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OWN #25 | 23-29 Sept 2019

The CDC names some black market THC e-liquids responsible for the outbreak of lung disease in the US, but the worldwide anti-vaping campaign is in full force as Israel bans flavoured e-liquid with the aim on an outright ban of vaping. Juul CEO steps down and is replaced by "Big Tobacco Big Shot". Buckle up...

The chilling tale of a tainted cart

It seems to be all but confirmed that tainted black market THC (cannabis) carts are responsible for most (if not all) the recent lung disease cases across the US. Leafly, a US based cannabis news site, carried out their own investigation into this issue and what they found was, simply put, chilling.

Their journalists tracked down some of the sources of the cartridges, packaging, and, most importantly, cutting agents used in these "tainted carts". Due to the lack of regulation on black market products, these items are all of a highly questionable nature, but by themselves they are not illegal. This highlights the problem that prohibition does not stop products from being sold and use, it merely takes them underground which can lead to dangerous, untested products.

Even though these products are THC based (for the most part), it is just as likely that this might happen to flavoured e-liquids if the US intends to follow through on their planned federal flavour ban. Many people will try and get what they want legally, but failing to do so they might turn to black market products if needed.

Read this article in its entirety and note how easy (and legal) it is for all these products to be distributed in a country with strong controls, such as the US, and then imagine how that same market can thrive locally - it's frightening.

Hopefully our government takes a "big picture" view of what is going on and implements reasonable regulations that will keep people safe - a vape/flavour ban or overreaching regulations will create a dangerous black market.

Update on the US lung disease epidemic

There have been more deaths (up to 13 now) and a steep increase in identified cases, now over 800, this week.

The CDC has released the brand names of some of the suspected culprits. Tainted THC carts branded as Dank Vapes were found to have been used by around two thirds of the affected people. Other brands include Moon Rocks, Off White and TKO.

Various states across the US has banned vaping in an emergency response to the crisis. Bit of a knee-jerk reaction, but without a 100% confirmed cause (as of publication date) it is understandable.

Big Tobacco takes the reigns of the largest US vaping company

The CEO of Juul stepped down this week and, in a surprise twist (sarcasm), has been replaced by K.C. Crosthwaite, the Chief Growth Officer from Altria (one of the largest US tobacco companies) who owns a 35% stake in Juul.

I actually have no words. The wolf is now the shepherd.

This will make it increasingly difficult for those of us who hate tobacco and the overlords who forced it down the world's throat (literally) to sound credible when we try to defend vaping.

For better or worse (and it's definitely worse), vaping is now being represented by big tobacco. It is a sad day for vapers everywhere.

More mass hysteria as Israel bans flavoured e-liquid

What more can I say - everyone who's wanted to get rid of vaping, for whatever reason, is jumping on the current panic around vaping and driving their agendas to the finish line.

The Ministry of Health’s website notes that there is no difference between e-cigarettes and standard cigarettes in terms of health and nicotine addiction.

And there you have it...it's easy to ignore the countless studies and common sense showing vaping to be less harmful that cigarettes when you have an epidemic to cover it up with.

Stupidity (or greed, you choose) will prevent one of the greatest tools in the fight against tobacco smoke from saving lives. Smoking is still legal in Israel, and around 8000 Israelis die from it each year - I rest my case.

In closing

As a vaper, and manufacturer of e-liquid, it's difficult to remain objective on these subjects. Manufacturing of anything people will consume requires care and attention to potential contaminants. In a non-regulated environment, such as locally, that comes down to an ethical choice - we choose to manufacture in clean environments and take care not to introduce any contaminants.

This is almost never true of black market products - those that are manufactured and sold illegally. Here every corner is cut and every attempt at maximising profit is made. This is exactly how the current epidemic got started - cutting agents used to dilute products and maximize profit seem to be the culprit.

Unless proper regulation - not prohibition - is introduced, this is not the last we'll hear of disease from illegal products. The same can be said of just about any product that people consume - if it's properly regulated then controls are in place to prevent contaminants and, in the case of an outbreak of some kind, finding the source of a contaminant is that much easier.

As history teaches us, prohibition simply drives the manufacturing and sale of a (highly desired) product underground - exactly what should be avoided. In the midst of an epidemic it is however difficult to think rationally - people are emotional beings. Hopefully once the dust settles there is still some part of this industry left standing to rebuild - failure of which will result in more people dying from smoking as they have been for decades.

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