An Oregon analytic laboratory is offering a new test for cannabis products to detect the presence of vitamin E acetate, an additive that has been implicated in the rash of vaping-related lung illnesses that have sickened hundreds and led to at least six deaths. Pixis Labs in Portland began conducting the test for consumers on Monday, according to a report in local media.
Pixis Labs developed the test after it was announced that state and federal health officials were looking into the possibility that vitamin E acetate, also known as Alpha-tocopherol acetate, could be associated with the hundreds of pulmonary illnesses that have been reported in dozens of states. The substance, a supplement designed for oral or topical use, is sometimes used to thin or dilute the cannabis oil in vape cartridges.
Derrick Tanner, the general manager of Pixis Labs, said that the company has tested several cannabis oils from existing customers to validate the process, although he declined to say if any vitamin E acetate was detected in the samples provided. He also said that he expects the new test to generate considerable interest from not only consumers but the cannabis industry, as well.
“Anyone who’s […] not even just generating cartridges and oils, anybody who’s ancillary in this service line is interested in having this as an additional test for their product,” Tanner said. “Everyone’s concerned about it right now.”
Tanner said that diluting commodities to increase profits isn’t restricted to the cannabis industry. The practice is also sometimes carried out in the food industry, with honey and olive oil being notable examples.
“Any time you have a commodity that’s highly valued, and there’s a way to increase your profits one way or another, there’s going to be certain people who may take advantage of that and try to [stretch their commodity] out.”
Tanner told High Times in an email that the new test for Alpha-tocopherol and Alpha-tocopherol acetate is available at a cost of $140 and requires a 3-gram sample to perform.
Are Tighter Regulations Coming?
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the agency tasked with regulating the legal cannabis industry in the state, does not currently require testing products for vitamin E acetate. But with the continuing spate of lung injuries, Mark Pettinger, a spokesman for the agency, said that stricter regulations could be enacted.
“Because of the vaping illness crisis, the OLCC will consider taking whatever action is necessary to protect consumer health, including the recall of tainted product, and banning inclusion of questionable additives into marijuana products that threaten human health and public safety,” he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported late last week that there have been 380 confirmed and probable cases in 36 states of lung illnesses experienced by people who vape. The previous week the agency had announced that more than 450 cases of pulmonary disease could be associated with vaping, but that number also included reports of possible cases.
Also last week, the Trump administration announced that it would ban the sale of flavored nicotine vape products.