CDC reports majority of patients sickened in vape epidemic used marijuana vaporizer devices – many from illicit market

Health officials reported on Friday that the majority of those sickened in the vaping health crisis used cannabis vape products containing THC, and many of those in the first two states to report illnesses – Illinois and Wisconsin – said they used counterfeit marijuana products from the illicit market, not licensed MJ companies.

The revelations, contained in a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), underscore what’s been a debate since the first vaping illnesses were reported in August – whether the nationwide illnesses are coming from the legal, licensed marijuana market or from unlicensed, black-market products.

Marijuana industry officials have blamed the black market as the culprit behind the hundreds of illnesses and 13 deaths reported so far.

And industry officials have criticized the recent decision by Massachusetts to impose a four-month ban on the sale of all vaping products.

“By banning cannabis vape products that are produced according to state regulations, it significantly increases the likelihood that individuals will seek to purchase those products from unregulated sources,” the Cannabis Trade Federation said in a statement Tuesday.

In its report, the CDC said that among 805 cases of illness documented as of Sept. 24, nearly 77% of the 514 people interviewed reported using products containing THC as well as other products, and 36% reported using products only containing THC.

Others reported using a combination of THC and e-cigarettes containing nicotine.

In Illinois and Wisconsin, which were the first states to report vaping-related illnesses, officials interviewed 86 patients; 87% of them reported using vape pens from the illicit market that contained THC during the three months before getting sick.

“These data reveal a predominant use of prefilled THC cartridges sold through informal and unregulated markets, although the origin of these products further back in the production and distribution chain is unknown,” the report states.

The report goes on to say that it’s unclear if the cause of the illness is THC or “a substance associated with prefilled THC cartridges, such as a cutting agent or adulterant.”

The additive vitamin E acetate has been pointed to as a possible cause.

No patients reported adding any substances to the cartridges. And no single brand was named by all patients, but Dank Vapes was mentioned by 66% of them.

According to the CDC, Dank Vapes are counterfeit THC cartridges that can be purchased “easily” online.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

For more of Marijuana Business Daily’s ongoing coverage of the vaping crisis, click here.

Bart Schaneman can be reached at

3 comments on “CDC reports majority of patients sickened in vape epidemic used marijuana vaporizer devices – many from illicit market
  1. Jeff on

    I’m a Marylander and I’ve been vaping for a long time. Never had any issues, nor do I know of anyone having issues or heard of any issues until now. I buy my vape from a state regulated cannabis dispensary.
    Maybe if we could all come to terms with what can and can’t be in the vape cartridges and have it strictly enforced , the only issues would be buying from a dispensary instead of a guy on a street corner you wouldn’t have all this crap going on. Which brings me to my next subject of making the cannabis legal like alcohol is. Keep the cost down so the black market doesn’t want to bother with selling it because there isn’t any money to be made from selling it.
    You don’t see people selling alcohol on the streets because people can go to the store and buy it. There’s no money to be made.

  2. Ann McLaughlin on

    It would be in the interest of public health if the CDC released a list of the names on those packages that were confiscated in Wisconsin. If over 30,000 vape cartridges were seized, surely they could list the brand names on the packages so that those who may have purchased them, could see if what they have in their possession is dangerous. That would be a very real public service.

  3. john and CST on

    Geesh if you have a choice to buy from a licensed and regulated supplier why the hell would you put your health at risk and buy from the black market . Tracing products is very critical and this proves that point. SOOOO smarten up you vapers and buy from legit sources. If you are to cheap then this is what you can expect.


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