The unregulated cannabis vape market is posing serious health issues across the country. As of Friday morning, US officials from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported around 450 possible cases of severe lung disease and five fatalities that could be caused by vaping in at least 33 states.

According to reports, the ongoing investigation has not identified any specific substance or e-cigarette product linked to all cases. Many patients have reported using both e-cigarette products and THC vape products, with a majority purchased from black market vendors. Results from several samples have found Vitamin E acetate in multiple vapes that were collected. However, the findings were not significant enough to link the ingredient as the primary cause. 

 FDA spokesperson, Michael Felberbaum, spoke Thursday and said, “No one substance, including Vitamin E acetate, has been identified in all of the samples tested.” He added, “Importantly, identifying any compounds that are present in the samples will be one piece of the puzzle but will not necessarily answer questions about causality.” 

For cannabis vape users, this increases the importance of buying products from legal sources. 

Steps Users Can Take to Ensure They Are Buying Safe Products

1. Only purchase products sold by state-licensed, compliant businesses. 

The main reason for the surge in these vape related illnesses is due to the unregulated black market. Since they are illegal, there is no way for these black market vendors to test their products for unsafe contaminants. It is crucial to buy products that are sold by compliant, licensed shops because the state regulates them, ensuring certified, licensed labs test their products and hold them to specific health and safety standards. Users can verify if a shop has a license by visiting the state government's official website

 2. Look for vapes that do not contain any cutting agents. 

To increase the viscosity or volume of their oil, some companies will add cutting agents such as propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), polyethylene glycol (PEG), and even Vitamin E oil, to their products. Although the FDA recognizes these agents as generally safe for humans to consume, it does not necessarily mean they are safe for consumption by inhalation. As health experts explain, this is because unlike the human digestive tract, which can break down and get rid of foreign substances, the lungs are not designed to handle anything except gases.

Bloom does not add any cutting agents or fillers to our oil; the only ingredients in our vapes are cannabis and terpenes. To find other reliable brands that do not add cutting agents, be sure to ask them or check their official website for an ingredient list. If one is not available online, test results and COA’s for each product are available upon request in all compliant, state-licensed shops. 

3. Stick with reliable brands. 

The cannabis industry is growing at a rapid pace, with new companies popping up each week--but that does not mean all are reputable brands. Do the research and stick to brands that have been around for a few years and have their license. Legitimate brands are more likely to be aware of the laws and regulations within the industry. 

It is also essential to find out what kind of hardware the brand uses. Some companies will cut corners and buy cheap hardware that can lead to other issues like metal contaminants in their products. Look for vapes that use quality hardware made from manufacturers like CCELL, who have been around for 12 years and are considered industry leaders. Bloom and many other reputable brands use CCELL hardware, which can be verified for authenticity by checking the bottom of the cartridge for engraving. 

Why the Black Market Exists

Taxes are one reason people steer away from licensed shops and instead look to the streets to buy cannabis--but they are taking a risk they may pay for later. Legal shops may seem pricey, but they provide clean, compliant products that go through multiple tests and are verified as safe to use. 

Another reason people are turning to the black market for cannabis is that they feel forced to. Many states are slow to legalize cannabis, which leaves an unregulated market and very few ways for users to buy legal products.

 What The Industry is Doing About It

Some companies are taking direct action to curtail the issues stemming from the black market, like Weedmaps, who announced they would no longer advertise unlicensed stores on their platform. The change could significantly help resolve some of these issues as Weedmaps is currently one of the most common dispensary finders by cannabis consumers. The company also plans to explore ways to make it easier for patients and adult-use consumers to identify the license number on advertised listings. 

Leafly, another leading dispensary and strain finder company, also has a way for users to find legal dispensaries in their area. Other cannabis companies and groups like the United Cannabis Business Association (UCBA) work tirelessly advocating and educating the community and state to create a regulated California cannabis industry. 

Be Safe 

Consume cannabis consciously, just as you would with any substance you put in your body. Do the research, ask the questions, and shop at legal stores.


Written by Sarah Berrafato