On Monday, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control released the results of raids it made on illegal cannabis retailers in Los Angeles last December. It obtained over 10,000 illegal vape pens and tested their contents.
In the samples that the agency tested, it found that 75% of them had undisclosed additives, including vitamin E acetate, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified as the likely cause of lung injuries that have plagued the country for months. As of Jan. 21, 2020, the CDC reports that there have been more than 2,700 lung injuries and 60 deaths across the country linked to vaping.
The bureau's chief, Lori Ajax, highlighted the importance of buying from safe, legal sources: "The prevalence of dirty and dangerous vape pens at unlicensed cannabis stores demonstrate how important it is for consumers to purchase cannabis goods from licensed retailers, which are required to sell products that meet state testing and labeling standards."
Bureau advises consumers to use QR codes to verify a licensed retailer
One of the ways that consumers can ensure they're buying from a licensed cannabis dealer is by scanning the store's Quick Response (QR) code on their phones. Currently, it's still a voluntary program, but the Bureau of Cannabis Control is trying to make it mandatory for cannabis retailers to display a code to help customers verify their legitimacy.
Vaping issues have already hit Altria (NYSE:MO) hard. The tobacco giant wrote down its investment in Juul by a whopping $4.5 billion in October, and this week it shaved another $4.1 billion off. Its cannabis investment, Cronos Group, could also be at risk given its exposure to vaping.