We must protect our favorite plant (and consumers) from the scourge of black market cannabis.

Cannabis industry veterans are hardened. We’ve forged a path to success in a field plagued by regulations and barriers (both legal and philosophical). And the battle to legitimize (and legalize) our favorite plant rages on. 

We’ve got a bone to pick with the media – but recent stories are true. 

National and regional media outlets tend to portray cannabis in a negative light. Since news coverage influences public perception, every person must understand the often-flawed journalistic approach to cannabis reporting. 

American media frames the cannabis conversation in such a way that it’s difficult for people to get the truth. And the value of truth is immeasurable. 

We can’t blame consumers outside of states where recreational and medical cannabis is legal for not having a clear picture of the advantages – and potential drawbacks – of cannabis. Decades of prohibition and misinformation collide with a continuing stigma; it’s the perfect storm of falsehoods and insufficient reporting. 

It’s easy to understand why many Americans are wary of cannabis. It is also impossible to ignore what’s happened in recent months.

Black market cannabis is a problem.

Lawmakers, parents, cannabis consumers, and industry vets are deeply concerned after the rash of vape-pen related illnesses and death. We get it – we are too. 

E-cigarettes and cannabis vapes have been available for more than a decade, but reports of vaping-related illnesses only emerged this year. Investigations conducted by state health departments in Wisconsin and Illinois first revealed illness among tracked patients in April. The first vaping-related death was reported on August 23rd, and reports of a cannabis vape influenced death emerged in September

The CDC, as of Tuesday, September 10, reports as many as 450 cases in 33 states of severe acute respiratory distress syndrome caused by vaping black market THC products. As many as 6 patients have died as a result of the condition. 

We should note: there are two suspected cases in Colorado. 

Purchasing black market THC or nicotine-infused vape cartridges puts you at immediate risk of developing a devastating and potentially deadly lung condition. With access to the nation’s best cannabis, in Colorado, there is no reason to purchase illicit products. Don’t do it. 

What’s causing the illness?

Symptoms – and treatment –  in most documented cases parallel a condition known as lipoid pneumonia. While the exact cause of the condition is as yet undetermined, New York health authorities confirm synthetic Vitamin E oil is found in nearly all of the seized vape cartridges in that state. 

Black market manufacturers use synthetic Vitamin E oil as a cheap alternative to safer thickening agents. NY authorities subpoenaed three thickener manufacturers: Honey Cut, Floraplex, and Pure Diluent; tests show the products of all three manufacturers contain synthetic Vitamin E oil. 

Consumers should be wary of products from these brands: Chronic Carts, Dank Vapes, and West Coast Carts

Illicit cannabis vape manufacturers use synthetic Vitamin E to dilute THC oil without thinning its viscosity. It’s primarily an issue on the black market, but some products containing the synthetic oil have made their way into unregulated pop-up shop style dispensaries in Oregon and California. 

The latest generation of thickening agents is misused in black-market cartridges. Legal thickener manufacturers strongly disapprove of next-generation cutting agents in cannabis vape cartridges. We don’t know the precise ramifications of inhaling thickener aerosol when burned or heated, but if the recent rash of hospitalizations and death is any indication, it’s a practice with deadly consequences. 

Federal Cannabis prohibition is a big part of the problem.

The Federal prohibition of cannabis creates a market for unregulated, untested, and poor-quality products that are also deadly. Much like alcohol prohibition created a demand for bath-tub gin, opportunists are willing to sell dangerous products when cannabis is illegal and unregulated. 

You can trust us.

We are committed to the safety of consumers in our state. It’s for this reason that every product carried at each of our eight Colorado dispensaries is studied, regulated, grown, and manufactured to the highest standards (no pun intended, seriously). If you have questions or concerns regarding the safety and quality of the products we carry, please contact our vendors directly.  

We know that in Colorado you have many retail dispensary options. If you do not choose to shop at Lightshade, please make sure you select a legal and reputable retail store.