts" that have sprung up in recent years specific to the black market.

This means that any Dank Vape cartridge or other non-licensed brands you find will have been produced from an unlicensed processing lab, most often a black market operator. Without lab testing results, that cartridge may have been bad quality to start with, and is often cut with an additive that has unknown or negative health implications. Additionally, there are concerns based on tested black-market cartridges that the products often contain pesticides, heavy metals, or other dangerous contaminants. The prevailing theory behind the current outbreak of adverse effects has been narrowed down to a cut called Vitamin E Acetate, a compound that becomes hazardous when inhaled.

According to Ron Gershoni, co-founder of vape product Jetty Extracts who sits on the board of the California Cannabis Manufacturers Association told The Akron Beacon Journal:

They “essentially sell empty packaging, and anyone can fill it,” he said. “It’s a business model that made sense. Anybody who wanted to make a buck.”

If legislators really want to fix this problem, the solution is looking them right in the face: invest more resources to allow the medical marijuana program in Ohio to flourish, expand the conditions so that more qualifying patients can obtain safe and lab-tested cannabis products, and help the medical cannabis community in widespread education concerning black market cannabis products.

As stated above, there are currently 3 processors in Ohio that are manufacturing lab-tested concentrated vape cartridges: Standard Wellness, Firelands Scientific, and Cure Ohio. All of these vape cartridges have passed lab testing, with every ingredient used being identified and labeled clearly for transparency. You can feel confident when purchasing medical cannabis from an Ohio dispensary that you can safely utilize that product without concerns for adverse effects. There has not been a single adverse response from an Ohio cannabis product sold in licensed dispensaries, and the Ohio Board of Pharmacy is keeping a close eye on the progression of the investigations concerning cartridges.

If you do have any concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to the MMCP Toll-Free Helpline at (833-464-6627).

Firelands Scientific Concentrated Vape Cartridge
Lab-Tested Concentrated Vape Cartridge from Ohio Processor Firelands Scientific


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If you are an Ohioan suffering from one of these 21 medical conditions you may be eligible to treat your ailment with medical marijuana, which includes both THC and CBD products.

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