Lost in the utter madness that came to define 2020 was a level-headed look back at the rapid rise and fall of the nationwide controversy in 2019 that came to be known by many as “VapeGate”.
As a brief refresher, beginning in April of 2019, news began to break of people being hospitalized with a mysterious and in some cases deadly respiratory illness. While the degree of severity varied from patient to patient, they all had one thing in common – they had all recently used a vape pen to puff on a pre-filled vaporizer cartridge or pod.
As cases rose throughout 2019, the official and inelegant acronym for the illness became EVALI – E-Cigarette or Vaping Product use Associated Lung Injury.
By the end of 2019, the national death toll stood at 60 with over 2,700 Americans having been hospitalized from EVALI and researchers were confident that the source of the problem was, specifically, vape carts containing cannabis oil, as opposed to nicotine-based e-cig “juice”.
Even more specifically, the main culprit turned out to be foreign substances being used as fillers or leveling agents to add viscosity to ultra-thick cannabis oil. Vitamin E Acetate was identified as the ingredient most likely responsible for the thankfully brief wave of illness and loss of life.
Some seized vape carts contained oil cut by as much as 50% with the harmful additive.
It was fascinating to watch the industry do most of the detective work on Vitamin E Acetate, and the police work of rooting out the suppliers of these unsafe and unnecessary products.
As the hospitalizations and fatalities went away, so did the bombastic media coverage surrounding and misrepresenting vaping products and the people who use them.
Then, of course, 2020 was dominated early on by news of a different respiratory illness – Coronavirus – which would put VapeGate in perspective and, unfortunately, continues to command news coverage now in 2021.
So, what did America really learn from EVALI, or VapeGate and more importantly, is vaping safe… or not?
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT VAPING SAFELY
Pinpointing Vitamin E Acetate as the toxic ingredient at the root of the vaping crisis of 2019 may have seemed like too simple of a solution, but it makes sense when you look at the bigger picture.
Vaping nicotine products or cannabis products had been gaining in popularity for nearly a decade leading up to 2019 and while there were some cases of hospitalizations related to vaping during that timeframe, they were very rare and were never connected to one another by medical professionals.
Now, in hindsight, seeing the rapid spike in cases and deaths related to vaping – which both ceased just as abruptly as they began – lends perfectly to some change in the market during that spike. That change was the introduction of cleverly branded Vitamin E Acetate products to the supply side of the vaping market before anyone had figured out if it was safe to consume or not.
When we look specifically at cannabinoid-rich, cannabis-derived vape cartridges, those sold on in legal, regulated markets across the country are subjected to stringent laboratory testing to rule out even trace amounts of contaminants like pesticides, molds, and now in many cases, unapproved leveling agents like Vitamin E Acetate.
However, it is not just the cannabis oil that must be held to such a high standard for consumer safety. We also know that the actual hardware being used to vape the oil – the vape pen itself – must also be manufactured with the user’s wellness in mind.
With that in mind, many of the testing labs in those regulated markets are now testing the actual vape cartridge hardware itself for the presence of any inferior components that could leech toxic heavy metals into the oil once the cart is filled and sits on a shelf for a while.
By establishing legal, regulated cannabis markets, states set mandates for safer products, and we know that benefits everyone.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
Ok, so legalization is leading to safer cannabis oil and safer vape cart hardware, and that should be the end of the story, right?
Clearly, cannabis consumers worldwide have had their confidence in vaping safety restored, or emboldened, by the relatively fast resolution to EVALI, as vaporizing cannabis flowers and cannabis oil continues to gain in popularity.
Unfortunately, there is still one aspect of the vape experience that is flying under the radar of regulation, and that is the rest of vape hardware like the battery, or the heating element, or the materials used in the construction of self-contained vaporizers that do not utilize cartridges.
While we see new regulations being written all the time to ensure that safe, lab-tested cannabis extracts are being pushed to the public, there is nearly no oversight on the tools that consumers will use to vape those extracts.
These days, you’ll see various forms of vaporizer technology being sold almost everywhere you go, but where does it come from? Is it safe to use? Why is there such a disparity in vape pen pricing?
Those same questions are often asked about high-grade hash as well, and the answer remains the same for both: You must know your source.
VAPING SAFELY MEANS KNOWING YOUR SOURCE
The old adage that “You get what you pay for…” rings especially true when you’re in the market for new vaporizer hardware and your goal is vaping safely.
Though you don’t need to break the bank to get what you need, it stands to reason that the budget batteries and pens on Amazon or at your local corner store are cutting corners somewhere to arrive at that unrealistic price. When it comes to vaping safely, you cannot cut corners.
Just as important as price, though, is accountability.
If your goal is to vape safely, the good news is that it is easier to accomplish than ever before!
When you invest in vape hardware from a company like SkyBlue Vapor, you enter a professional relationship with a brand built from the grassroots, up. A brand founded on ideals like trust, reliability, quality, and safety. Ideals that ought to be commonplace but are far too rare in the vaporizer industry.
The bottom line is that the crew at SkyBlue would not sell this gear if it wasn’t safe. The SkyBlue Vapor product line represents years of in-house research and development to arrive at what is considered to be the most consumer-friendly vaping products on the market today. All SkyBlue vaporizers and accessories are crafted with either medical grade and/or food grade components. These vape pens were designed around the needs of the medical marijuana patient.
Perhaps one of the biggest lessons learned in 2020 was that the perceived convenience of ordering cheap products from faceless overseas entities comes at a huge cost to our own sustainable lifestyles as consumers.
It also creates a market for crooked and corrupt companies to cut the crucial corners that are put in place to keep us safe.
As you tighten the links of your own personal supply chain, consider adding one for SkyBlue Vapor, a company you can trust to do what’s right for you.