The Black Market for Illegal Vaping Products Is Growing

In the wake of the deadly vaping-related illness, police are targeting illegal THC cartridges

vaping VAPI illness
The dangers of vaping have been a topic of hot debate in the scientific community
TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty
By Bonnie Stiernberg / October 1, 2019 3:13 pm

The war on vaping continues.

As new cases of the mysterious, vaping-related lung illness continue to be reported every day, public health officials are doing everything they can to get to the bottom of what’s causing it. One theory is that tainted black-market THC cartridges are to blame, and as a result, police across the country have begun to crack down on illegal vaping products.

As the New York Times reports, many law enforcement officials who are also dealing with a national opioid epidemic used to feel that cracking down on illegal vaping products was an annoyance, but after the rash of deaths and illness, they have begun taking it much more seriously. “It’s become an absolute priority,” Sheriff Paul Penzone of Maricopa County, Arizona told the publication.

“Honestly, I think we kind of missed the boat a little bit because we’ve been dealing with opioids,” L.J. Fusaro, the chief of police in Groton, Conn., told the Times. “In some respects, we didn’t see this coming.”

Police have had a tougher time cracking down on illegal THC cartridges because it lacks a smell when vaped, unlike more traditionally smoked marijuana. They’ve also had to learn how to spot the difference between vaping cartridges for THC and cartridges for vaping nicotine, which are legal.

“It is something we’re trying to get our hands around,” Fusaro said. “As of late, it’s really become of interest to law enforcement because of the harm that’s come to folks, particularly our youth.”

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