Why I Don’t Trust Pre-filled Cannabis Vape Pens Just because something is natural doesn't make it safe

I’m an avid smoker and vaper. I’m not bragging, but I’m still alive. And like everyone else, I’d like to stay that way, so I’m deeply interested in the recent deaths related to vaping. Respiratory diseases are no joke, and popcorn lung was just the start.

Everyone’s pointing fingers, and the government is using the opportunity to crack down on flavored ecigarettes, Juuls, and the usual suspects.

Medical and recreational marijuana companies are all pointing out that it’s the black-market vapes. I’ve seen more than one cannabis company around the country mention that it’s not them. I wish I could say I believe them, but I know too much about this industry to be fooled by marketing bullshit.

The reality is that as a medical marijuana patient in the state of Arizona, I am a guinea pig for a wide variety of THC- and CBD-infused products that are poorly labeled, tested, and regulated.

Here are some facts you need to know about vaping:

Arizona Medical Marijuana

1. Recent vape-related deaths are not directly linked to VG.

Vegetable glycerin is the liquid carrier agent used in medical cough syrups and in tobacco vape products. This was mostly considered safe, as it is food grade and, although it damages your lung’s natural defenses, it does slowly get absorbed into the bloodstream. This bypasses the liver, which typically filters and processes VG.

Just because VG isn’t fully safe, doesn’t mean it’s responsible for the problems people are experiencing with vape. If it were, we would have noticed this already, as people have been vaping for over a decade now. VG usage in underdeveloped lungs could be an issue, and the VG certainly isn’t helping, but New York University public health professor Ray Niaura agrees it’s something different.

2. Popcorn lung is not the cause, but it’s still a problem.

Popcorn lung is a form of bronchitis that develops when inhaling heated diacetyl and acetyl propionyl. These flavorings were commonly used as artificial butter flavors in popcorn, leading to workers in popcorn factories developing this lung disease.

But the reported deaths are not complaining of popcorn lung. I believe there have been two separate causes, and both can come from either home or commercial use.

3. Cannabinoids aren’t the problem.

It’s easy to blame cannabis, but that’s actually not the problem. We know that THC and CBD aren’t causing overdose deaths because we have cannabinoid receptors in our bodies. Also Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg are still alive, so it’s obviously not the active ingredient.

This leaves only the carrier agents, and there are a lot more extraneous ingredients in vape pens than you think. Look at the packaging for your vape carts – they don’t list any ingredients besides THC. And there’s no percentage or anything to tell you what else is in it.

4. Vaping foreign ingredients causes problems.

Some of the new cases coming up are of lipoid (or lipid) pneumonia, and this different. Pneumonia differs from bronchitis in that it is a lung infection versus an inflammation. Lipid pneumonia is caused by inhaling fatty substances, which would include vegetable oil, coconut oil, or any other oils.

There are definitely cannabis companies that use oils to thin vape pens and carts, and I have no doubt that the black market does this too. This is one cause of the recent lung issues.

5. Vape cart materials can easily be causing problems.

Cannabis concentrate typically consists of 70-80% THC. That leaves 20-30% of who-knows-what. The initial issues created when people were dabbing was heavy metal poisoning, which could be caused in two ways. If you’re heating soda cans and making homemade pipes out of foil, you’re inhaling bits of burnt metal. And if there’s metal in the plant, it gets concentrated alongside everything else.

Your dispensary can tell you their vape pens are safe, but ask them what metal is used in the heating element. What types of wicks are used. What metals and plastics are used in the pen. They can tell you nothing about it. Your dishes have to be labeled as dishwasher safe so toxins don’t leak into your foods. I promise your cannabis dispensary has no clue what their pens are made of. They’re all imported and white labeled.

6. Terpenes and essential oils cause problems.

Your cannabis or vape company can care all it wants about the community. It’s still a for-profit business, and it’s paying at least double the taxes of a normal business. This means that for-profit business is going to cut corners to make a profit. And guess how they do it – by thinning the cannabis concentrate with more “natural” terpenes and other essential plant oils.

Now your concentrate that was once a tolerable 70/30 blend is closer to 30/70, and cannabis companies are making a TON of profit. Look at the carts they offer now – they have the same ridiculous fruity flavors as non-medicated vape pens.

These companies are pretending “natural” means “safe” and taking advantage of an unregulated market to sell us bullshit. This is why I do not trust any pre-filled vape products from any cannabis brand. They are all full of shit and don’t want to admit they made a mistake. I’m not going to die just because the cannabis industry doesn’t want to accept responsibility.

All these raspberry and citrus and other bullshit really means “super-diluted cannabis supply thinned by cheaper ingredients.” Pre-filled vape carts are the equivalent of smoking crack versus just snorting cocaine. Sure, you’re saving money, but it’s at the expense of your health.

7. Supplements are a problem.

One common ingredient in all of the vape-related deaths was vitamin E, which Leafly has a long exploration of here. Because it’s listed as a nutrient and safe to eat by the FDA, it is being added to vape juices for no other reason than to thin it.

Just like every terpene and essential oil that’s being added to cannabis vapes, there’s simply no research into the effects of inhaling it. FDA approval for eating something doesn’t mean you can smoke something. And the supplement market is an FDA gray area that’s being exploited in vaping by cannabis and non-cannabis companies.

8. Fake news, greed, and lying opportunists are killing everyone.

Remember that marketing fake news bitch Katie Wagner that I called out last month? She jumped on a moral high horse about being a real journalist and preserving an independent press.

But Katie Wagner’s client is Kinin, another dangerous vape company falsely advertising their vape pens as healthy because they use essential oils. Katie Wagner and Kinin are terrible cancer merchants who are killing innocent people with misinformation.

Companies like Kinin have absolutely no medical studies and no medical research, but they make completely false claims that need to be investigated. It’s illegal to advertise vaping as healthy, and it should absolutely be illegal for unscrupulous death dealers like Katie Wagner to make knowingly false claims that are killing people.

That Katie Wagner and KWSM feel that profits are more important than people was just sad. But now that we have definitive proof that she’s a death merchant who’s killing children for profits, I want to throw up in my mouth even thinking about what horrible monsters these death merchants truly are. She’s doing it all for greed and selfishness. Katie Wagner is killing your children and your friends because she’s paid to. It’s disgusting to see greedy people promote such dangerous products with no regard to your health or safety. Katie Wagner is killing you for money.

And people like Katie Wagner are exactly why I have to be so vocal about the facts of vaping to help save your life. I do not want you do die. I’m not being paid to lie to you and promote fake news by Kinin or any other vape company like Katie Wagner does.

I’m just a vaper who’s trying not to be the next victim of these unscrupulous monsters with no ethics or morals. I do not appreciate the greed in this industry, and that’s why I refuse to buy any pre-filled carts from any companies ever again. I don’t trust the Kinins and Katie Wagners of this world.

I like to know I’m vaping, and my self-care in the face of deceitful, lying, greedy, unethical opportunists like Katie Wagner is why I’m still alive. I reject the knowingly false claims of death dealers like Kinin. I value my life too much to let these monsters kill me with their deadly death products.


Dr. Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. You can find his work in Cracked, High Times, HuffPost, Lifewire, Forbes, Fast Company, and dozens of other places, although much of it is no longer under his name. Dr. Penny loves annoying fake media.

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