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Vape cart additive makers pull products as others go dark

September 6, 2019
(Julia Sumpter/Leafly)
Updated 7:37 a.m. PST, Monday, Sept. 9

After a rash of suspected vape pen-related lung disease cases nationwide, the chemical makers responsible for selling new cannabis additives appear to be reacting, and evidence of their sales practices are emerging.

The website for Honey Cut, the diluent that started the 'thickener' craze last year, has gone dark.

According to recent web searches by Leafly, the website of suspicious diluent thickener maker Honey Cut has gone offline. Honey Cut’s manufacturer is unknown, and it was previously available only by ordering through its website.

Meanwhile, the Michigan-based terpene maker Floraplex has pulled down the sales page for its product Uber Thick, which was also mentioned in Leafly’s story on next-gen thickeners last week.

Related

Vape pen lung injury: Here’s what you need to know

Also, the diluent thickener maker Mr Extractor, based in Tigard, Oregon, has pulled sales of its Clear Cut product. A video, below, appears to show Mr Extractor founder Drew Jones pitching Clear Cut earlier this year for use in vape pens. Jones told Leafly this afternoon that Mr Extractor is no longer selling Clear Cut. He confirmed the video’s authenticity.

The video was posted to YouTube Sept. 5 by diluent thickener critic and watchdog Extract Ninja. It is not posted on the Mr Extractor YouTube page, but it matches other video content from Jones.

It’s important to note that the video’s YouTube host claims that Clear Cut contains vitamin E acetate. Jones confirmed in a letter to Leafly that Clear Cut contained tocopheryl-acetate. Jones wrote Leafly that he had permission to use it from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and thought it was safe. As Jones makes clear in the video, the manufacturer considers the formula for Clear Cut to be a highly guarded proprietary secret.

Deaths and concern mounting

On Monday morning, officials at the federal Centers for Disease Control reported that as many as five deaths and 450 cases of suspected acute respiratory distress syndrome have been associated with vaping THC products. Illicit market vape carts tainted with unapproved additives are a leading suspect in the outbreak, which may have begun as early as April in Illinois.

The FDA is testing some 120 seized products for a variety of potential contaminants, chief among them synthetic vitamin E oil (tocopheryl-acetate) and other additives and thickeners. New York health officials and FDA officials have found tocopheryl-acetate in most tainted carts from New York and in many others submitted to the FDA.

Related

Vape pen lung disease has insiders eyeing misuse of new additives

Honey Cut goes offline

The popular illicit market diluent thickener Honey Cut, based out of Los Angeles, may contain vitamin E oil, according to independent tests by the Portland, Oregon, terpene maker True Terpenes, and Jones. Leafly previously chronicled Honey Cut’s introduction in Los Angeles in late 2018 and its subsequent dominance of the market for vape cart cutting agents.

As of today, Honey Cut’s previously functioning website at honeycutvapes.com has disappeared. Error notices have taken its place. Honey Cut officials have not responded to Leafly’s requests for comment.

Mr Extractor pulls Clear Cut

Mr Extractor’s Clear Cut diluent, meanwhile, has also been pulled from sale on the MrExtractor.com website. The video of Drew Jones pitching Clear Cut appears to position the product as an ideal cutting agent for vape pen carts. Jones subsequently told Leafly dozens of brands are selling it, and it may be in 60-70% of all street vape carts in the US. Floraplex CEO Alec Riffle told Leafly he estimates 50 million US carts may contain something labeled “vitamin E oil”.

One thickener maker previously boasted that his product was “a far healthier alternative” to other diluents. This week the product disappeared from the company website.

Jones notes that the thickener is not subject to any state or federal regulations. There is nothing “to keep you from putting this in every head shop, gas station, dispensary in the country,” he says. “It tastes great, and to be honest with you, it tastes better than any e-juice on the market. … We’ve made juices out of this that are amazing. This product right here is going to revolutionize the e-juice industry.”

“If you want it, you’re going to have to come and get it,” Jones tells his prospective customers. “If you own a large company, we offer this in gallons. We offer this in barrels. We offer very, very competitive pricing on this. For example, the pricing structure of other dilutants from other companies: $10 a gram, $5 a gram. We offer things at $4 a gram. This product is going to start at $2 a gram and work its way under $1 a gram.”

Jones claims that Clear Cut is “a far healthier alternative” to other cutting agents on the market. “This product is something that your body needs, it’s been around for a long time and it’s been tested for a long time.” He stops short of naming any of the chemical components of Clear Cut, though. “Eventually it’s gonna come out,” he says. “But it ain’t gonna be today.”

Expert chemists have come out against the use of forms of vitamin E oil in carts.

Dumas de Rauly, chairs of the ISO Committee on Vaping Standards and CEN Vaping Standards Committee, deplored the use of vitamin E acetate in MJ Biz Daily. “In no case is this a product that you should be inhaling.”

“When you add products like vitamin E … when you add different kind of lipid solvents to the mix, you’re making all of that oil stickier, and that stickiness is going to create these lung illnesses we’re seeing,” he said.

New Zealand pharmacist and chemist Eliana Golberstein Rubashkyn added Friday on twitter:

https://twitter.com/ElianaGolber/status/1170104303656194048

David Downs's Bio Image

David Downs

David Downs directs news and lifestyle coverage as the California Bureau Chief for Leafly.com. He's written for WIRED, Rolling Stone and Billboard, and is the former cannabis editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as the author of several cannabis books including 'Marijuana Harvest' by Ed Rosenthal and David Downs. He co-hosts The Hash podcast. TW: @davidrdowns | IG @daviddowns

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  • charlie

    So these poisonings may be caused by an advertised product? I never would have guessed that. I’ve been vaping for 5 years, got me off cigarettes, saved my life. I mix my own eliquid. Now there’s another reason to do that.

    • Chuck D Clouds

      THC carts, not flavored nicotine vapes

  • Ivan van Ogre

    “But it ain’t gonna be today.”
    No, it’s never today, is it?

  • Talked to my friend who is an admin at a cannabis lab – and they confirmed that the labs do NOT test for vitamin e or any of the other cutting agents in vapes…. Someone could fill a vape cartridge with pure vitamin e oil, and it would pass the PHASE 3 cannabis compliance lab testing…. and that would probably kill someone. Labs aren’t testing for these additives – and most people don’t even know what the additives are!

  • Ravi

    It’s unfortunate that regulators were fast asleep. They are supposed to check the additive etc., In US because of regressive policies FDA can’t test these and check these greedy operators!

  • Trillium Hummingbird

    Vaping is for idiots. For that matter, smoking cannabis isn’t much more advisable.

  • I am who I am

    This all comes down to black market vape pens. Legal or not but in the end, this is a good example of why THC/Cannabis should be legal nationwide. This would allow FDA regulations to take place and safety testing to become a normality so this does not happen in the future. Cigarettes kill millions, you don’t see them pulling them off the shelves? The small, minute amount of sickness and or deaths for vapes in comparison to big tobacco and or alcohol is a drop in the bucket. Sickness and deaths in any case is very sad and disheartening but you must also look at the big picture. The prohibitionists are using this as ammunition to say “I told you so” without using their small brains to realize that THC is not the culprit, its what is being put in the vape pens that is making people sick or die. In the end, its a lawmaker/politicians job to “cherry pick” what information they want to make public in order to push their own agendas farther in order to engrave these idiotic ideas into the uninformed citizens.

    • wcoasttigger

      The only issue tho….state regs dont check the additives. Im sure they will start. But old school tokes for now.

  • Robert McManus

    Troll alert. Don’t respond to idiots like that. It only empowers them.

  • wcoasttigger

    The deaths contain 55 year olds. I think 2 used it medically. My question is… were any thc cartridges tested from legit state regulated shops? Or is every one from the street or dyi?

  • Chuck D Clouds

    It’s not vaping…. These are THC carts… there has never been a single illness from Nicotine vape products unless you count moronic kids that shouldn’t be vaping anyways, hotboxing 50mg juul pods… PS: Vape shops and most adult vapers hate Juul.

  • Chuck D Clouds

    It’s killing the vape industry as well. they’re rolling out flavor bans because of this bs…

  • VelvetyGurl (^_^)

    I was digging around in my terpenes from True Terps today. The last article that mentioned them and their Viscosity crap made it sound as if the company would NEVER market that stuff for people to INHALE!! It was always meant for topical use only….they can’t be held responsible for what their customers do with their products, yadda yadda. What complete BS! They heavily marketed this stuff for exactly that reason. They had sales people on Facebook sending folks like me free samples etc, hoping for rave reviews. I have nothing against their actual terpenes or blends. What I don’t like and can’t stand for any longer is corporate GREED over people’s health. You can find the entire story on Reddit….plz don’t ask for links, google is your friend!! I won’t go into any other details on here, but please Leafly, do your own homework before just believing what some corporate jerk tells you. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4c56cf34c206b7f0cef5780b38a7eaa4c3aa877c8eda473423e2d90d468449f1.jpg