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News » Local News

Burning One Down, Without Smoke

Last year, the vape crisis was big news. It might be off the front page, but officials have still been working to make vapes as safe as possible.

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Remember late last year, when the biggest thing on the health-concern horizon centered around vaporizers?

In what feels like one million years ago, but was really only 2019, at least two Oregonians died from a mysterious lung illness that researchers now believe is linked to dangerous and unregulated additives. A series of raids at illegal shops in California found that 75% of the products seized contained propylene glycol and vitamin E acetate, a thickening agent, according to a report from USA Today. And while COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter protests have eclipsed nearly any other item in the news cycle, the efforts around making vapes safer has continued.

Vaping may have gone into quarantine, but attention to unsafe additives remains. - SABRINA ROHWER / PEXELS
  • Sabrina Rohwer / Pexels
  • Vaping may have gone into quarantine, but attention to unsafe additives remains.

In late June, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which regulates recreational marijuana, began the process of banning the additives that officials believe are responsible for vaping-associated lung injury, or VALI.

"As of March 2020, Oregon had 23 reported cases of VALI, including two fatalities," OLCC reported in a June 19 release. "VALI has been tentatively linked to additives combined with cannabis oil."

OLCC commissioners are working to ban all "processed non-cannabis additives from being added to inhalable cannabis products. Non-cannabis vaping additives are used in cannabis vaping products for a variety of purposes, including dilution, flavor, and effects. However, non-cannabis additives are not necessary to make a vape product work with vaping technology."

The problem with additives? No one regulates them—not even the OLCC.

"There is no regulatory body that evaluates the safety of these ingredients when inhaled, and additive makers do not disclose all of their ingredients due to trade secret concerns," the OLCC wrote.

Even as the OLCC works on its regulations around what can go into vapes, the vast majority of vaporizer products on shelves today in Oregon already don't contain non-cannabis additives. With additives in question, budtenders we talked to at Oregrown and Tokyo Starfish told us that stocking those products was not worth the risk. But when in doubt about whether a product contains non-cannabis additives, it never hurts to ask.

So why are we bringing this up right now? Because this is our "Burn Issue." With that, we humbly remind you that cannabis flower, the traditional form of cannabis delivery, is still very much a thing—so go ahead and burn one down... if that's your thing.

About The Author

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been editor of the Source since 2016. (Blame her for everything since then.) Favorite car: A Trek commuter bike. Favorite cat: An adopted dog who looks like a Jedi master. Favorite things, besides responding to your comments: Downton Abbey re-runs, Aretha Franklin albums, and pink wine.

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