Recent Vaping Injuries and What They Mean for CBGenius

Man vaping e-cigarette

If you’re like me, all the recent talk about vaping injuries in teens and young adults immediately got you worried. Whenever there’s a public health crisis, it’s important to perk your ears, and I was immediately concerned that vaping CBD had suddenly become harmful.

Wait, though⁠—CBD vape products have been on the market for years now, and this spate of pulmonary injuries only started happing recently. Basic deductive reasoning points us in the direction that cannabidiol isn’t the culprit, but it’s still natural to be concerned about CBD vaping injuries.

After all, there’s nothing inherently safe about CBD. It all depends on how you grow your hemp, how you extract it, and the ingredients you use. We’re proud to only use organically-grown, CO2-extracted, all-natural CBD products here at CBGenius, but since the industry is still largely unregulated, it pays to be careful.

In this guide, we’ll examine some of the recent news stories surrounding vaping-related injuries and CBD, and I’ll go through the list of reasons you shouldn’t throw away your CBGenus Flavored Prefilled 200mg CBD Vape Cartridge just yet.

Is Vaping Bad for You?

That’s a darn good question. We simply don’t know enough about vaping to establish its relative safety. As sellers of vaping products, we shouldn’t speculate about the relative safety or danger of vaping CBD or any other substance. I can, however, provide you with the knowledge that my expertise in the industry has provided.

Vaporizing is generally defined as the act of heating an oil or a different type of liquid until the point that it evaporates and becomes gas. From there, the user inhales the gas and holds it in the lungs to initiate pulmonary administration, which is a fancy term for inhaling a substance.

From that point, the active ingredient in the vaporized substance absorbs into the bloodstream, and no nasty chemicals, plant matter, or other unwanted materials are left behind. This description, however, depicts a perfect vaping situation. If contaminants or shoddy materials get in the way, your experience vaping CBD or another substance could be substantially different.

PG & VG

Over the years, entrepreneurs have tried various methods of suspending a substance, such as THC or nicotine, in an oil base that can be vaporized safely. I certainly wouldn’t say that the vaping industry has reached its ideal state yet, but it has come a long way. Carts leak less often, batteries are safer, and there’s a growing emphasis on safe ingredients and simple formulations that is pushing the vaping industry in the right direction.

Things really lit up when intrepid vaping pioneers discovered that mixing propylene glycol (PG) with vegetable glycerin (VG) produces a highly-vaporizable oil base. It’s possible to add pretty much anything to a PG/VG base, and it’s certainly compatible with plant oils such as the cannabinoids that are present in Cannabis sativa flower.

As a health-conscious consumer, your ears might have perked up at the mention of “propylene glycol.” Yes, this substance is a derivative of petroleum, but it doesn’t appear to have any serious side effects. According to scientific studies, PG can cause mild respiratory irritation, and this fossil-fuel product can also cause a medley of other unwanted, but minor, symptoms. The lesson is that you don’t want to put petroleum-based substances in your lungs, but at the same time, the tradeoff for people who want to use pulmonary administration without smoking is understandable.

The Vaping Tradeoff

Vaping is often promoted as an effective way to get adults to quit smoking. In fact, studies have shown that vaping is approximately two times more effective at helping people quit smoking than other cessation aids like nicotine patches or gum. Smoking causes horrendous damage to the body, and it’s an archaic practice from a different century of which we’re gradually ridding ourselves.

Vaporization is the ideal form of pulmonary administration. Inhaling pure oils does minimal (if any) damage to the lungs, and it provides even more bioavailability than smoking. Of course, the carcinogens contained in vapor are greatly reduced compared to the carcinogens present in smoke, and other obvious benefits have caused people to turn to vaping in droves.

The rise of the vaping industry has tradeoffs, however. Kids are attracted to flavored vape cartridges, and we still don’t know all that much about the safety of PG and VG. We know that useless additives like MCT oil and vitamin E acetate could be big drivers of the current vaping illness epidemic, but the FDA still hasn’t ruled on the safety of PG or VG for vaporizing.

Outside view of emergency room entrance
Has the vaping apocalypse truly begun?

What’s Going on With All These Vaping Injuries?

Here’s a brief summation of the situation, and then I’ll go into more detail: Federal cannabis prohibition is giving rise to a thriving bootleg THC vape culture, and many of these vape carts contain fillers and dangerous ingredients like vitamin E acetate.

Let me just make things clear. While we’re all waiting for the results to come in, there is at this time no indication that CBD, THC, PG, or VG, are in any way responsible for the recent epidemic of vaping injuries. It appears that kids are gaining access to illegal marijuana products that contain dangerous ingredients, and these cheap additives are then causing pulmonary damage and other forms of injuries.

On September 6th, the Washington Post was one of the first outlets to report that a hitherto largely unknown ingredient called vitamin E acetate had been linked to the recent spate of vaping-related illnesses. In the state of New York, almost all the recent vaping illnesses could be linked back to vitamin E acetate, and it’s clear that this ingredient has no place in your lungs in any shape or form.

What Is Vitamin E Acetate?

Vitamin E acetate is essentially a thickener that illicit vape cart manufacturers use to suspend THC in vape juice. This ingredient is not necessary to make vape juice, and its presence in a vape cart betrays either the producer’s lack of technical know-how or their unbridled greed. Vitamin E acetate is, after all, very cheap, and it could serve as a great filler in place of slightly-pricier vape bases like VG and PG.

Even if you were to come across vitamin E acetate on the label of a legal vape product, you might still think that this ingredient is okay to inhale. In fact, it seems that vitamin E acetate is relatively harmless when swallowed, but it isn’t commonly used in supplements due to its low bioavailability.

Experts believe, however, that the presence of vitamin E acetate in vape products could explain the symptoms that keep cropping up across the country. Everything from chronic coughs to catastrophic lung failure could be attributed to the presence of this single dangerous additive in illicit THC vape cartridges.

Never Trust the Black Market

In every instance, keeping things in the darkness of the black market only leads to deteriorating product quality, increased prices, and crime. In the void of regulatory oversight, anything goes, and might makes right for the drug lords who prowl at the periphery of every latest trend.

Vaping and the black market go hand in hand when society can’t decide what to do with cannabis and its cannabinoids. It’s natural that drug dealers would put marijuana into vape cartridges since vaping is such a big thing these days, and I’m sure the drug cartels are happy to have an outlet for their sub-par goods in an environment saturated by high-grade, domestically-grown medical marijuana that provides states with much-needed tax revenue.

It’s every hemp and cannabis advocate’s goal to move cannabis entirely out of the black market and into the pure light of day that is regulatory compliance. We need to pressure legislators to move forward with plans to properly regulate cannabidiol, and we need to thoroughly explore the proper timeframe for implementation of federal cannabis reform. The time is rapidly approaching when these concerns won’t be abstract; the wheels of cultural change are turning, and as we all know, politics is downstream from culture.

The Answer Is Two-Pronged

There are two major pushes that need to take place to make the cannabis and vaping industries safe:

1. Legalization

Cannabis legalization is an inevitability, and now it’s simply the federal government’s job to handle this transition gracefully. Legalizing cannabis would help streamline CBD law, and in all likelihood, a parallel and complementary set of laws would be applied to CBD and THC products separately.

Then, there’s the matter of the other cannabinoids. Cannabigerol (CBG) is one of the most promising cannabinoids that nobody gives enough credit. This cannabis constituent is considered to be the “stem cell” of cannabinoids; it’s the origin molecule from which all cannabinoids emerge. Think of it as the cannabis mothership; unlocking the secrets of CBG could unlock all the secrets of the mysterious Cannabis sativa plant.

CBG is expensive to produce, which has led experts to consider the possibility of breeding strains of cannabis to be high in CBG the same way that strains have been bred to be high in CBD. Perhaps a new epoch of cannabis science is coming in which “super-strains” with reasonable quantities of all the cannabinoids will reign supreme.

2. Effective Regulation

As we’ve all learned in the wake of the 2018 Farm Bill, legalization is not the same thing as full regulation. Sure, CBD is no longer a Schedule I drug in the eyes of the DEA, but that doesn’t mean you can sell it worry-free on the shelves of any retail establishment in the United States. CBD still needs to be regulated, and effective CBD regulation won’t come into place until cannabis is legalized. Here’s why.

Much as some CBD companies might try to spin it, CBD is a cannabis product. Cannabis and hemp are the same plant, Cannabis sativa, which means you have to do some serious mental gymnastics to consider CBD and THC products to be in entirely different categories.

At the same time, however, there are significant distinctions between products with high levels of CBD and undetectable levels of THC and products with high levels of THC. Some cannabis breeders have even taken to referring to their crops as belonging to one of three groups; Group 1 is cannabis with low CBD and high THC, Group 2 is cannabis with roughly equal levels of CBD and THC, and Group 3 is cannabis with high levels of CBD and negligible levels of THC. As the Cannabis sativa plant evolves to express more cannabinoids, breeders will need to develop even further classifications.

Since both the marijuana and CBD industries are growing fast, it won’t be possible to regulate one without regulating the other. Already, cops are having trouble telling high-CBD hemp and high-THC marijuana apart, which is adding another level of difficulty to the confusion of prosecuting marijuana possession cases in prohibition states.

The FDA is following Occam’s razor by unleashing its regulatory measures on CBD and cannabis in general at around the same time. Within five years, cannabis in general will be regulated within a coherent, if still emergent, framework of laws and policies that will allow the high-THC recreational marijuana and high-CBD OTC hemp industries to coexist alongside one another.

Gloved hand holding Cannabis sativa branch and leaves
Cannabis must always be examined and regulated carefully

Is CBD Safe?

The relative safety of CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids isn’t especially relevant to the topic of discussion since it appears that these cannabinoids themselves are not contributing directly to the recent epidemic of vaping illnesses. At the same time, however, determining the safety of CBD is one of the major challenges facing the continued development of an industry that conservative estimates see reaching $20 billion per year by 2024.

It’s hard not to be aware of the downsides of the increased prevalence of high-THC marijuana usage in the United States. While being addicted to marijuana is, in some concrete ways, better than being addicted to opioids, addiction is still addiction, and an increasing number of children are gaining access to high-THC cannabis products that should only be consumed by educated adults.

CBD, however, doesn’t appear to have the potential for addiction or psychosis that THC demonstrates. In fact, multiple findings indicate that some of the negative effects of THC might be mitigated by the presence of CBD. Cannabidiol itself does not appear to have serious side effects, which means that the FDA will most likely rule that this substance is similar to Advil and regulate it according. People don’t vape Advil, however, which means that the process of regulating CBD won’t be quite that simple.

There’s No Reason to Believe PG & VG Aren’t Safe

There’s room for healthy skepticism when it comes to the benefits and detractors of propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG), the two main constituents of most vape products. What’s clear, though, is that no other substances have been generally assumed to be safe by the vaping community, and adulterating PG or VG with other substances can have disastrous consequences.

Vegetable glycerin is a semi-natural plant extract, but PG is a petroleum derivative, which has led to questions about the safety of this substance. Again, however, scientists have found no link between PG or VG and the recent space of vaping injuries, and it appears that adulterants in nicotine and THC vape cartridges are mainly responsible.

The Two Regulatory Stories You Need to Follow

1. The Vaping Industry

Originally, the FDA deferred action on vaping until 2022. The idea was that in the intervening years between 2017 and this due date, the industry would straighten itself out, and vaping would become mainstream on its own.

Ultimately, the problems that vaping is currently facing are the result of cannabis prohibition. The fact that cannabis with THC is a prohibited substance federally and in some states has fostered a black-market THC market in prohibition states, and the low standards of this illicit industry have birthed vape cartridge abominations that are putting kids in the hospital.

Vaping didn’t ask for this, and the vape industry, on the whole, will likely emerge from this current kerfuffle practically unscathed. It’s my prediction that the Trump Administration’s recent moves toward targeting flavored vape products won’t have any bearing on the CBD industry aside from pushing talks forward on federal cannabis legalization and the overall normalization of the cannabis/hemp industry.

Obviously, we aren’t the biggest fans of nicotine here at CBGenius, and I personally don’t believe that nicotine ever belongs in the hands of children. Therefore, we have no problem with the FDA removing flavored nicotine e-cigarettes from the market. What we’re about to witness is a cataclysmic divergence of the vaping industry into nicotine and cannabinoid camps, and the resulting public spectacle will fully articulate the plight of the cannabis industry to millions of consumers and stakeholders.

In five years, vaping will be more about cannabinoids and less about tobacco, and the world will be better for it. Here at CBGenius, we’re reliable advocates of safe vaping technologies that allow people to enjoy the wonders of cannabinoids without smoking.

2. The Cannabis Industry

With Canadian cannabis giants swooping in and eating American hemp companies high on the promise of coming federal cannabis legalization, everyone is watching closely for what Trump will do to secure his 2020 reelection bid. Federally legalizing cannabis would certainly be a political win for the President, but it’s unclear if such a move would play to his base.

When it comes to American cannabis legalization, however, it’s not a matter of “if” but “when.” Recreational cannabis legalization has already shown itself to be an effective and profitable industry in single-state models like Colorado and Washington, and legalizing cannabis leads to increased product quality and rock-bottom prices. Cannabis legalization in the United States would provide CBD producers with access to cheaper hemp and cheaper CBD extracts, which would benefit consumers at the same time that cannabis users no longer have to worry about Uncle Sam breathing down their necks.

For what it’s worth, my educated guess is that President Trump will continue to let the public discourse work out the pros and cons of federal cannabis legalization for a while longer. His recent comments have taken the matter into the spotlight, and it’s unclear whether impending retaliatory action against vape companies by the FDA will have any impact on the CBD industry whatsoever. What will profoundly affect the CBD industry, however, is when the federal and state governments sync up their cannabis legislation and the era of rational cannabis law truly begins.

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The CBGenius Safety Pledge

Here at CBGenius, product safety is our highest priority, and we watch the market carefully for any signs that new information on the safety of CBD or a CBD product formulation has emerged. When the news recently broke that more people than ever were being hurt or even dying from vape usage, we immediately wanted to get to the bottom of the story and understand what was really going on.

The dust is still settling, so there’s no clear picture of exactly what it is about vaping that is harming kids and youth. While President Trump’s recent action against flavored e-cigarettes appears to be well-meaning and intended to protect kids, these events have created avoidable uncertainty in a market that is just now getting on its feet in a national way.

Until the science is crystal clear, we’ll stand by our position that the constituents in CBGenius vape products are not harmful. It’s up to the FDA to have the final say, and we should certainly expect regulatory action within the coming months that will alter the way we see vaping and cannabis forever. In the meantime, count on CBGenius for the latest CBD industry intel and the finest CBD products that science can devise.

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