In the United States, the market for cannabis is going up high as a kite.
ArcView Market Research backs this up in their report which shows that the demand for cannabis concentrates alone increased a whopping 49% and worth almost $3 billion in sales in 2018. This obviously only takes into consideration legal sales of cannabis concentrates, as there is no way to know the volume of black-market sales.
The study also predicts that by 2022 the concentrate industry will grow all the way up to $8.4 billion, almost the same as smokable flowers.
Cannabis concentrates are kind of a “One size fits all” term, as it can mean everything from hash to distillate to BHO, but according to the same report, 58% of concentrate sales in 2018 came from prefilled vape pen cartridges. The main appeal of vape pens is that they are discreet, easy to use and most important of all, potent, with THC levels going well over 70%.
Like in every booming market counterfeits and fakes have started to flood the market, especially in states where the use of cannabis cartridges is not legal yet.
Counterfeiters are marketing fake vape cartridges using the imagery and intellectual property of actual legitimate companies based in California like Brass Knuckles and Heavy Hitters.
You can read more about these ‘Fake’ Vape Cartridge Brands if you aren't sure what you have.
The counterfeiting markets work the same across most industries, fake products are made of cheaper materials and use unregulated methods even if said practices may result in dangerous chemicals or substances that can harm the user.
So, the question arises, what are the worst toxins that are present in fake vape cartridges?
The fact remains that vape pens are great for dosing and give the user some safety benefits.
But many questions what is actually inside said cartridges.
There have been reports of cannabis testing labs in California finding toxic metals in vape carts, which have caused concerns in the cannabis industry for both consumers and the regulatory bodies.
Most consumers use vape pens for cannabis consumption given that they perceive the practice to be healthier than regular smoking, but the possibility of inhaling lead along with your cannabis concentrate defeats the point of using a vaping device. And is that lead exposure poses a significant risk to the health of any person.
There is no “Safe amount” of lead that you can be exposed to and that is why most governments have been so resilient in banning everything from lead paint to leaded gasoline. Lead is a toxic substance that accumulates in the body affecting various systems of the body. Lead is distributed throughout the body until it reaches the brain, liver, kidneys, and bones and is deposited in teeth and bones, where it accumulates over time.
Lead poisoning can cause a variety of symptoms, such as abdominal pain, anemia, headache, and decreased sperm count and sperm abnormalities.
The presence of pesticides in the cannabis oil present in black-market cartridges is also a significant concern, given that counterfeit vape cartridges go unregulated and can include anything the grower or manufacturer added to the mixture.
This includes low-quality cannabis oils. And getting a mild high is the last of your concerns, as it that cannabis grows like any other plant and it is susceptible to both environmental stress and pests.
This is especially true when cultivators try to develop a strain that is not suited for their region. Thus resulting in the cultivator using loads of chemical sprays and pesticides to help the plant grow healthy. And of course, there are natural approaches that can help the plant grow, but most time they are not as effective as they require more labor, and don’t guarantee the results that their chemical counterpart boast. However, some of these chemical elements are harmful to humans, some are known carcinogens, others are awful for the environment.
The worst part is that some of these chemicals remain in the flowers and are extracted, thus making their way into the cannabis oils.
Pesticide intoxication can be dangerous especially since there is not only one pesticide, some of the pesticides that have been found in black-market vape cartridges are, Bifenazate, Tebuconazole, Permethrin, and Hexythiazol, just to name a few. Each one of them has different effects on the human body.
Is it worth it?
Now the question is, why risk it?
Is the possibility of getting exposed to lead or having pesticides in your body worth the $15 you are saving by buying shady cartridges from that guy in the gym?
Of course, if you live in a state where the use of vape carts is not legal yet the two best things you can do are, making sure that the stuff you are getting is legit and calling your legislators to support marijuana legalization to ensure that you can get a safe lab-tested product.