That better be a legal vape cartridge.
That better be a legal vape cartridge. Getty Images

Here’s yet another reason to make sure you only buy pot vape cartridges from legal, regulated sources: a new report from a California testing lab found dangerous levels of vitamin E acetate in every single black market vape cartridge they found. The federal government has linked vitamin E acetate to the fatal lung illness that has killed 40 people and affected thousands of vape users across the country.

The report, conducted by the ISO-accredited Cannasafe lab in Los Angeles, found staggering levels of vitamin E acetate, with all of their sampled cartridges showing over 30 percent of the dangerous cutting agent. None of the legal market vapes contained vitamin E acetate.

CannaSafe’s report confirms earlier reporting commissioned by NBC News in September, which found that 13 out of 15 samples from the black market had vitamin E acetate, while 10 out of 10 legal pot cartridges were free of the compound. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released lab results of lung samples from people who have fallen ill or died during the national lung illness outbreak and found that every single patient had vitamin E in their lungs.

This latest report from CannaSafe also found reasons other than just vitamin E to be wary of black market cartridges. The lab not only tested the contents of the cartridges, but also turned the cartridge on and tested what was in the vapor when the oil was heated. The cartridges emitted dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide, butadiene, a carcinogenic gas, hydrogen cyanide, a highly dangerous industrial chemical, and formaldehyde. The report did not find those compounds in the legal vape cartridges.

Formaldehyde has been associated with various cutting agents used in e-cigarettes and vape cartridges, not just vitamin E acetate. Cutting agents can turn into the dangerous compound after they are heated, which adds to the risk of vaping odd chemicals, according to the report.

“The uncertainty around the content of a vape cartridge is only increased when the unknown material is heated to produce the vapor inhaled by the user,” the report said.

The potential for cutting agents to break down into harmful chemicals should concern all vape users, but not all pot vape cartridges contain these non-cannabis compounds. In fact some cannabis companies have pioneered ways to make pot cartridges with nothing other than the pot itself. This latest report makes those legal, regulated cartridges sound like a pretty good option.