Unique Vape Buy-Back Program Provides Powerful Insights

by | Feb 10, 2020

Detroiter Karhlyle Fletcher is the host of High Lit, a cannabis research and classic literature podcast featuring leading voices and independent music. In addition to years in written and video cannabis journalism, he is also a traditional author.

From cyanide to lead, a global vaping crisis requires more than one contaminant. Unfortunately, due to a lack of regulatory agencies willing to process cannabis, and a lack of research, consumers are not armed with a plethora of information concerning cannabis vapor products. Infinite CAL recently partnered up with companies Platinum Vape and Mankind Dispensary in San Diego, CA, to test black market vapes that were collected during their innovative buyback program. The program exchanged black market products for a Platinum Vape cartridge to keep cannabis consumers safe. InfiniteCAL then tested the collected illicit cartridges for potency and harmful contaminants.

What Were the Results of the Vape Buy-Back Program?

Recently, Kristina Etter of Cannabis Tech had the privilege to sit down with Josh Swider, CEO, and Co-Founder of InfiniteCAL. During this conversation, shocking information came to light, including the fact that nearly 80 perfect of the vape products independently tested by InfiniteCAL failed safety tests. These samples were collected through a buyback program conducted with Platinum Vape and Mankind Dispensary. The reasons for failure were diverse. Some samples contained high levels of Vitamin E Acetate, while others tested positive for dangerous pesticides. Without regulation, these issues pose a threat to consumers as serious as a game of Russian Roulette.

Etter compared the buyback program to a dentist who offers a buyback option for children after Halloween in the interest of saving their teeth. The imagery is apt, but when the dentist worries about Halloween candy, they’re not usually worried about the presence of heavy metals and cutting agents.

“When we finally got the cannabis cartridges after the buyback, they were brought in house, and we saw a few different alarming statistics,” Swider explained. “The first one is 80% were unfit for consumption, with 62 percent of those cartridges failing for pesticides, and then also we had that scary vitamin E acetate showing up in these cartridges. 20 percent of cartridges contained heightened concentrations of vitamin E acetate.

The Illicit market is getting people ill. That’s just for profits; there are no ethics involved in that. Eleven of those samples contained something with a cyanide group in it. You don’t want cyanide when you’re inhaling these products. That’s something that the State of California doesn’t have a handle on. What happens when we inhale these pesticides or smoke them or vape them, you heat them to very high chemicals, and you can get a lot of dangerous products released from these things.

There’s a lot more to say on that, but eleven of the samples failed for that. We also had heavy metal failures, with 37 percent failing for lead alone, with the highest one being 50 parts per million while the bureau of cannabis control in the state of California only allows for 500 parts per billion. So, we had extreme highs with these samples.”

In an industry as young and hard to control as the cannabis world, consumers must practice due diligence. It is up to the consumer to find brands and labs which they trust to provide transparent and accurate data about their products. However, this doesn’t mean that everything falls on the consumer to figure out, as there are many parties interested in quality cannabis, and consumer safety.

“So one thing I know the Bureau of Cannabis Control here in California just released and put into full effect, is that any licensed facility has to have a QR code present at their front door entrance,” Swider explained. “So if you go to a dispensary and they’re claiming they’re licensed – I don’t know if the black market ones say if they’re black market always – you should see a QR code attached to their license, and you should be able to take a picture of that QR. The code should take you to the license and address of the location.”

Using such technology allows for a greater bond between consumers and vendors, as it proves accountability and responsibility. It’s a low effort way to ensure trustworthiness and a trend that should spread across the industry.

Who Can Make Use Of InfiniteCAL’s Tests?

Those concerned with their health and the health of their communities have proactive measures they can take. Testing labs are happy to work with consumers to make sure the products they’ve obtained are safe to consume.

“For the state of California, we offer QA analysis to anyone,” Swider promised. “We’ve had people like parents find stuff in their kids’ bedrooms and bring samples here to have tested to show the kids how dangerous of a product they’re consuming is. Or they didn’t know what it was, and they wanted to make sure it was only cannabis. We do offer QA testing, and no one needs a manufacturer’s license for that.”

No fear is necessary for the conscious consumer, as trusted labs are here to help. Always test products you’re unsure of, and otherwise, find products tested by labs you know to be ethical in their reporting of results.