There is alot of buzz around what is making people sick from vape carts, and with good reason. People are experiencing lung function depletion and in a couple rare cases, death. But what is the TRUTH?
Before we go any farther, we need to cover a couple terms to help you, the reader, decipher what it is we are talking about. -GRAS, is a standard used by the FDA for food additives, and typically refers to the safety of eating those compounds, not inhalation. GRAS stand for Generally Recognized As Safe. -ALPHA-Tocopherol, is a natural sourced Vitamin E base used in fortified cereals, and is also heavy in leafy greens. -
Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate is a synthetically derived form of its natural cousin. They use D-alpha tocopherol which is combined with acetic acid in a process commonly known as esterification. The link included shows that inhalation of Alpha-Tocopherol (natural) has shown to reduce lung inflammation and help with asthma, and also lowered tumor necrosis factors. Some say that Tocopheryl Acetate (synthetic) has shown promise in helping with asthma, which at time of writing this, no paper has been found to show that's true.
In fact, it looks as if Tocopheryl Acetate in mice has a negative effect. Most of the published medical papers on the subject of inhalation of Vitamin E and its derivatives, have conflicting results, some saying its safe to inhale while many argue that it is dangerous and can cause acute lung illness. Developed countries tend to have a lower incidence of allergic disease (asthma) and over the past 40 years the driving factor of a lower number of these cases seems to be linked with the use of y-tocopherol in diet and an increase of that compound in infant formulas.
The recommended daily allowance of Vitamin E is 15mg per day, and at this current time the American Heart Association, recommends to get Vitamin E from food sources and to avoid high dose supplements that are potentially dangerous. The FDA regulates dietary supplements as a food, not drugs.
The makers of thickening agents market them as safe to cut up to 50% in your oil solution, 50% in a 1ml pen or cart would be 500mg of Tocopheryl Acetate, which is WAY above the daily recommended dose of 15mg per day. As well, with a cut cart the user will need to inhale more to get the same effect that they get from a non cut cart, thus increasing the exposure in the lungs. There are multiple companies selling and marketing Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate as a cutting agent online. Thickener from Mr Extractor, HoneyCut, UberThick from Floraplex, and The Flavor Apprentice are the larger perpetrators but there is over 30 others that market it as a cutting agent.
This isn't including unscrupulous Chinese producers, who knows how many of those there are. With these cutting compounds widely available, users of carts must know and protect themselves from bad actors in the cannabis space. During the writing of this article, Vitamin E lung disease has claimed its third victim, and the CDC is getting involved in a 4th current case. With almost 250 cases of lung issue across 4 states, large federal regulatory bodies are scrambling to figure out how to curb this potential new public health threat.
Protect yourselves, protect your clients, protect your rights, everyone in the cannabis industry should be calling out these bad actors and should call upon these companies that sell these compounds to cease immediately. Gone are the days of Patients over Profits, now companies are just looking to make a buck at the expense of the very consumers who helped to legalize and make a market to use these products. We must remember that the main use for Vitamin E Acetate is for cosmetics, and is not safe for inhalation. If you can't trust your source with your life, go to a legal shop.