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Tests show bootleg marijuana vapes tainted with hydrogen cyanide (nbcnews.com)
214 points by Tomte 26 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 161 comments

From the article it sounds like this is strictly an issue of it not being legal and regulated. The pesticides and contamination are present thanks to the black market.

It's absolute insanity in my view. We have people advocating for prohibition over safety concerns which is ironically creating the unsafe conditions in the first place. It's way past time that we legalize it nation wide, provide strict regulations to prevent pesticides / other contaminants from entering the market, and educate people on the dangers of buying from an unregulated black market.

Absolutely. The problem is only going to become much worse now, due to banning sales of legal/regulated products. Relatedly, Massachusetts governor just announced a 4 month total ban on ALL vaporizer products (THC, Nicotine, flavored, unflavored) despite zero Massachusetts vape deaths, so consumers will now be turning either to cigarettes (which kill 1,300 people per DAY nationwide) or black market THC/Nicotine vaporizers which are the very likely causes of the current unknown illnesses and deaths as you mention.

Cigarettes are bad but they kill you slowly and predictably. Vaping is better, but absent quality control it might kill you in unexpected and unpredictable ways (because right now we much less about what vape manufacturers are doing than we do about cigarette manufacturing or the effects of raw tobacco or cannabis).

Looking at it as a one-dimensional continuum of worse-better can be quite misleading if the problem is better represented by 2 or 3 coefficients.

Smoking kills 40k people, per day, in the US? That number seems off. I don't think there are that many births in a day so we'd be losing a lot of people.

Whoops, misread a stat! Corrected, it's 1,300

You're performing numerator analysis there. You're comparing deaths irrespective of number of users, never mind their duration/frequency of use. For smokers, this would be pack-years, which is the number of daily packs times the number of years. There's the sheer volume of smokers, probably 10x the number of vapers? Hard to say, I'm not well read on the literature.

In any case, comparing numerators here is not good epidemiology, as smokers are far more numerous and have used for far longer/heavier use.

> despite zero Massachusetts vape deaths

There were deaths in other states. How close do they need to be geographically till it is ok to do this precautionarily?

I believe you’re referring to Michigan? Incidentally my former summer camp counselor is the lawyer challenging that ban https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/michigan/201...

Not only that, the massive hysteria and misinformation is a problem for everyone outside those states that are shotgunning measures.

I took a hiatus on my nicotine vape when the news started exploding and went back to another form of tobacco as I just didn't know what was going on. Its the devil you know vs the one you don't.


Close, dipping tobacco.

40,000 people per day? Seems a little high.

Whoops, corrected! it's 1,300, as per CDC https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast...

In my job as a Paramedic, i can't even begin to count the number of people I've seen with respiratory distress that is directly related to cigarette smoking. It's absolutely horrible for you. :/

> From the article it sounds like this is strictly an issue of it not being legal and regulated. This has nothing to do with regulation or prohibition. Remember fake pentium chips, capacitors, transistors and tons of other electronic components? The simple fact is popular things will be counterfeited and vape cartridges are easy to counterfeit. Counterfeiting is also a problem in legal states too. Unless you are going to a legit shop and spending real money you are most likely getting fake garbage.

When cannabis carts came around they were $75 here in NYC for a 1 gram and were tough to get. My first was a nice brass knuckles brand that hit like a mother fucker. Then there was a sudden flood and prices were dropping as low as $35 for a 1 gram and people were suspicious. Then it was even reported back then that counterfeiting was a big problem.

When CA legalized a second wave of cartridges came in and we got more brands and again, higher prices around 50-60 for 1 gram. but again, rumors of fakes followed and so called trusted brands like kingpen were vulnerable.

Me? I just smoke flower. Can't fake that. Though you can be sold low yield crap or laced stuff but honestly, I haven't heard of that crap in over two decades. Basically that's the kind of shit they pull on unsuspecting high school kids. The worst flower you get nowadays is generic mexican brick weed that smells like plastic wrap.

The same pesticides that end up in cartridges came from the flower/material that was used.

Flower can also have molds, bugs and other things that a good test would show and people who just "trust" flower would then smoke. Sticking to flower wont keep you safe from anything but vitamin-e in the lungs.

More than half the flower I see in NYC is in counterfeit CA/CO/OR/WA packaging, I do not trust its safety.

Testing is the solution... all intake methods have their inherent risks.

Concerning flower, about 15 years ago in the UK, there was an issue where flower was sprinkled with glass beads[1] to give it the appearance of having a lot of trichomes.

Legalization and regulation would solve this problem.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2007/jan/12/drugsandalco...

>More than half the flower I see in NYC is in counterfeit CA/CO/OR/WA packaging, I do not trust its safety

That's fine, your choice and all... But tens (hundreds?) of millions of people have been smoking weed in this country for decades. How many cases of illness due to pesticides have there been? I can recall a few, but it's a tiny, tiny number.

I mean, the cases of illness from vaping is a tiny number too.

Right, and we don't even know what the cause is yet. I have been vaping for about nine years now. If you look through my comment history you'll what side of this issue I'm on.

The problem with pesticides isn't acute poisoning, but health effects from chronic exposure.

No one is going to go to end up in the ER after smoking a joint, but if one's sources are consistently tainted, there might be an increase risk for cancer or other diseases later on.

Myclobutanil will still produce hydrogen cyanide vapor in a joint, it will just be of less dosage. Risk of 'hotspots' exists: you are right that it is much less than for concentrates, but it is non-zero.

Sure... but practically, how often does this happen?

We don't know. "Was your ditch weed sprayed with paraquat?" isn't a question doctors ask their patients.

true. seed-to-sale tracking would allow us to back track tainted lots, in conjunction with asking this question though.

It heavily depends on the pesticide and how it's ingested. Some pesticides are fine in the human body and simply aren't metabolized well enough to cause any trouble, though others can be very aggressive on humans over long term exposure.

If you heat the pesticide up or even burn it, the resulting compounds can be unpredictable and range from even more harmless or actually toxic.

not saying i wouldn't partake, i would just prefer something i can verify is safe.

Sure, I'm not trying to beat you over the head here, just saying that the odds of buying poison weed are astronomically low.

If you're buying pot off the street and it comes with a label; you're getting ripped off.

Seriously the stuff has been popular since the 1960's. I think we can all agree that smoking "pure" pot, mold bugs and all, isn't this massive health risk that everyone needs to watch out for. The oldest stoners seem to be just as happy and healthy as the younger ones, if not more so. And that's just by buying unlabelled, untested plants grown by friends.

Regularly inhaling burned plant material is harmful. Cannabis is not as dangerous as tobacco, but smoking is going to substantially increase your risk of lung disease and cancer.

So naturally the most American thing to do right now is to ban systems that give people the drug delivery without the harmful smoke. Black market providers will definitely be held to better safety standards and offer more honest labeling so adults can make informed choices about the risks they want to take with their own bodies.

(Of course when we're actually living in a bizarro world of moral panic where a third of Americans think that vaping is equally or more dangerous than smoking cigarettes, so it's hard to have too much faith in our public education.)

Of course when we're actually living in a bizarro world of moral panic [...]

Loading up a reasonable observation with tons of snark and broad political critique doesn't make for great conversation. I could just as easily point out that the technological innovation of vaping simply opens up a new market for unscrupulous capitalists to make a quick buck out of overselling the upside benefits while dumping the downside risks on the unwary.

> Cannabis is not as dangerous as tobacco

Actually I thought it was the other way round. Just that you don't smoke as much cannabis as you do tobacco (i.e. a 20 a day every day without fail habit

My dealer isn't just any old schmuck off the street. He moves pounds weekly and always top quality. Fat moist sticky buds in Hermes jars. He weighs it out right in front of me. My other guy is difficult, amazing selection but I have to go through someone as that guy is super secretive.

Both are West Indian and weed is almost a religion to some of those guys. So they don't mess around with quality. They been smoking longer than I have. Full trust. You just have to know the right people to get solid connects.

I take it you're not in a legal state?

I don't disagree with your points, but i would point out that better research in agri-science and more competitive markets has led to more issues in the supply chain. Are the heavy metals left from the nutes killing anyone? Not at the rate Vitamin E is, but do know they are harmful.

People put scent agents on flower(ive heard of pixie sticks being used to add "grape/berry" scent), as well as other chemicals to make it appear a certain way. These things were probably not happening in the 60. So we don't know the real long term dangers because these issues havent been around long enough.

oddly enough, some extraction methods can actually make moldy/unsafe material safe, or at least get it past testing and onto the market. SFE apparently kills mold and pests. so you are taking flower deemed unworthy of human consumption into oil that is now claimed to be of dubious safety...hmm.

there are actually companies that specialize in buying test failing lots of flower and extracting them.

A few thoughts on this.

1. In CA, all cannabis sold at the market must be tested by a lab for purity. This gives consumers quantifiable information on what they are putting into their bodies.

2. I am a big fan of tinctured Canibus. This is made by soaking cannabis flowers in high proof alcohol. This method helps kill many bacteria that could cause human harm. Fortunately, I live in a state where I can grow my own and know that my crop from growth through production is free of Hydrogen cyanide. Caterpillar poop has been a bit of an issue on a few of my plants this year though.

3. The issue here is a bad vape. Not cannabis in general. Cannabis is much like a tomato plant from an ecological perspective. If you're going to sell cannabis at market regulate it like you do tomatoes. If you can grow your own next to your tomatoes. Unless your heavy user chances are the harvest from 1-2 cannabis plants will last you a full year or more assuming yields of 1/2 1 -lbs per plant.

Happy growing!

>I just smoke flower. Can't fake that.

"microgrit"... https://www.theguardian.com/society/2007/jan/12/drugsandalco...

You have this myopic view whereby you’re only considering the price. what is your health/life worth to you? Saving $30 a pop?

I’ll happily spend that $30 to know what’s going into my lungs.

First and foremost, lets get it regulated, _then_ let the market set its price. Sure there still may be counterfeits but at least discerning consumers will have a choice.

You point to other areas where regulation could be better enforced as a reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater here, that doesn’t jibe.

Even flower can be tainted, look at the paraquat fiasco (related to Mexican weed, coincidental to your last point, but still: regulation and testing of flower would be beneficial too): https://www.nytimes.com/1978/11/19/archives/poisonous-fallou...

> First and foremost, lets get it regulated, _then_ let the market set its price. Sure there still may be counterfeits but at least discerning consumers will have a choice.

Governments can remain irrational longer than you can breathe.

I don’t have that kind of patience for someone else to get around to re-granting me Freedom.

Then you’re trading patience for the having your freedom-years statistically decreased. A fine decision for an independent actor but not the kind of thing strong societies are built on.

With government, you can vote and even run yourself to affect change. There’s no petitioning the black market!

The families of those who died from this should file a class action lawsuit against the FDA and/or federal government. The market their regulations created caused these deaths, and could have easily been prevented by ending prohibition.

Of course it should be legalized, but until people start voting based on logic and not emotion, that is going to continue being an uphill battle.

The states that legalized it should have found a way to ensure:

1. Vaping [either as delivery system or the liquid itself, or both] were tested rigorously like any drug that wants to go to market[1]

2. They conform to GMP and other measures to ensure purity of product.

[1]Because we don’t know what high heat and resultant atomization do to lung tissue when these things are inhaled.

What's insane is that you want to educate people on the dangers of buying from an unregulated black market, but somehow think there is a safe way to inhale chemicals into your lungs by applying regulation.

So because it still has some downsides, we should just let it be unregulated and notably more dangerous?

I don’t get your point, especially when all the information is pointing to unsafe and non-standard solvents being the cause of these cases.

In the presence of a black market producing toxic products, prohibition is a reasonable response. Advocating prohibition right now, at the same time that you advocate for legalization & regulation, are not incompatible with each other.

The 'black market' began self-regulating against the use of pesticides back in 2016/2017 before any regulation kicked in. Consumers became aware that pesticides were present in their vape cartridges and retailers started demanding lab results. After being conned a few times the more responsible retailers started randomly testing products on their shelves for pesticides and dropping vendors who tested positive. By mid-2017 it was very difficult to sell products that were testing positive for pesticides in to retailers in northern california. In southern california it was a different story...but the market was beginning to self-regulate. It just took time for cultivators to learn IPM strategies and respond to market demand. Aside from cultivators many manufacturers started to perform large scale chromatography and liquid-liquid extraction to remediate oil contaminated with pesticides...all without government intervention.

With legalization they've banned certain pesticides but allowed others. Neem oil and sulfur are very commonly used as part of an integrated pest management strategy in the licensed market. I can tell you I do not feel comfortable inhaling neem oil and personally think the quality of oil in 2017 was better in the black market than what is available today.

Your argument of self-regulation and lack of government intervention is pretty well undermined by the current situation of hundreds sick and a dozen deaths in a period of months. Sure, the market may correct, but the damage done before that isn't fixed.

As for things like neem oil etc., perhaps the current regulations are insufficient, doesn't mean they should be done away with all together.

Also, regulation doesn't automatically stop market competition: If the market has corrected the use of pesticides in the past, there's no reason competitors couldn't do so again through market forces above & beyond what the regulations require. Heck, it happens all of the time. The FDA has minimum guidelines for meat grading, but there's plenty of competition on quality, e.g., Angus beef, that is far above the minimum grades required for human consumption.

Regulation sets a baseline minimum, not a maximum, and there's an endless number of items that compete on quality much higher than the baseline.

> Your argument of self-regulation and lack of government intervention is pretty well undermined by the current situation of hundreds sick and a dozen deaths in a period of months.

No, this is a black market that exists because of the government prohibiting the legal market.

And the black market does a shit job of correcting these problems because it lacks the transparency of the legal market. For instance, it's extremely difficult to determine the reputation of sellers who have to hide their identity.

Let's also keep in mind government intervention can be actively dangerous if they think they're protecting people from themselves. Back during prohibition, for instance, they poisoned 10,000 people[1] to try and scare them into not drinking.

> Sure, the market may correct, but the damage done before that isn't fixed.

No one can see into the future. We didn't know the war on drugs would cause all the problems it did. We saw a serious problem getting worse and identified the behavior that seemed to be causing problems and then made those actions illegal.

And we already have the government involved in markets when it decides civil cases. The best case for regulation is when you have people suing each other for damages and the government, which has to rule on these cases anyway, passes a law that simply enforces the outcome of many similar judgements.

[1]: https://vinepair.com/articles/government-prohibition-poison-...

>Sure, the market may correct, but the damage done before that isn't fixed.

To be fair, it's not like regulation can cure those people either.

No, it could prevent future incidents. The market can only respond to them. Proactive vs. reactive.

Right, but so could a market self-correction. They're both delayed remedies.

But which one is more consistent? Are you gonna trust wide spread laws and regulations or that high school kid selling carts out of his Honda Element to be more reliable when it comes to safety checking?

Market correction doesn't solve future issues, just the specific one at hand. Regulation sets a baseline so that problems below that baseline of quality are much less likely to crop up.

You can't regulate against scams that haven't been anticipated yet any more than the market can correct for them. Both democratic regulations and market correction depend on the same thing, which is the population's awareness of a problem, so one can't possibly be more vigilant than the other.

great, so lets use both: regulation to set the baseline, markets to take care of issues that arise above or outside of that baseline.

You seem to know a lot about this industry. Do you work in it? What else can you tell us?

Thanks for your ever poignant comments on cannabis related items on HN :D.

Prohibition is a failure. It has been for a long time. How much longer do you propose we should keep failing at it before we give up and try a different approach?

The 18th Amendment sure did make things more peaceful and everyone totally abided by it, right guys? Right???

If you did more than scan for keywords and respond with flame bait, you'd see I'm all for making it legal. But in the meantime, if people are getting sick and dying from using the illegal stuff, it makes sense to avoid it. My point was that the two opinions aren't mutually exclusive.

If you were advocating abstaining from black market products your comment would make sense, but saying "keep everything like it is right now" is saying that we should continue to have unregulated product on the market. Best intentions aside, abstinence isn't happening.

And where did I say "keep everything as it is" now? Perhaps I should have been clearer: by prohibition in this context, because we already have legal prohibition, i.e., it's against the law, I meant in the vein of abstinence, that we should be telling people "don't do it".

We don't exactly have prohibition. We have a perverse, contradictory patchwork of state level legalization, federal level prohibition that overrules the state legalization efforts, federal prohibitions on enforcing federal prohibition laws in states that have legalized, and then in some states, outright prohibition (with black market product flowing in every state regardless). It's prohibiting the FDA from providing common-sense regulation to provide safe product.

We already tell people "don't do it." That's a failed policy that's producing hundreds of sick people. We need to make harm reduction via regulation the default case.

"> We need to make harm reduction via regulation the default case."

Yes, it seems we basically agree. Which means we're just arguing over my initially poor choice of words. Sorry!

I had a feeling. No worries, happy Friday :)

Using the threat of violence to enforce what adults can and can't put into their own bodies never produces a positive outcome. It only creates violence and allows dangerous products to flourish. With all these stories about people dying from fentanyl and fake carts, when have you ever heard of someone having any issues from a bad batch of beer, or even a bad batch of cigarettes?

> In the presence of a black market producing toxic products, prohibition is a reasonable response.

How do you figure? Prohibition will drive UP black market usage. Why would you do that?

I think he is making a supply/demand economics argument.

If you prohibit X, the demand will still be there so a blackmarket will pop up to supply X to meet the demand. However, if the market comes to find that the black market supply of X includes toxins, then the demand would fall.

The problem here is the market is irrational and people will continue knowingly buying toxic X from the black market.

I'm not saying the demand will fall (I mean, it should rationally but I wasn't making an economic argument) My point was that our message to users should be, "Don't do it while it's toxic, wait until it's safe" where safe is legal & regulated for safety, like with juul-variety vaping, which isn't killing these people.

I'm fairly certain it is not known for sure that Juul isn't killing people. It actually seems to come up often in terms of nocotine products people who get sick are using. That could be just due being a popular brand, but the company is obviously very shady and I wouldn't be surprised if they turn out to be part of the problem. Current regulations seem to be very minimal and not sufficient to establish safety. At first I thought it was overreaction, but I can see why the CDC is saying maybe don't vape for now, especially if you start to have any lung issues (which seems to be about what you are saying except for the last part about Juul being safe).

Yes, I'm not so hot on Juul either. I don't think it's safe, but as a legal, regulated product it has a certain minimum baseline that these black market products lack. That's all I meant.

Based on US media coverage, nobody knows any data points about the safety of vaping at all.

It seems like the winning move here for public health would be to increase the supply of legal product to drain demand from the black market.

We have the black market already, and it's toxic. So telling people they shouldn't do it right now seems reasonable. At the same time, we should be making it legal & safe. It's simple: "Don't do it while it's dangerous, wait until it's safe"

You already shouldn’t do black market vapes. This doesn’t change anything; it’s not like black market vapes were state approved before.

Prohibition is already in place, hence the black market. How can something that is already in place (and failing) be a response?

Myclobutanil is a fungicide that cannabis growers use to prevent mildew. Traces of it being found in oil indicate something needs to be done to prevent its usage at the growth, storage, and transport stage of the supply chain. This is probably more easily done if Marijiuana is legalized federally and heavily regulated. Given that would take an act of Congress, I fear that sweeping vaping regulation will kill the industry, robbing combustible cigarette users of a much safer alternative to nicotine delivery.

Myclobutanil is illegal for licensed grows and no one with a license would ever risk it, as it's 1) criminal and 2) would immediately invalidate their license. Unfortunately the crazy high taxes have created a robust black market where unlicensed extractors don't care about the bio-accumulation that occurs during CO2 extraction and/or cannot purge the byproducts correctly.

The distillation race was never going to end well and the next shoe to drop will certainly be on the quasi-legal CBD/hemp scams which -- if you think these tests are bad -- buckle up.

Agree - which is why I think blanket legalization with heavy federal regulation would be a best case scenario for all the reasons you point out.

Apparently this has been known since at least August. This article goes into some detail about issues being talked about here in the comments.


Why don't they name the brands that did test positive? They mention Dank Vapes, but certainly there were others.

Are there such things as brands on the black market? Any producer can imitate another producer's product.

The article states that it is easy to actually buy empty carts and even real branded packaging. Why anyone would sell that is insane...

"One of the shops visited by NBC News in Los Angeles sold packaging for Dank Vapes Gorilla Glue, the same brand of vape that Castillo was using before he landed in the hospital ICU. "

There's no such thing as a legit "Dank Vapes" cartridge. The "brand" only exists as packaging for black-market cartridges. You can buy the cartridges and "branded" boxes by the hundreds on AliExpress.

Further reading: https://www.inverse.com/article/58581-dank-vapes

THIS appears to be the problem, or a sizable portion of it anyway. The media sensationalizes, the officials implement draconian bans, and none of it addresses the actual issues it's intended to combat.

Wow, this is a much better article; it even calls the myclobutanil connection, and a month earlier than NBC's story to boot.

You could even buy them on Amazon(up until a few days ago, havent checked lately.)

Edit: gburdell3's answer – that there was never a "real" version, and it was only ever a white label package – seems likely.


My experience manufacturing in China is that unless you're paying to have your own people on the ground overseeing operations, the factory will take every shortcut they can, and then immediately offer your product for sale to anybody that asks.

Once the molds/setup is done, it's trivial to print 150k instead of 100k, for example. If there's a counterfeit market that wants more of your product, then why not make money in two places?

Western ideas about IP, fairness, etc do not translate over there.

Almost every black market drug has brands in one way or another: molly pressed with little logos, LSD dripped on blotter art, meth dyed with color, etc. The problem with brands in black markets is once a brand is successful other suppliers in the chain will clone the branding onto sub-par drugs.

Well-organized communities have popped up to combat this, track brands, and help users identify fake drugs: https://pillreports.net/

On the acid side of the house Blotter Barn has a stunning brand/art archive dating back to the 60s: http://www.blotterbarn.com/

Unfortunately brands are sold online in the form of empty kits that anyone can then fill and sell. So while there are some brands out there, not all of them are really reliable. The same black married brand in different states is unlikely to be made by the same people.

They do. It is in the embedded PDF on the site.

Direct link to PDF: https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/6432192/Vape-Cart...

Clean products: Orchid, Tikun, Select

Tainted products: Brass Knuckles "Sour Apple" and "Gushers", Heavy Hitters "Pineapple Express", Dank Vapes "Dole Whip" and "Lemon Berry", Cereal Carts "Trix", Exotic Carts "Mars OG", West Coast Carts "Hybrid" and "Indica", Mario Carts "Skunk OG"

This file is no longer accessible. Could you repost?

It seems to have been moved to https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6433147/ but I can't figure out how to download the PDF on this one. There is a GIF version which I've re-hosted: https://imgur.com/a/KYywfCQ

Ah, missed that, thanks!

I'm failing to understand why someone would choose these "wet" cartridges that are mixed with other compounds, compared to just get a dry-herb vaporizer that you just put the marijuana in. Could some enligheten me?

They're massively more convenient. Dry herb vaporizers require me to reload the device every few hits and carry a supply of dry ground cannabis with me everywhere I go. The wet capsules last for hundreds of hits, and produce less scent both when in use and when inactive.

I've also found good capsule vaporizers to be more reliable than any of the four dry vaporizers I've purchased. But I have personally stopped buying black market vapes after I lost my supplier and the next few I was able to purchase immediately destroyed my lungs... :/

But — after reading the article - do you believe the benefits outweigh the risks?

Yes. This is resolvable via packaging, regulation & enforcement changes. We have these same issues in pet food, baby formula, and ammunition.

Black market flower can also be unsafe if treated with the same chemicals. The risk with oils is that they bio-accumulate toxins during the extraction process, meaning the toxic PPM radically climbs as the non-cannabinoid organic material is blasted away by the CO2.

The issue with both flower & oil is that black market producers cannot afford to lose a crop, so if it gets mold or pests then unscrupulous manufacturers will do whatever they have to do to salvage the season.

Currently, no, because I don't have any legal options where I am currently living, and my own experience and stories like this have pushed me away from black market products.

But I believe that these are a much better product, when manufactured by accountable, regulated, legal companies.

I hope we'll have more safe products available going forward, instead of a ban that helps sustain unsafe black market products.

Even the most expensive portable dry herb vaporizer on the market today has a terrible user experience compared to the cheapest cartridge pens.

The herb compartments are very small, which means that you have to refill them literally every couple hits, which also means that they're not very portable and that sharing is basically impossible

The heating elements have to be much larger, which means that they heat up slowly and the batteries have to be recharged every other use.

They start to taste bad quickly unless you disassemble and clean them every other use.

The devices themselves are wicked expensive (hundreds of dollars vs tens), and equivalent quantities of dry herb also costs more than liquid concentrates.

Compare that to a cartridge pen where:

The battery can last for months of regular use without needing to be recharged because the element is tiny and heats instantly.

The cartridges similarly last for months of regular use without needing to repack constantly.

As far as I know, they never need to be cleaned.

A decent pen body costs like $35 vs like $200 for a dry herb vape, and a $50 pre-filled concentrate cartridge can last literally months of regular use.

Its all about portability. You can easily use these oil carts at theme parks, concerts, walking through your neighborhood without stinking of weed. Not only that, but they were getting real cheap (which could also be because they are black market). Dank Vapes carts were being sold for $25 to the end user (not wholesale). No way you are selling at that price without cutting corners in production.

So young kids see $25, no pipe/papers, ease of transport and hard to get caught.

> I'm failing to understand why someone would choose these "wet" cartridges that are mixed with other compounds, compared to just get a dry-herb vaporizer that you just put the marijuana in. Could some enligheten me?

Dry herb vaporizers are likely much more fragrant than their oil alternatives.

Ease of use. The idea of the cartridge is that you use it once and throw it away. A full vaporizer requires cleaning + can be very expensive. At the worst a new vape pen is $20-$40. It also fits in your pocket easily and looks like an e-cig / regular vape, many full THC vaporizers do not meet these criteria.

I actually have an expensive portable vaporizer, but much preferred using vape pens + carts.

Way more convenient. Before I moved, I had a friend who made them. I knew they were safe, since they were pure cannabis oil. No solvents.

Now I don’t have access, so I do opt for herb vapes. But I can’t understand why some would use carts, as you can bring them literally anywhere and use them. You really can’t do that otherwise.

This particular chemical is linked to a pesticide, and could be on dry herb as well.

I don't think dry herb vapes produce an effect that is very much like smoking, so that could be one concern. I basically don't like the effects of my Pax 3 at all. I'm pretty much done with all of it except an occasional edible though.

A decent dry-herb vape pen will run a few hundred dollars. Many dispensaries will give a 510 cart battery for free, and it is easier to use and more discrete.

I think you can get much higher ratios of CBD to THC in this format. This is what people with chronic pain and anxiety are looking for.

You can get low THC/high CBD ratios in any format. In Switzerland for example, products with CBD is legal, and up to 1% of THC. So you end up with lots of different products, including dry herb, that has 0-1% THC.

It may be harder to get in places where higher THC content is legal (since most users want more THC), but it's definitely not limited to just wet cartridges.

You COULD get much higher ratios of CBD and THC in this format if the product is not chopped to hell in back. The issue with black market carts is that it is hard to tell whether it is the genuine article with a visual inspection or by tasting the product. It's much easier with the actual flower. In theory the liquid is more potent, in practice without regulation not so much

You can buy high-CBD flower though.

The benefit of "Wet" is that its concentrated. The THC % in vape carts are typically around the 75-85% range. Opposed to vaping dry herb which has THC content of 10-25%. Another benefit is that "wet" has far less smell compared to dry herb vapes when not in use making them easier to carry around and conceal.

You can also use concentrate vapes that do not use carts. Load them with shatter, rosin, distalate, QWET...no need for any cutting agents.

Downside is you need to reload after 5-10 hits.

I've been trying that lately. I've found transferring the wax around is tricky because it's so sticky. and i have to clean the thing and the heaters wear out. but the convenience/stealth is virtually the same as THC carts. you just have to hope your wax/shatter was distilled properly.

End the war on drugs.

How is it that the CDC has been investigating this for a couple weeks and it was NBC News that found the contamination in their tests?

Oh, the CDC was always sure to make a subtle reference to THC cartridges, in passing and way down near the end of the article.

I wonder if they're still doing the same now.

The article is not that helpful.

The products all contained myclobutanil, a fungicide that can transform into hydrogen cyanide when burned.

"You certainly don’t want to be smoking cyanide," said Antonio Frazier, the vice president of operations at CannaSafe. "I don’t think anyone would buy a cart that was labeled hydrogen cyanide on it."

Looking as the MSDS for myclobutanil[1]:

- the fire hazard for health is rated as 1 (low), suggesting burning the product isn't a major health concern

- oral acute toxicity starts at 1.5g/kg or over 100 gram for an average adult

- inhalation toxicity is 2.1 mg/L while the products generally showed single digit part per million levels

No, it's not good when there are pesticides in your vape, but these tests don't suggest they are the cause of the vape illnesses.


hydrogen cyanide: https://www.mathesongas.com/pdfs/msds/MAT11160.pdf

150ppm/30min Rat LC50

Accute toxicity will be a few % of that. Assuming the conversion efficency is reasonable, chronically inhaling a few ppm of HCN would be bad. Possibly as bad as chronically inhailing high concentrations of aerosolized thermally degraded oils.

From your link:

> PHYSICAL HAZARDS: May release toxic fumes in burned.

The article mentions the process of burning it as resulting in hydrogen cyanide, which is consistent with the sheet.

Except the fire fighting risk is low.

Article provided no proof it actually releases HCN.

Firefighting risk is a general environmental risk - fighting a fire puts you in an area with fire byproducts. (not to mention the PPE firefighters usually wear) Vaping cuts out the environment part & introduces the combustion byproducts directly to your lungs.

Meanwhile in Canada - a 50 year old using nicotine vapes to quit smoking is having problems.


I haven't once bought legal weed here in Canada because they aren't legally allowed to sell CO2 filtered vape cartridges.

Fortunately there's plenty of 'grey market' weed shops online and in the city to find vape product refills.

After using them I'm never going back to 'smoking' weed. It's seems so much dirtier and smellier that way, while the vape oil feels clean, filtered of everything but the useful THC part, and far more discrete when walking around with friends.

But the grey nature still makes it a concern. I hope the Canadian gov starts adopting vape pens as part of the legal code. But given the FUD against it I'm not holding my breath - which sadly should be the reason they do regulate it, not ignore it.

Personally, I'm not inhaling anything period. The risk/reward calculation just looks ridiculously unattractive to me. Fucking up your lungs, be it from tobacco, other vaporized products, solvents, paint, whatever, is just not worth it.

Glad to see my go-to product, Orchid Essentials, tested clean. Great product, great company.

I was confident they would. They post their lab tests on their website, and only provide PURE BHO with no additives.

They also use a ceramic heating element as opposed to a metal one which can break down over time.

I have always been worried about skeezy vape companies, so I did the research before I started using their product.

From the article, all the California regulated dispensaries tested safe while the “decriminalized” 1850’s world fair snake oil is killing people.

Who could have seen that coming?

another problem is you can buy the packaging for legit brands

The give away is that the THC and CDB test results are pre-printed on the box, instead of a STICKER on the package. Don't buy vape carts off the street yall.

Kinda worrying that they found "Heavy Hitters" to have pesticides, that brand is sold all around me here in CA at the legal shops.

Part of the problem is packaging from these brands are ripped off, produced in mass and sold on ebay. Anyone can buy these boxes and put their own carts in them and pass them off as legitimate. Many brands now have QR codes on the box you can scan for authenticity and laboratory test results. Im sure people will find a way to spoof those too.

They are already being spoofed.

It's crazy moving between legal and illegal states, the amount of knowledge and safety involved change dramatically. Those in illegal states have no idea about proper packaging, that they should be able to check test results online, etc. So just some QR code linking to a page full of non-sense fools them.

Right. Im in a legal state and grow myself. I do take some issue with the gate keeping for commercial grow licences but its important these products are properly produced, especially on the extraction side more so then the growing side. Once its legal everywhere this wont be much of an issue because products will be regulated and bootleg products will be pushed to the fringe. You wouldn't buy Tylenol in a back alley to save a buck or two when its available at CVS in a sealed package, same will eventually be true of cannabis concentrates.

exactly. it needs to be moved to the front sides of buildings, not the back alleys.

my brother who is pretty anti-cannabis visited recently so i took him to a dispensary, his mind was changed once he saw how it was all being ran and that rules were enforced, etc.


Why was this downvoted?

because legal citizens also grow with pesticides. Illegal aliens have nothing to do with the discussion.

Because it's bizarrely xenophobic and has nothing to do with the article?

The article makes no such connection.

I've been saying this about the entire vaping industry since day one. You don't know what you're putting into your body, and even if the 'base' substance is legit, you have no idea what contaminants might be present.

Doing illegal drugs has a clear danger of bodily harm due to counterfeit and contaminated substances.

What you say holds true for illegal drugs (once you are in an illegal market, you have limited ways to know what's in what you are taking, and no remedy against the company), but making it legal doesn't change that - you need regulation and oversight. It doesn't get any safer if questionable companies can continue to make low-quality or unsafe products without regulations against them.

>>Doing illegal drugs...

The problem isn't the legality (in many places these products are legal to sell, own and consume ignoring the federal prohibitions) it's the oversight and regulation. There was a lot of hasty roll out and it feels like a lot of states are catching up with these sort of regulatory issues well after they should have.

I don't think it's regulations, I think it's that with legalization, some things improved, but it also created a broad market for counterfeit products. There are arbitrary limits on production capacity (eg, a home grower can only have 6 plants, 3 of which are mature, etc) which is creating artificial scarcity. Also, high taxes are helping to push people into the black market.

In the case of other illegal drugs, there's just no telling what you're getting unless you watched someone make it yourself. A lot of illegal drugs are coming from overseas or developing nations generally. I'm sure they're using banned pesticides, slave and child labor, you name it, to make some of these drugs. There could be literally anything in those, it's just unsafe to consume.

>>I think it's that with legalization, some things improved, but it also created a broad market for counterfeit products.

I guess? I mean there's always been a market for counterfeit MJ products (everyone's heard the stories of people buying oregano at a concert) so I just don't feel like that's a "new" problem as much as a new version of an existing problem. Legalization and the general advent of e-cig/vaping products happened around the same time, so I don't know that we can separate what would have happened if pot had still been illegal but vaping had moved into it's current role the use.

>> Also, high taxes are helping to push people into the black market.

I think it's that people don't realize they're in the black market, which I view as a regulatory issue. Because everything exists in this quasi-legal (state yes, federal no) status, the industry hasn't really coalesced into a fully legit form. The legal, grey, and black markets all overlap constantly and people are confused about what they're buying. If I want to buy alcohol, I know when I'm buying a real product that had production standards vs something some dude made in his basement. Weed isn't at that place yet really.

Doing legal drugs also have a clear danger of bodily harm due to allowed substances. From cigarettes, Asprin and a host of other allowed substances can cause real harm.

The issue noted with carts can be traced back to the illegality of the drugs in question causing a market that allows this to flourish.

This happens to legal drugs, too.

Excedrin was recalled in 2012 and new stock was unavailable for almost a year.



Or this book, which is much more recent (2018) than the aforementioned article: http://www.ruwart.com/product/death-regulation will shed some light on the FDA. For those who want to get it off Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Death-Regulation-Robbed-Golden-Reclai...

Illegal drugs don't recalled. If you get a tainted batch from your dealer and it kills your friends, what do you do? File a class action lawsuit against "Tommy the drug dude?"

From the article: > FDA says there was a risk that it might be contaminated with opiate prescription drugs like morphine, which were made in the same plant

Yeah, contaminated with morphine (another drug of legitimate use), not pesticides that break down into hydrogen cyanide, rat poison, or whatever else might be present in whatever illegal drugs someone might be taking.

There is a surprising number of HN'ers irrationally committed to using and defending drugs.

You would think a site oriented toward engineers would have more... Hypochondriacs - people aware of the fragility of their system.

Maybe Im wrong about this being a site for engineers.

Or, perhaps you've committed yourself to a rather narrow understanding of what engineers are "like" ;)

Let's break this one down.

>>irrationally committed to using and defending drugs.

Why is it irrational? You get plenty of libertarians who think that "let me ruin my body if I so choose" types as well as SJW "the war on drugs is a war on minorities" types on here. There's plenty of very rational arguments in favor of drug policy reform.

>>You would think a site oriented toward engineers would have more... Hypochondriacs

This is a hot take on engineers. Also, why not also assume that there's plenty of anxious personality types who want to find something to help them relax? Never mind there's just a general predilection towards mammalian minds to find ways to get distorted perception experiences{1}.

>>Maybe Im wrong about this being a site for engineers.

You are. It's "hacker" news, not "developer news" for a reason. I personally know I identify more with "hacker" than "developer" or "engineer". There's an overlap, but it's not 1:1.


Drugs make you feel good. They release chemicals in your brain that say: "Yeah, more of that!"

There is a craft to producing the drugs. Home brewing beer and wine, growing a weed plant in the woods behind your house, these are fun hobbies which you get to enjoy and share the fruits of your labor.

A lot of extremely talented people choose to do drugs daily to kick back and augment their moods. Drugs can be taken in a social setting such that you feel a communal experience in having your perceptions altered in a similar way in the same moment. They lower inhibitions and give you the opportunity to indulge in your senses.

Humans have always done drugs and will continue to do so long after you and I are gone. Drugs have been used in coming of age rituals and celebrations for thousands of years. Just because you think "engineers" should be above such creature comforts does not mean your idea has any merit whatsoever.

“Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was important—creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could.” - Steve Jobs

> Drugs make you feel good. They release chemicals in your brain that say: "Yeah, more of that!"

I would like to add this:

Alongside factors such as peer pressure and cultural availability, drugs are instrumental means to valuable ends.

Muller and Schumann (2011) delineate the following well-established functions for non-addictive consumption: (1) improved social interaction; (2) facilitated mating and sexual behavior; (3) improved cognitive performance; (4) facilitated recovery and coping with psychological stress; (5) self-medication for mental problems; (6) sensory curiosity - expanded experiential horizon; and, finally, (7) euphoria and hedonia.

Plus, being against the War on Drugs does not mean that one would personally consume drugs.

For the curious I highly recommend a book titled "Addiction and Choice: Rethinking the relationship" by Nick Heather and Gabriel Segal: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/addiction-and-choice...

I can think of something that will make you a little less worried.

What you're saying doesn't make sense. I like to think of myself as a fairly rational and intelligent human being. I'd say I'm pretty good at my software engineering job. That doesn't matter in this conversation though. There doesn't have to be any overlap between who I am professionally and who I am at home.

Listen to what you're saying.

You can think of a substance that will make you less worried about the effects of that substance. Do you not see how that creates a feedback loop that becomes increasingly unmonitorable?

Maybe for you engineering is a job. For me it's a way of life. I can't turn off my perception of cause and effect when I go home for the day.

I mean, depending on how far you go down that rabbit hole, people who have personality disorders shouldn't take drugs that help treat their disorders because they alter their perception. You're more than entitled to that belief, but I know plenty of medical professionals who would point out that you're throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

We're all unreliable narrators. We want to believe we aren't, but we are. If you accept that, you can begin to understand that this isn't existing in a vacuum.

Let's say I smoke pot to relax, staying at home for the time I'm under the influence and generally just sort of hanging out. But I can also be aware of the fact that by it's nature, there's a possibility that I will be unable to determine when I need relaxation and when I need stressors for <reasons>. I can come up with all sorts of ways off the top of my head to deal with this potential problem.

You do you man. I hope you're happy. Free will and all that. You might be trying to engineer your best life. I might just be killing time. Objective morality doesn't exist though. It's all trade offs.

Or maybe engineers are more likely to see the body as a machine, and thus have more of an interest in things that can affect or change the functioning of that machine.

Personally, I think treating engineers as a homogeneous population is just fatally flawed.

Smart people have the ability to rationalize themselves into believing completely untrue things.

> Maybe Im wrong about this being a site for engineers.

You'll get a lot of engineers on engineering topics, but there seems to be a lot of engineering groupies on this site as well.

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