Vaping Dangers, Deaths, and Strategies

My thoughts on the recent tragic vaping deaths.

  1.      I found this to be an accurate comprehensive article on vaping and upon the state of the current horror engendered by deaths apparently caused by using THC, (simply non-lethal) products.
  2. First, for clarity, vaping is done with either a rechargeable battery with a “factory” made cartridge attached. The cartridge, or “cart,” is filled with the viscous liquid which will be heated, producing vapor. The other for of vaping which is common, and which involves vaping only the flower material, uses the rechargeable battery to heat the plant flower in a screened container, producing the vapor, with no extra chemistry. Since there is no extra chemistry added to the plant material, I suspect that none of the current scare has anything to do with this mode of vape.

It appears that as of today (from the lay sources) the deaths may have been caused by heated, but not vaporized, oil in the lungs. This can result from the vape cartridges (“carts”) being filled with the wrong oils, or with the wrong oil additives.

It is theorized that vanilla acetate, or vitamin E, or with some other relatively heavy oil may be the root cause of the current 9/9/2019 spate of horribly tragic vape deaths.. Those oil, taken in this way, is an oil that can can kill, apparently because it does not vaporize without very high temps. These temps are far above what is produced by a THC or e-cig vaporizer.

So far the apparent cause of the recent deaths appears to be  leaning towards after-market cartridges, not towards legally produced and regulated cartridges. We should know shortly. I hope that the current rules and regs on testing did not miss something. Is this perhaps an unintended consequence, with no one having thought of oil in cartridges being a deadly problem? If so, did testing miss it because we did not know to look for it?

Again, regulated legalized states are in the best position to protect our citizens from this random death penalty for vaping pot. Emergency rules can be put in place if needed, and quickly enforced to protect us. Everyone wins.

My advice: I would be hesitant to use any cartridges that have been laying around. The older cartridges may have been untested, or tested too long ago. The more volatile components may have evaporated, leaving the less desirable bigger chain oily molecules in higher percentages.  Warning: This part might be stressful. Be calm as you properly dispose of old cartridges.  To me, guessing only, I think that once a cart is 2-3 years old it’s likely both pretty different in appearance (going to golden brown, honey color) and probably the container is not as full. Not good signs generally.

Also, for anyone with compromised health, say heart or the like, now 9/9/2019 might be a good 30 days to avoid vape products, allowing the labs to do their job. CDC is all over it I believe.

Additionally, since the lethality is apparently not age or health dependent, I would extend my thinking to anyone who is currently vaping either tobacco or THC or any other material. This is a good time to wait and see, not “vape and see.” I suspect that vaping the pure flower alone is far far safer than inhaling what is basically a broad-band distillate of a number of things including cannabis. For “legal and regulated” states, assuming professional work by the various state labs, I would be generally comfortable using vaping products which employ cartridges…. after waiting about 30 days. I’m adding it to my calendar tickler now so I can report back regarding my prognostication.

My thinking is that while we are quickly narrowing in on the path of the killer vapes, we do not quite yet know, as of 9/9/2019, at 9 PM EST, just what is causing the deaths.

If we are confident that we’ve found the answer quickly, fantastic!  If in 30 days we need to re-evaluate, we can stomp, curse, pull out our hair, and re-evaluate.

If smoking weed is used as an alternative for this short time, a single toke may be quite sufficient as a dose. Remember that a joint from the store costs $5 to 10 for a one gram joint. A pair of tweezers (once called roach clips) is a good investment. Pipes are efficient I suspect, if used one hit at a time.

If edibles are substituted, remember the dosing issues, timing issues, and pay attention to the sugar, since so many are high in sugar. They also vary somewhat in kick. If you are new to the magic world of marijuana, consider a sign in places This is a good time to make no decisions beyond “should I watch re-runs of Jeopardy or re-binge Justified season 1?” A good time to not drive, or to do anything which would put you at risk, emotionally or physically.  For example, do not play computer flight games. Well you never know!

If one is to continue vaping for the next month, perhaps relying upon only the big brands for the cartridges, and paying attention to the expiration dates which I suspect are on the packaging, might be sufficient.