Vaping versus THC Carts
September 11th 2019 8:00am
Vaping versus THC Carts

September 11th, 2019 

As North American media, US Lawmakers and health officials continue to report on the vaping related illnesses within the United States in a vague and misleading way, it is essential that both consumers and the general public be provided with the facts. The Canadian Vaping Association (CVA) implore health officials to inform the public on the fundamental difference between vaping nicotine e-liquid versus vaping cannabis concentrate cartridges or “THC carts”. The announcement by President Trump and his administration that they are in the process of banning the use of flavours in nicotine e-liquid is not only flawed but is also a danger to public health. 

It must be made clear to the public at large that “vaping” is a harm reduction tool when used as an alternative to smoking. Unfortunately, the nomenclature commonly used for this alternative has prejudice already built-in as a result of the term “e-cigarette”. This terminology has caused media to link vaping directly to combustible tobacco and the negative health consequences that accompany smoking. It is inappropriate that this alternative to combustible tobacco is being categorized by the media as an electronic version of a cigarette when a multitude of scientific evidence shows that it is instead an extremely successful harm reduction tool with no history of negative health consequences. In fact, vaping e-liquid contains a combination of only four components, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Flavouring and Nicotine, a vast difference from the 600 components in cigarettes. Additionally, many of the 600 hundred components in cigarettes are either carcinogenic or extremely harmful to the lungs, whereas the four components of vaping e-liquids, when mixed in the appropriate ratios, have never been associated with any lung issues or other illnesses on record. In order to combat the extremely misleading bias that these products are similar to combustible tobacco, the vaping industry has been actively encouraging the public and the media to use an alternative nomenclature, such as “vaping”, “vaping technology” or “vaping products” rather than “e-cigarette” or the act of “smoking an e-cigarette”. 

Unfortunately, vaping is facing this homonym issue again, as the act of vaporizing THC carts is now also being commonly referred to as “vaping”. It is important to make a distinction between the liquid in the THC carts and nicotine e-liquid since these are two completely different products. Although the THC cartridges themselves both resemble and function similarly to standard nicotine vaping hardware products, the liquid itself could not be more dissimilar. In ideal scenarios, these cartridges are filled with THC distillate, which is produced by extracting and refining THC using heat, with no need for a solvent. Other THC concentrates are made using solvents like CO2 or butane and, while it is not prudent to speculate about what may be in the black-market cartridges causing the health issues in the US, we do know that heating or inhaling many such solvents poses a major health concern. Additionally, under ideal conditions THC carts would be filled with pure distillate – however, THC distillate is incredibly potent (often 99% pure THC) and is not suitable for every user. Diluting the distillate to a more manageable strength is a challenge since it does not form a homogenous solution when mixed with Glycerin or Propylene Glycol. As a result, alcohol and oils (such as sunflower or MCT oils) are commonly used, but it is known that these diluents should not be heated and inhaled as they have been tied to serious lung conditions such as lipoid pneumonia. 

Finally, as the CDC and FDA have been investigating the black-market THC carts, it has been widely reported in the media that many of these products (though not all) contain vitamin E acetate – a common vitamin supplement that is typically added to topical skin and hair products, and that has been associated with lung conditions when inhaled. While the world awaits the reports on the CDC and FDA’s findings, it is not unimaginable that this supplemental compound found its way into the illicit cartridges, thus causing many of the issues currently being investigated. 

It is currently estimated that there are over 40 million adult vapers globally, with almost two decades of history behind nicotine vaping products and their use both in the United States and around the world. The fact is that, over these two decades of use, there have been absolutely no lung issues associated with traditional e-liquid vaping products or e-liquids. Reports coming out of the United States are focused around incidents that have occurred in the past few months; these issues are not related to vaping e-liquids or the multitude of flavours that have been available for decades now but to the non-regulated black-market products that have become available of late. 

By banning access to flavoured nicotine e-liquid, lawmakers are creating a massive public health risk in the United States. This threatened ban will serve only to drive those who have used this life-saving tool to quit smoking either to the black-market for their e-liquid products, thus resulting in an increased risk of lung issues, or else back to combustible tobacco which is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide. As historical data shows the use of nicotine vape products for almost 20 years with zero lung issues, the facts can’t be ignored. Vaping of traditionally flavoured nicotine e-liquid is not the problem; the failure is in allowing bias against this life-saving platform and suppressing education that would allow consumers to distinguish between nicotine e-liquids and other non-regulated products. By focusing attention on the wrong issues, we will miss out on the opportunity to deliver the appropriate policies required to protect our youth while providing the tools necessary to combat the world’s leading form of preventable illness and death – combustible tobacco. 


Darryl Tempest, Executive Director, CVA

Latest Releases

September 10th 2019
CVA Position on Flavours