LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Amid what doctors are calling a nationwide epidemic, Clark County saw its first case of a vaping related-illness.
Now the Nevada Vaping Association is warning consumers: do not use marijuana-based products that are not intended for vaping.
A cannabis industry insider told FOX5 pot isn’t the problem. Jason Sturtsman said local dispensaries know how to make vape products safely. But he said it can be hard to tell the difference between the real thing and a dangerous knock-off.
“This impacts the cannabis industry. It results in less vape sales. It results in concern that there could be a possibility of additives in cannabis products,” Sturtsman said.
Sturtsman said the problem is that illegal vape sellers are mixing cannabis with harmful oils like Vitamin E.
“Mineral oil, they’re also finding coconut oil too as well,” he said. “This is resulting in a condition called Popcorn Lung or Oil Lung.”
Sturtsman said sealed vape products from licensed dispensaries are safe.
“The entire cannabis industry does not have coconut oil as an additive,” he said. “If you look, a lot of vape pens will say pure cannabis oil.”
Instead, he said it’s bad players on the black market who are ruining it for everyone.
“It’s an extremely popular product in dispensaries especially here in Las Vegas where discreet consumption is the name of the game,” he said.
Spotting the fakes can be hard.
“When I have seen them in the pass, they tend to be a little bit darker,” Sturtsman said. “[Vitamin E] is a thickening agent so they actually add that so it appears thicker, higher quality because it’s an illegal product. They want it to appear to look like a dispensary’s product.”
Sturtsman said vaping is just another part of the growing cannabis industry that needs to be better regulated.
“When you’re buying something illegally, whether it’s a nicotine pen or a cannabis pen, you have no idea what they added to it,” he said. “They don’t care about you. They don’t care about your family.”
The National Cannabis Industry Association put out a call to Congress, asking lawmakers to deal with vaping-related illnesses, legalize and regulate weed.
Vaping accounts for 25% of cannabis sales in Nevada.
The Nevada Vaping Association released this statement:
Nevada Vaping Association strongly cautions consumers to not vape marijuana-based THC or cannabinoids products not intended for vapor use due to the significant number of deaths linked to these products.
“Consumers should be aware of what they are vaping; there are many types of e-liquids, and homemade marijuana-based THC or Cannabinoids products can clearly be harmful to the user’s health and even cause death,” said Alex Mazzola, President of the Nevada Vaping Association. “Consumers must know the difference between manufactured nicotine-based products intended to be vaporized that have not been link the recent fatalities which are very different from homemade marijuana-based THC or Cannabinoids products that have.”
Nicotine-based e-liquids are tobacco products often used as a harm reduction strategy for those trying to quit smoking and are sold at convince stores and vape shops across Nevada. Marijuana-based THC or cannabinoids vapor products are often purchased on the street or mixed at home from products that can be purchased at a marijuana dispensary that were not designed for vaping.
“It can be deadly to buy e-liquid product on the streets or mix products not intended by the manufacturer to be consumed using in a vaporizer,” Mazzola said. “When you don’t buy products that are designed to be vaporized from a reputable retailer, there is no way to know if what you are buying or mixing at home could result in death if consumed.”
A list of vape shop that sell only products intended for vapor use can be found at NevadaVaping.org.