Vaping cannabis oil and nicotine appears to be far safer than smoking. But it wasn’t until three years ago that a fatal disease suddenly appeared and disappeared. The main culprit for the disease, known as the Vaping Associated Pulmonary Injury (VAPI), was cannabis and nicotine vape pens with an unorthodox ingredient, vitamin E acetate. However, we had to look around the internet chat boards to find out who was trying to use vitamin E for every cannabis oil that may have ended up in vape pens. (1)
Some people claim to have tried using green tea extract as an antioxidant for cannabis extracts (2), although CBD supposedly works too. (3)
Are Vitamins Legal In Vape Pens?
Oregon has changed the rules for vape pens to ensure that the risk of lung injury is minimized. They have restricted MCT and shark liver oil – yes, actual shark liver – from legal THC and CBD vape pens in the state. (4) However, if the regulator restricts some related ingredients, it may focus the use of another problematic substance that we do not fully understand.
We previously reported that Canada’s cannabis producers can add small amounts of vitamin E to legal vapes based on the laws set out in Bill C45 in combination with Chart II in the Tobacco and Vape Act. (5) The permitted amounts depend on the “natural amounts” of the taste to be replicated. In other words, there is no real limit to the number of vitamins a processor can add to cannabis extracts when they can deliver a natural (concentrated) taste with an equal amount of these vitamins.
What is a vapor breach?
Vitamin E acetate is famous for its lung injury and is even blamed for 68 deaths, the first of which occurred in August 2019. (1) But how did vitamin E acetate really get into the cannabis room?
This disease was diagnosed 16 years after the practical devices, or at least the e-cigarette, were introduced. (1, 6) So it appears that an event has occurred that has caused a dramatic number of vape pen deaths.
Let’s close the window slightly, to three years instead of two decades. Cannabis was a trend a year away from being nationally legal in Canada and other states. What was in demand now were extracts and other goods that had never been in demand before – such as CBN isolates and Delta-8-THC. However, something else happened in the underground world of cannabis that was less seen by the public.
Photo courtesy THCFarmer.
Enter Skunk Pharma Research LLC
An infamous cannabis forum blogger known as Graywolf and his two colleagues gave Pioneer Holdings control of the Skunkpharm blog in 2017, according to a post on THCFarmer. This change came alongside Graywolf’s absence from the cannabis room. At least that man and his two colleagues were no longer overseeing one of the most prolific chat boards in the underground cannabis industry.
The takeover of Skunkpharm and Graywolf’s subsequent absence meant that many of Skunkpharm, as well as the readers and contributors of the THCFarmer chatboard, moved elsewhere. Much like restricting a surfactant in the industry, Pioneer Holdings propelled the internet in an atypical direction by acquiring the Skunkpharm blog.
THCfarmer (red) compared to Future4200 (blue) over a period of five years. Google Trends.
New kids on the block
For an analysis of how the cannabis chat boards are doing today, Marcus Richardson – commonly referred to by his pseudonym Bubbleman – spoke to an invited panel on his Youtube podcast Hash Church. He asked if anyone was visiting the “chat boards”. (7) The men and women on this panel have had enough leverage in the cannabis space to cover multiple stories and possibly even two decades in the industry. Apparently few panelists attend these forums at this point in their career.
However, Skunkman Sam, the elusive character of the panel, spoke about his recent experience with chatboards.
There are a handful or two handful of people who are able to discuss this [cannabis] without sinking into aluminum hats.
Skunkman Sam on Hash Church
Regulatory pressure is shifting an industry
Between the first takeover of Skunkpharm by Pioneer Holdings and the first vaping-related death, there was a change in US hemp regulations – The Farm Bill. Cannabis processors had to find a way to circumvent the new restrictions on THC after December 2018. With the Farm Bill, CBD became legal for production and sale – as long as no D9-THC was involved. This meant that processors turned to the pharmaceutical industry’s catalog of intellectual property and incorporated that knowledge into the cannabis industry. We have already discussed these nuances.
But before that happened, the extreme refinement of extracts had gained popularity among many extract artists. The use of saline, but also magnesium silicate began, which can be done with incredible care. If, over time, residual sodium from the saline or magnesium builds up in the extract, it can turn pink. Otherwise, CBD is simply known to oxidize to a red variation (quinone) of itself known as CBD-HQ. (8th)
The owner of one such website reported an interesting attempt to prevent this discoloration once a simple PH shift failed – exactly a year and a month before the vape crisis began.
A Google search for “Tocopherols THC-Distillate before 2019” creates a chat board post with 21,500 views, which contains a comment on tocopherol as an additive to prevent discoloration in the D8 distillate. This comment was posted by the website owner exactly a year before the first death related to vaping. This death is likely due to vitamin E acetate (tocopherol) being an additive in distillate-based vape pens. However, this author would like to personally accuse the ban and “The Agencies” of excluding cannabis from scientific development for a century.
Has a cannabis forum site given the vape injury trouble legs?
Vitamin E acetate is NOT an antioxidant for cannabis distillate. The use of this ingredient in inhalable cannabis products can be fatal!
The owner of a prolific chat board – a self-proclaimed college dropout and unemployed landowner – shared his (unsuccessful) experiments with vitamin E acetate as an antioxidant for delta-8 THC extract. To some concern, this comment was posted a year before the first vaping-related death. As of this post, science and the CDC (1) have been convinced that vitamin E acetate was partially responsible for the disease caused by vaping that killed 68 people. Was this post exactly when the cannabis industry went too far?
Has the consumer’s intrigue into new, milder, and more convenient effects coupled with the processor’s interest in profits eradicated a message that cannabis has supported for decades? “It’s just a plant, man.” Or can we blame the Farm Bill and the federal ban on THC and let the free market develop?
Let us know who you think first Vitamin E oil on cannabis vape pens in the comments. Check out this story to find out how vitamin E oil causes lung damage.
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.oregon.gov/olcc/Docs/commission_agendas/2020/Non-Cannabis-Addtives-in-Inhalable-Cannabinoid- Products.pdf & ved = 2ahUKEwiIkcyTqNzvAhXSl54KHcwrCbIQFjAAegQIBRAC & usg = AOvVaw31PgeVe3zY4BsCmNCyhQYc