Vaping products have been in the news quite a bit recently with at least nine deaths and hundreds of lung injuries all linked to nicotine and THC vapes. The epidemic has become so prevalent in fact that an announcement was made by President Trump about his administration’s plans to ban flavored electronic cigarettes. Now reports of contaminated CBD vape products have surfaced.
The Associated Press recently reported on Jay Jenkins, who last year suffered acute respiratory failure and went into a coma after consuming a supposed CBD vape product while attending his first year at The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina. Jenkins emerged from the coma a day later and was released from hospital care. Hospital staff sealed the “Yolo” vape cartridge Jenkins had used.
The Associated Press (AP) launched an investigation and commissioned Flora Research Laboratories to analyze the cartridge Jenkins used in addition to twenty-nine other samples. The AP selected the other samples based on reports from federal and local crime labs that identified contaminated CBD products. Many of these reports identified synthetic cannabis being present in the supposed CBD samples. Synthetic cannabis products such as K2 and Spice have previously created a spike in hospitalizations and deaths. The AP used the lab reports as well as information acquired from online forums to determine where the CBD products containing synthetic cannabinoids were purchased.
Of the thirty samples tested ten came back positive for synthetic cannabis. Twenty-eight of the thirty were tested for CBD levels. Eight contained no traceable level of CBD while six contained more than the federally allowed 0.3 percent THC level for hemp-derived CBD products with a range of 1.07 percent THC to 8.87 percent THC.
“It’s Russian roulette,” said James Neal-Kababick, director of Flora Research Laboratories.
Although CBD use may be perfectly safe, some see an opportunity to flood the market with cheap and dangerous products in order to make a quick profit. Many legitimate hemp and CBD companies are eagerly waiting for regulations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently urged the FDA to issue temporary regulations within the next few months.
A properly regulated CBD industry seems more necessary than ever. Cannabis products have faced a similar crisis and while the threat of dangerous black market products has not been eliminated, expanding legal markets with required testing seems likely to reduce the market for synthetics.