LOS ANGELES, Calif. – California officials announced Monday that marijuana vape cartridges seized in illegal shops in Los Angeles contained potentially dangerous additives, including a thickening agent blamed for a national outbreak of deadly lung illnesses tied to vaping.
Officials also found that the illegal vapes confiscated in the December raids typically were not as potent as advertised, and sometimes contained just a fraction of the THC claimed on the labels, according to state testing results. THC is the chemical in marijuana that makes users feel high.
The findings highlight the risk for consumers at underground shops and delivery services that are common in Los Angeles and elsewhere around California, officials said.
“The prevalence of dirty and dangerous vape pens at unlicensed cannabis stores demonstrate how important it is for consumers to purchase cannabis goods from licensed retailers, which are required to sell products that meet state testing and labeling standards,” said Lori Ajax, who heads California's Bureau of Cannabis Control.
The state conducted tests on the marijuana oil contained in a random sample of more than 10,000 illegal vape pens seized in the Los Angeles raids.
The tests found that 75% of the vapes contained undisclosed additives, including the thickening agent vitamin E acetate, which has been blamed by federal regulators for the majority of lung illnesses tied to the outbreak.
In some samples, oil in the cartridges was diluted by more than one-third by potentially dangerous and undisclosed additives.
Nearly all the samples were labeled with incorrect THC content, the state found. For example, one cartridge claimed the oil was up to 85% THC, but actually contained 33% THC. Some vape products seized from the unlicensed stores contained as little as 18% THC.