Scores of young people are showing up in hospitals across the country, terrifically sick, with mysterious symptoms. The culprit? So far, signs point to counterfeit vape cartridges. Although no single product has been linked to the strange and deadly spate of illnesses, most cases have been associated with bootleg cannabis products bought on the black market.
Otherwise healthy people, most in their 20s, are showing up in emergency rooms with severe shortness of breath, often after several days of vomiting, fever and fatigue. Doctors have been stymied by patients’ lack of knowledge — or outright denial — about the actual substances they have inhaled or consumed.
Take a recent case from Utah: Alexander Mitchell went from being a reasonably fit hiking enthusiast to “on death’s door, in literally two days.” The 20-year old had suddenly acquired a mysterious, life-threatening injury to his lungs that had him on life support in a medically induced coma. Doctors were baffled. Thankfully, a lucky hunch by a doctor who had heard of similar cases elsewhere probably saved his life. Mitchell was diagnosed with acute respiratory syndrome, and his case was one of the worst reported in the recent spate of illness spanning the country.
So far, some 215 people in 25 states have been diagnosed with the respiratory sickness since late June, according to official counts. Scores have been hospitalized, some with lasting lung issues that required use of a ventilator or lengthy stays in intensive care units.
In fact, the cluster of illnesses has led the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to warn the public to against using vaping ingredients bought on the street, and to stop modifying either nicotine or cannabis e-cigarette devices.
Vape pens are increasingly the first choice of cannabis consumers throughout the country. Even in states that have legalized, many buyers still opt for black market cartridges, which can often look amazingly similar to the real deal and pack quite a punch—not to mention cost half the price.
Apparently, there may be quite a steep price after all.
Counterfeit versions of dispensary brands are made by dealers who buy fake dispensary product testing stickers, and even replicate QR codes and other identifying markers. Some independent labs that have tested the bootleg products have come back with results including Vitamin E – which can become deadly when vaporized, and pesticides like myclobutanil, which is extremely toxic when vaporized and was used as a chemical weapon by the French army during World War I.
So how can you tell if your cartridge is safe and clean? The best way is to bite the bullet and purchase from a trusted, licensed dispensary. Even when buying brands you recognize, (like your favorite Item 9 Labs product, of course), its best to avoid pop-up shops or online retailers. If the price and product seem too good to be true, it almost certainly is.
If you have any doubt about the authenticity of your Item 9 cartridge feel free to reach out to us and we’ll help you make sure you are good to go.