PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - A recent wave of vaping-related illnesses, hospitalizations and six deaths, including one in Oregon, is casting doubt among cannabis and nicotine users who vape.
“A lot of our customers have been coming in and asking, what do you think of the vape stuff?” Richard Ferry, manager of Home Grown Apothecary in northeast Portland said.
The vaping industry is facing intense scrutiny, now that six deaths have been connected to severe lung disease, caused by nicotine and cannabis-based vape pen use. Kansas health officials confirmed the latest death on Tuesday.
“People got hurt,” Ferry said. According to him, “you should definitely be cautious.”
The cannabis advocate is a big proponent of tougher regulations for nicotine-based vape pens, which are legal nationwide.
He told FOX 12, unlike cannabis-based products, e-cigarettes are not tested for additives and supplements.
“Part of it is a viscosity thing,” according to Ferry. “Part of it is, they’re additives to make it the product they want and now we’re learning those additives are bad.”
E-cigarettes have a battery and a tank, which holds the liquid users vape, knowns as e-juice, according to Ferry.
Health officials are now looking into the impact of chemicals found in e-juice, including Vitamin E Acetate.
“A lot of those you can refill it with your own E-Juice,” he said.
Following recent reports of vaping-related illnesses, Tigard manufacturer, Connoisseur Concentrates, pulled products containing Vitamin E Acetate off its website. In a public letter, the company’s owner explained the move is just a precaution.
“I don’t think you need to stop buying vape cartridges. I just think people need to ask more questions,” Ferry said.
He admits, like e-cigarettes, cannabis vape pen cartridges are not without their own controversy.
Ferry recommends users “shop for strains not for flavors” because some products are made more naturally.
“There’s manufacturers that are taking THC distillates and isolates and botanical terpenes and making something that’s ‘blackberry flavor’ and calling it blackberry Cush," he said.
He also suggests consumers ask specific questions regarding how a product is made, what kind of cannabis it is, how it is being suspended and what kind of vape cartridge it is being packaged in.
Ferry said unlike with e-cigarettes the answers are usually right on the packaging, though not all manufacturers are equally transparent in how that information is presented.
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which regulates the pot industry, requires retailers include certain information and assigns each cartridge a tracking number printed on its packaging. That number can be used to get detailed information on any given product.
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