The state of Massachusetts is taking aggressive action to improve regulations and testing procedures for vaping products. Efforts are currently focusing on vitamin E acetate, after the Centers for Disease Control released a new report identifying the common vape additive as a likely cause of the recent nationwide outbreak of vape-related deaths and lung sicknesses.
In light of the CDC’s findings, Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission is quarantining all cannabis vaping products until it can develop protocols for making sure shops aren’t selling anything containing vitamin E acetate. And the commission is getting a little help from MCR Labs, the laboratory that developed one of the first ways to test weed for the suspect chemical. And to respond to increasing public concerns about vitamin E acetate’s roll in vape-related lung illness, MCR Labs is offering two free screenings to any and everyone who wants to test their cannabis products.
Lab Finds Upwards of 50 Percent Vitamin E Acetate in Fake THC Cartridges
MCR Labs began screening cannabis vape cartridges for vitamin E on September 20, coinciding with the start of Massachusetts’ ban on vapes. Of the 109 samples MCR Labs analyzed, nine tested positive for vitamin E acetate. And some of those cartridges contained more than 50 percent of the additive by weight.
If you’ve ever wondered what all that extra stuff in your unregulated, counterfeit vape cartridge is, or why the color or consistency of the oil isn’t quite like the stuff you can get at licensed retailers, that’s likely why. Whoever’s manufacturing fake THC carts is cutting the THC oil with upwards of 50 percent vitamin E acetate. Indeed, MCR Labs says that none of the initial 109 samples it tested came from licensed producers or manufacturers of cannabis products.
Conversely, MCR Labs says that none of the vaping products supplied by a licensed, regulated producer have tested positive for vitamin E acetate.
MCR Labs is reporting its findings to the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission as it works to develop new regulations addressing the ingredients, labeling, sourcing, manufacturing and consumption process of cannabis oils and concentrates. Meanwhile MCR Labs will continue to offer two free vitamin E acetate screenings to anyone who submits a cannabis vaping product.
The free tests help MCR inform state regulators about which kinds of products are most contaminated with the chemical. And so far, their results are raising questions about the effectiveness of the commissions’ quarantine on regulated products. Critics say the quarantine will push medical patients and retail consumers back into the illicit marketplace, where products are more likely to contain vitamin E acetate.
Mass. Lab Behind Vitamin E Acetate Test Offers First Two Screenings Free
Despite the recent opening of Massachusetts’ recreational cannabis market, state agencies have had cannabis vaping products on lock down. Since late September, neither medical cannabis patients nor recreational consumers have been able to buy THC oils, concentrates, cartridges, aerosol products, inhalers or any products, like vape pens, designed to work with them. Instead, medical cannabis patients and recreational consumers can only purchase flower and vaping devices that work exclusively with dried herb.
At the height of the public outcry over the nationwide vape-related health crisis, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker issued an emergency ban on all e-cigarette and cannabis vaping products. The governor’s action drew a slew of legal challenges, and a state Superior Court has been steadily chipping away at the blanket ban on vapes, ruling that Gov. Baker and the state’s Department of Public Health exceeded their constitutional authority.
In one major decision, Superior Court Judge Douglas Wilkins ruled that only the state’s Cannabis Control Commission had the authority to block the sale of cannabis products. But just as the governor’s ban on medical cannabis vaping products expired on November 12, the commission issued a quarantine on all medical cannabis products except flower.
The commission cited the recent CDC report linking vitamin E acetate to lung illness and vape-related deaths. Under the agency’s existing set of regulations, product testing does not require screening for vitamin E acetate. Therefore, the commission said in a statement, products sold at licensed dispensaries and retail shops could contain the suspect additive.