Hospitalizations Linked to Use of Unregulated Vapor Cartridges

Hanford, CA: California health officials have identified a link between the use of unregulated vapor cartridges and patients seeking hospitalization for respiratory distress. In each of the cases, patients presented symptoms of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome and possessed a history of consuming either THC or CBD extracts via the use of unlicensed vapor cartridges.

The incidents highlight the potential risks associated with the use of certain unregulated cannabis products, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. NORML has previously expressed concerns regarding the identification of adulterants and heavy metals in some unregulated cannabis extract products.

"Unregulated illicit market cannabis products, like products in an unregulated marketplace, are of variable quality and may put some consumers at risk," Armentano said. "These incidents linked to the use of unregulated, illicit market vapor cartridges reinforce the need for greater market regulation, standardization, and oversight — principles which NORML has consistently called for in the cannabis space. Consumers must also be aware that not all products are created equal; quality control testing is critical and only exists in the legally regulated marketplace."

Lab testing of vapor cartridge products in California have flagged various products in the past for impurities, leading to their removal from the marketplace.

A press release issued by the City of Hanford (CA), Department of Public Health advises, "[I]f you are going to use cannabis or CBD oil or a combination of both, be cautious, and only purchase from a licensed retailer."

The US Centers for Disease Control has recently identified cases in other states linked to the use of unregulated vapor cartridges or e-cigarette devices, including one fatality. The agency states: "Investigations into these cases are ongoing. … Even though cases appear similar, it is not clear if these cases have a common cause or if they are different diseases with similar presentations. … Investigators have not identified any specific product or compound that is linked to all cases."

Updates from the CDC are available online.