Hydrogen Cyanide Could be the Missing Link in Vaping Illnesses


The string of vaping-related illnesses and deaths have caused a whirlwind of public hysteria and blind reactions from lawmakers.

Initially, the CDC targeted vitamin E acetate, an oily substance used to dilute black market THC devices. Although it was found in the vast majority of samples collected, not everyone sickened used products containing the acetate.

But according to NBC News, a new potential culprit emerged – one with a much more consistent presence.


Hydrogen Cyanide


According to the most recent findings, a fungicide called myclobutanil might be the missing link. The CannaSafe testing company looked at 10 different black market marijuana vapes. The results were the most compelling so far:


“CannaSafe also tested 10 of the unregulated cartridges for pesticides. All 10 tested positive. The products all contained myclobutanil, a fungicide that can transform into hydrogen cyanide when burned.”


Hydrogen cyanide is highly toxic when inhaled. To put this into perspective, hydrogen cyanide is the generic chemical for Zyklon-B – the same pesticide used in the Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust.

While the amount inhaled in these vapes is not nearly high enough to be immediately fatal, gradual exposure. New York pulmonologist Dr. Melodi Pirzada flatly says that “it’s going to cause a very toxic effect on the lungs.” Pirzada also issues a similar warning about vitamin E acetate.


Bootlegged Products


Although the original e-cigarette was invented by a Chinese pharmacist almost 15 years ago, today, China is synonymous with cheap knockoffs and unregulated garbage in the vape niche.

It is not uncommon for Chinese companies to create fake versions of established devices, even going as far as to slap the brand name on the product. This practice also extends into components and chemicals for homemade liquids.

David Downs, California Bureau Chief of the prominent cannabis website Leafly, explains:


“This all starts in China where you can get the empty cartridges both for the THC market and the nicotine market, as well as the additives, flavorings, and thickeners that are being put into these cartridges alongside the THC oil. It’s a very deep, mature, and advanced industry that starts in China and ends in our own backyard.”


Currently, the FDA is trying to find the source of many black market marijuana vapes – a task that requires significant detective work.


Black Market vs. Legal Market


According to NBC News, legal vape products tested showed very different results than their illicit counterparts.

CannaSafe tested a total of 18 samples, three of which came from legal dispensaries:


“Of the three purchased from legal dispensaries in California, the CannaSafe testing company found no heavy metals, pesticides or residual solvents like Vitamin E.”


Meanwhile, 13 of the 15 illegal cartridges collected contained vitamin E acetate.


The Problem with Self-Reporting


One thing anti-vaping groups pointed out was that, while most of the illnesses were associated with marijuana vape devices, some individuals only reported using nicotine e-cigarettes.

But given the overwhelming way in which the scale tips against cannabis here, something does not make sense.

It is highly likely that those who reported only using nicotine were lying out of fear of repercussions, either from employers, authorities, family or friends.

Another possibility is that nicotine users made their own liquids, sourcing it from places like China and accidentally exposing themselves to dangerous ingredients. Keep in mind, there is no reason to do this. Individuals can buy food-grade vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol (the carrier liquids in e-juice) and pharmaceutical grade nicotine legally from domestic vendors.

What really makes things bad is that, if indeed these patients are omitting critical information, they essentially started a chain reaction of misdirected blame and slowed down health officials’ investigation.

However, this is purely speculative – albeit worth exploring.


WeedAdvisor’s Continued Support for the Open Market


If this information is not the final nail in the coffin against illegal grey market products, then frankly nothing is. Many people still do not see the difference between buying legal or illegal cannabis.

The current health crisis in the U.S. and chemical analyses of legal and black market products should be more than enough to convince the public to steer clear.

While this may make consumers wary of vapes, it is unlikely that their purchasing habits will change for other cannabis products – that is until another health crisis emerges.

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