Vape sales continued to drop as fallout from the vaping related illness rippled across the cannabis industry and beyond. Doctors have not yet identified a cause of the pulmonary condition which has sickened more than 800 Americans and killed at least 12, but investigators are increasingly focussed on cartridges containing THC.
AP, Business Insider

Cannabis industry leaders and lobbyists are scrambling to associate the disease with hardware and chemicals used by unlicensed manufacturers rather than THC. Some are circulating this NBC News story in which journalists commissioned tests of three licensed California cartridges and 15 unlicensed cartridges at testing lab CannaSafe.

Of the three legal cartridges, none contained vitamin E oil, the substance most mentioned in association with the illness. Of the unlicensed carts, 13 out of 15 contained vitamin E.

  • The lab also tested 10 of the illegal carts for pesticides and found all 10 tested positive for myclobutanil, a fungicide which can become highly toxic hydrogen cyanide when heated.
  • In a fascinating and deeply reported story, Leafly tracks vape carts from China to the wholesale market in downtown L.A. to a patient who nearly died in New York City. The story makes clear that worrisome hardware and chemicals are finding their way into legal supply chains.
  • According to the CDC, no single product or substance has been linked to all the cases though 77% of patients acknowledged using THC vapes and only 16% said they only used nicotine vapes.
  • The illness does not yet have an official name, though some are calling the condition Vaping Associated Pulmonary Illness, or VAPI.
  • Data firm Headset (a WeedWeek advertiser) says vapes’ share of the cannabis market dropped from roughly 25% to 20% between early August and late September across four Western REC states.
  • I wrote a short piece on the situation for the Guardian.

Thus far no licensed brand has been officially linked to the disease. But a Washington state lawsuit filed by a recovering VAPI patient has names a distributor of Chinese made pens and batteries and five cartridge manufacturers.
Seattle Times

As Siva Enterprises CEO Avis Bulbulyan said at WeedWeek Recharge, product safety issues, and not just for vapes, could dog the cannabis industry for the foreseeable future.

E-cigarette market leader Juul‘s products have not been connected to the illness, but CEO Kevin Burns is out amid the possibility of a nationwide ban on many Juul products. Tobacco giants Altria and Philip Morris International also called off merger talks. Altria has a 35% stake in Juul.