Minnesota officials seize 77,000 illegal THC vape cartridges worth $3.8 million as CDC warns bootleg e-cigs may be linked to hundreds of illnesses
- Police and health department officials confiscated nearly 77,000 bootleg cartridges in New Hope, Minnesota
- The haul was worth $3.8 million and branded as ‘Dank Vapes’
- 530 people in the US have been sickened with life-threatening lung illnesses linked to vaping
- Health officials aren’t sure what is driving the lung damage, have suspect vitamin E oils in bootleg vapes may be to blame
Minnesota police seized some 77,000 illegal THC vape cartridges, officials announced on Tuesday.
US health officials suspect that vitamin E acetate found in many bootleg, THC-laced e-liquids may be to blame for many of the 530 cases of severe lung damage linked to vaping.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have stopped short of warning against all vaping, it is urging Americans not to buy or use bootleg products and cautioned it expects ‘hundreds more’ vaping-linked illnesses.
Department of Public Safety officials said that the seizure is the largest of its kind in the state to-date, and estimated the value of the counterfeit goods at $3.8 million.
A huge stash of nearly 77,000 illegal THC vapes in colorful packaging branded ‘Dank Vapes’ (pictured) was confiscated in Minnesota Monday by law enforcement officials as US health officials warned bootleg e-cigs may be to blame for hundreds of lung illnesses
‘To say the least, the investigators who led this investigation were surprised at the quantity, said New Hope, Minnesota Police Chief, Tim Fournier.
His police force helped the health department raid the storehouse, where they found cartridges were all branded as ‘Dank Vapes.’
The products bore names suggesting sweet flavors and even children’s cereals, like ‘Cherry Kush,’ ‘Fruity Pebbles’ and ‘Apple Jacks’ officials said in the press conference.
‘Companies target our young people,’ said Daniel Huff, assistant commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health.
‘When you are selling cotton candy flavored and bubble gum flavored products, we suspect that is targeting children.’
Michigan and New York have already banned flavored e-cigarettes, and Massachusetts has placed a temporary four-month ban on all e-cigarettes.
It’s legal for adults to vape THC and CBD in Minnesota, where medical marijuana was legalized in 2014.
But the state keeps tight oversight of these products.
There are just two sanctioned medical marijuana e-cigarette makers in the state, which are closely regulated by government officials.
Last week, they addressed users, promising that their products were safe and legal to use, the Pioneer Press reported.
Marijuana is not legal for recreational use in the state in any form, however, including vaping.
Nonetheless, the drug has only grown in popularity and vaping is well on its way to becoming the most popular form of consumption.
Bootleggers in Minnesota and other states have seen this as an opportunity and modified what would be legitimate vape cartridges sand e-liquids to contain THC and, in some cases, even use counterfeit packaging to pass them off as the real things.
Meanwhile, some 530 Americans have been diagnosed with what doctors are calling a ‘new lung disease’ that’s cost at least nine people their lives.
While CDC, FDA and state health officials are still puzzled over what exactly might be in vapes that is making so many Americans – mostly young adult ones – so sick, one possibility was discovered in THC vapes.
Of the samples that they collected from vaping illness patients, the vast majority of the THC ones were found to have a compound called vitamin E acetate, which has been linked to lung damage.
Other researchers have suggested that the indiscriminate addition of oils – like THC and CBD ones – to legitimate vape cartridges and liquids may be to blame.
‘We urge everyone: do not use illegal THC cartridges,’ said Huff.
‘We currently have Minnesota children who are on mechanical ventilation due to this vaping injury.’