THC cartridges return to Michigan dispensaries after vitamin E acetate scare

Dec 16, 2019 at 11:36 am
click to enlarge Cannabis vaping cartridges. -
Cannabis vaping cartridges.

The wait is finally over, cannabis vapers.

Cannabis cartridges are returning to the shelves of dispensaries after the state’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) began requiring labs on Nov. 22 to test the products for vitamin E acetate, the chemical additive linked to the vaping-related lung illness.

The process took several weeks because only one of the state’s six licensed labs – PSI Labs in Ann Arbor – has been approved to do the testing, but “others are close,” David Harns, MRA spokesman, tells Metro Times.

As of Monday, PSI Labs CEO Benjamin Rossman said his facility has tested nearly 1,000 cartridges for vitamin E acetate, a gooey substance often used in the black market to "cut" or dilute cannabis oil to maximize profits.

But Metro Times has learned that the state is not requiring cartridges to be tested for vitamin E acetate if they were made after the Nov. 22 ban.

"If a cartridge goes through the state process, it is not allowed to have vitamin E acetate," Harns tells Metro Times. "If the cartridge was produced before the ban, it has to be tested."

To ensure compliance, Harns said the state "will be conducting inspections at manufacturing facilities more often."

But without mandatory vitamin E testing, there's no way to guarantee a manufacturer is complying with the law.

"Up until now, we have been able to confidently say cannabis is a safe substance, but now for the first time, there is a legitimate health concern in the cannabis industry, so we should be doing everything in our power to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again," Rossman says. "A mandatory test for vitamin e acetate is a no-brainer."

It's too early to tell whether the lack of vitamin E testing will discourage some people from using cartridges, which have become one of the most popular products at dispensaries because they're compact, discreet, and easy to use. They generally range in price from $30 to $70 for a one-gram cartridge.

"They're wildly popular in Michigan," Rossman says. "The trend has been moving toward concentrates in general and cartridges specifically."

The lung illness linked to vitamin E acetate has caused the deaths of more than 50 people and sickened more than 2,500 others nationwide. Two of those deaths were in Michigan.

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