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“Vaping” might be one of the words of the year—and not for a good reason. According to the CDC, there were just under 3,000 cases of vaping-related illnesses reported in 2019, with some in every state, and as of last month, the number of related deaths has now risen to 48. Certain companies and agencies have issued responses, including Apple, which recently banned 181 vaping apps from its App Store, as well as the state of Massachusetts, in which cannabis regulators passed a measure demanding all cannabis companies disclose the list of ingredients used in their vaping cartridges. What started as a craze among mostly young Americans in their teens and early 20s has now become a major cause for concern for the country and industry at large.
Naturally, it has CBD consumers wondering, where does CBD stand in all of this?
CBD Vaping Health Concerns
Truthfully, it’s a little tough to tell. The research on CBD, in general, is still in beta as is the research on vaping. Consequently, the research on the combination of the two is nearly nonexistent, which means that overwhelmingly, it is too early to say definitively whether or not CBD is safer than other substances to vape, or what illnesses vaping CBD may or may not lead to. However, there are a few numbers to lean on.
Most of the vaping-related illnesses and deaths have been linked to THC and nicotine vape products; of the reported cases, 80 percent say they used THC vapes and 13 percent cited nicotine. However, there is a percentage also linked to CBD. Only 1 percent of cases cited their exclusive use of CBD vapes, but 17 percent said that they had used CBD vaping products in addition to others. So while most cases seem not to be connected to CBD specifically, there is reason to take stock.
CBD Vaping Tests and Results
The causes of illnesses, as the CDC and other researchers, have found, appear to be connected to suspect chemicals that have been added to vape cartridges to either aid in the heating process or thin the plant extracts to stretch the product further, thereby increasing profit margins. The biggest of these is vitamin E acetate, an oil derived from vitamin E, which has been named as the cause of 450 respiratory illnesses up to this point. Other problematic chemicals found have been diacetyl, heavy metals such as nickel and tin, propylene glycol and polyethylene glycol that can become carcinogenic in high heat, flavoring agents—particularly those with added thinners and cutting oils—and other pesticides that may morph into stronger toxins when heated to such high temperatures as in vape pens. Many of the cutting oils used, while having passed the test for straight ingest- and digestibility into our bodies’ digestive systems, they have not been tested in either high heat or for absorption in our lungs.
In fact, in September AP News released CBD vaping results from lab testing it had commissioned on 30 CBD vape oils. Its commission was specifically directed at brands that had already been hailed as circumspect. (It is, therefore, important to note that the findings of its commission do not represent an overall market sample.) What they found was that of the 30 oils tested, 10 contained types of illegal synthetic marijuana and 8 had no traceable amounts of CBD at all. Not only that, but AP found that many of the products marketed as CBD actually have psychoactive chemicals added to them—just without the billing to reflect it.
So Why is This All Happening?
It all comes down to regulation. The primary cause of these issues is that the industry just isn’t regulated on a broad level, particularly when it comes to CBD. Marijuana is more widely regulated because it is now legal in many states. CBD, on the other hand, still falls largely outside the margin of regulatory jurisdiction, because you can’t regulate something when it’s not technically legal. Thus, you have many companies jumping into the industry mix without committing to safe production and extraction methods, without getting their products tested appropriately in third-party labs, and without making sure their products are uniform in make-up and not contaminated by pesticides or other chemicals in the manufacturing process. Without rules to follow and state or federal agencies monitoring the industry, it comes down to the consumers to police their own purchasing.
How to Safely Vape with CBD and the Alternatives
The CDC recently issued an advisory warning to consumers to refrain from vaping altogether. Now, the reason people enjoy vaping is because of how quickly the product enters your bloodstream and, therefore, how immediately you can feel its effects. For those using CBD to treat specific pain or illnesses, vaping may still be your preferred form of administration, but if that’s the case, you need to make sure you are buying your vaping products from well-established brands with readily available third-party lab testing analyses and those that give you as much information as possible about their sourcing, the extraction processes they use and any other chemicals beyond the plant extract that they use in their cartridges and vaping accessories.
Actually, you should follow those guidelines regardless of vaping necessity. The lack of regulation alone means that every precaution should be taken, not only for your safety, but also to truly experience the benefits that CBD can offer, without contamination from other chemicals. If you live in a state where marijuana has been legalized, your best bet may be to smoke or vape a product from a licensed dispensary, finding something with a high CBD content. The dispensaries in those states do fall under regulatory jurisdiction, so their products by default have to be tested by state agencies. There are other companies that are voluntarily subjecting their CBD products to the same level of testing and scrutiny as their THC products. If you’re a little out of your depth in all of this, we’ve got you covered: check out our earlier posts with tips on buying the best CBD Products and how to spot fake products.
On the flip side, it may also be advisable to hold off on vaping for the time being, until more is known about the recent outbreak. Rest assured, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy CBD’s benefits in your life that do not result in lung diseases. The most popular form of CBD is sublingual oils and tinctures, followed by capsules and soft gels, then topical creams and salves, which are usually used for inflammation. We carry many options of these items from vetted brand partners we trust thoroughly. Additionally, we also carry these brands’ edible products (including gummies), crystals and suppositories. Our partners have numerous types of each product listed on our site, and we highly recommend them.
We will continue to stay on top of developments in CBD vaping as the news continues to take shape. Our concern, and that of our brand partners, is for your health and safety—always.