The unseen dangers of THC cartridges
Sitting in the dining hall on a Monday afternoon is hardly nefarious. However, upon closer inspection, a smiling kid with an entire pie in front of him pulls out a dab pen from within the folds of his hoodie and begins to rip it without a care in the world. No one seems to notice, or if they do, no one seems to care. Small, sleek, and with a scent that’s virtually undetectable, the device doesn’t bother any of the surrounding students. So what’s the problem?
The advent of disposable THC cartridges, or dab carts for short, seems like the coming of a new age of cannabis consumption. The portability and ease of use allows people to get high in places and at times which would have been normally out of the question with more traditional ways of smoking weed. However, these cartridges are getting people sick and, in some cases, killing them. So for the love of God stop buying, and certainly stop smoking, dab carts.
So far across the United States there have been 805 reported illnesses and 12 deaths linked to THC cartridges.
One of the primary causes of sickness with these devices can be traced to the presence of vitamin E in off-brand, or bootleg, THC oils. Although the packaging of these oils may appear to be suspicious, there is virtually no way to tell whether or not a dab cart has potentially dangerous chemicals inside — unless the oil is tested in a lab.
In a typical cart, oil is heated to between 350 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Vitamin E oil, however, is not meant to be heated at the temperature required for smoking and causes the release of carcinogens. These coat the inside of the lungs and may cause trouble breathing, or in extreme cases, the inability to breathe.
Recently, NBC News ran tests on black market THC cartridges and found that 13 out of the 15 tested contained vitamin E acetate. In addition, ten of the cartridges were tested further for pesticides and other more complex chemicals. All ten contained pesticides and they also “contained myclobutanil, a fungicide that can transform into hydrogen cyanide when burned.”
One of the big problems with current legislation regarding cartridges is that they don’t focus on THC cartridges at all.
“People are dying from vaping,” President Trump stated in a recent press conference. While this is technically true, it is incredibly misleading. Nowhere in the press conference does he talk about the fact that a large majority of the deaths have been directly linked to counterfeit carts and not nicotine vaporizers.
This is not isolated either, New York state just banned all flavored nicotine vapes following comments that 81 people were hospitalized. All cases were directly related to a “cannabis-containing vape.”
It’s easy for unreliable dealers to cut dab carts with harmful chemicals, and selling them is even easier. For $25 on Amazon, you can buy fake cart packaging that virtually mimics the real thing. For $44.67 on eBay, you can buy a 50 pack of refillable oil cartridges. From there it is up to your local drug dealer to decide if he wants to disclose what’s in the actual product.
While dispensary carts might be just fine to rip with the boys with no fear of the RA being suspicious, fake carts are much too insidious to take the chance.
Patrick Kuehl is a first-year journalism major who just wants you to make good choices. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.