By Ben Owens
Is Vaping Safe?
The short answer, it’s the same as trusting the fruit you eat or the meat you cook is safe; you can hope and trust it is but at the end of the day, unless you grew and extracted your own cannabis, assembled and filled the vape yourself, or have your own testing lab, there’s no sure way to know if what your are vaping is safe. With that being said, preliminary results are showing that legitimate, licensed cannabis brands are testing clean for harmful additives such as vitamin E, while black market “Street Carts” are predominantly the ones testing positive for these additives in large quantities. Why?
5 Things to Look For When Buying or Using OFF-Market Vapes
Tamper evident, childproof seals
If it is a legitimate product like the image shown above (thumbs up), it most likely comes in a childproof container with tamper-evident seals that allow you to know whether or not it has been opened, and prevent it from being opened by children or unintended audiences. Street carts don’t typically bother with these features of product packaging and provide no way for the consumer to know if the product has been tampered with.
Viscosity. As many of us know, cannabis oils can be sticky, gooey, and even sludge-like. Distillates and extractions aren’t runny like water, and your carts shouldn’t be either. Every vape has a small air bubble from when It was filled. If you flip your vape upside down, the bubble should slowly rise to the top. If it rushes to the top or appears to float effortlessly through the substance in your vape, it may contain additives in order to decrease the viscosity of the cannabis concentrates. This could be anything from terpenes to harmful cutting agents containing Vitamin E, which has been the main suspect in the black market vaporizer problems.
Labeling & Packaging
Labeling & Packaging: Licensed cannabis companies test their products in batches. This means that their packaging will contain labels that are applied at the point of sale indicating specific test results for that specific batch of products like you see in the image above (thumbs up). These companies don’t typically print percentages or strain names on the packaging as they will vary between batches, they print it on the label. If your product has a blanket THC content that is the same on every package and part of the main packaging, it’s likely not an accurate testing result. Additionally, packaging that contains cartoons and imagery that might appeal to children or blatantly rips off children’s products is strictly against most state cannabis laws and is a surefire indicator of an off-market, suspect product. If the product lacks labeling, ingredients, or any real information, it is also likely a fake or off-market vaporizer that could be potentially harmful.
Typically, black market products and companies are being found in States where cannabis is still illegal or not fully regulated yet much like the products found in California and New York. Knock off’s also include legal, legit companies that are in unrelated industries (Supreme, Rolex, Louis Vuitton, etc.) This is an ongoing scam across many industries that needs to stop.
Like most things in life, you get what you pay for. Cheap shit is usually made from cheap ingredients and potentially adulterated with harmful additives. While the black market does have connoisseur-grade genetics and specific, sought after products in some cases, you aren’t likely to find them at a savings compared to the dispensary and licensed retail offerings. Rather, you’ll pay a super-premium for these hard-to-get, off-market offerings. If your off-market vape doesn’t cost that much, it’s probably because it doesn’t contain much cannabis.
Do Legal Cannabis Brands Claim Vaping is Safe?
The legal cannabis market has been fighting an uphill battle since day one, and the addition of the black market vape crisis has not helped matters. Companies that have undergone the necessary steps to own and manage regulated facilities have significant investments in the legitimate industry, and have too much to risk to be intentionally misleading consumers. That being said, many have their own proprietary methods of growing, extraction, and production to create unique vaporizer products, and there are some indicators to look for. So, is vaping safe? Just because your vape has a legitimate label or appears to be real, unless you purchased it at a legal dispensary in a regulated market yourself, you should have reason for concern.