BRISTOL, Wis. — The drug bust shattered the early-morning stillness of this manicured subdivision in southeastern Wisconsin. The police pulled up outside a white-shuttered brick condo, jolting neighbors out of their beds with the thud of heavy banging on a door.
What they found inside was not crystal meth or cocaine or fentanyl but slim boxes of vaping cartridges labeled with flavors like strawberry and peaches and cream. An additional 98,000 cartridges lay empty. Fifty-seven Mason jars nearby contained a substance that resembled dark honey: THC-laced liquid used for vaping, a practice that is now at the heart of a major public health scare sweeping the country.nytimes.comAdvertisements
There’s no doubt that many adults have turned to vaping as a safer alternative to cigarettes. Vaping provides people with nicotine (at a far lower percentage than that of cigarettes) without inhaling tar and other harmful chemicals associated with cigarettes. Not to mention, vaping as compared to cigarettes is cleaner and an odor free option. There has always been a certain amount of hesitation and uncertainty when it comes to using vaping products. There is just so much unknown about the long-term effects of vaping because it is such a relatively new thing. But recently a new period in the “vaping era” has begun because of illness and deaths caused by vaping. If you are at a party or any kind of public event nowadays and you pull out a Juul or other vaping device, you will get people looking at you like you have leprosy. “Have you not watched the news?!” Of course people are overreacting and treating the situation as if one puff off of your vaping device will cause immediate respiratory failure. The media is trying to create a culture of fear to dissuade young people from vaping. I 100% agree that it is a great idea to teach young people about the dangers of vaping and to urge them not to partake in any type of nicotine consumption, but frankly, it sucks for adults that are currently vaping to try to quit smoking. The fear radiates throughout society and the uncertainty keeps growing.
I am glad that we are now starting to find out what is causing some of the illness and deaths caused by vaping. This raid in Wisconsin provided us with great insight into what might be causing the vaping illnesses and deaths. Very eyeopening if you ask me. These drug dealers are buying empty vape cartridges online and hiring people to fill these cartridges with a THC laced liquid for sale on the street. What we are finding out is quite unbelievable; it turns out that drug dealers are only in it to make money and they really don’t care about the health of their customers. So instead of filling these vape cartridges with purely THC laced liquid, they are cutting the liquid with another type of oil. In this case, the oil they are using to cut the THC liquid is Vitamin E acetate, which can cause respiratory illness. Inserting the Vitamin E acetate in the vape cartridge allows the drug dealer to make a higher profit by using less THC. So these people are making this liquid concoction containing toxic chemicals, filling vape cartridges with this liquid, and packaging the cartridges in counterfeit packaging for sale on the street. The counterfeit packaging often looks exactly like packaging used for THC vaping products in states like Colorado and California where THC is legal. It certainly looks like there is a huge black market for THC vape cartridges in the US. During this raid in Wisconsin, authorities found 98,000 empty vape cartridges waiting to be filled. This operation must have stayed pretty busy; by the looks of their inventory, they had a lot of customers. I just can’t imagine how many of these “operations” are operating in the United States of America as we speak. Scary scary stuff.