Hawaiian Ethos Addresses Vaping Concerns

September 10, 2019, 5:35 PM HST (Updated September 12, 2019, 8:24 AM)
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Hawaiian Ethos, one of Hawai‘i Island’s two medical marijuana dispensaries, sent out a press release on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, to address the news from the state Department of Health that Hawai‘i may be dealing with its first case of vaping-related severe respiratory disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 450 potential or confirmed cases of severe lung injury have been reported, including at least six deaths, in 33 states and one U.S. territory. CDC indicated that many of these cases reported using illicit cannabinoid products, such as THC.

The possible case in Hawai‘i involved an individual under the age of 18. DOH said the person in question is currently hospitalized.

Hawaiian Ethos, in its press release, expressed concern over the current news regarding the deaths and injuries surrounding vaping.

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“This issue has raised very real questions about the processes, ingredients and safety of this delivery method,” the release read. “Unfortunately, a direct cause of these instances has yet to be determined, but many speculate the answer may lie in the production process and additives being introduced to the cartridges.”

Severe lung disease experienced by people vaporizing nicotine and cannabis is serious, but the illness has not been linked to specific cannabinoids or terpenes, the release continued.

“No evidence of infectious diseases has been identified; therefore lung illnesses are likely associated with a chemical exposure,” according to a CDC press release.

“This refers to chemicals such as Vitamin E acetate and other additives, used by some dealers to produce vape-oil,” Hawaiian Ethos said.

The FDA is now testing more than 100 product samples used by patients who developed lung diseases after vaping in an effort to find out exactly what’s in them and what could be causing illnesses.

“Being one of the first medical cannabis dispensaries on Hawai‘i Island, we take the safety of our patients and community very seriously,” the Hawaiian Ethos press release continued. “The Hawaiian Ethos product development team has done extensive research on the most responsible and safe methods of production for each of our products.”

“All of our extracts, including those that go into our vape cartridges, are solventless,” the release continued. “This means that we only use water, heat and pressure to extract cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids from the plant. Along with upholding a pure extraction process, Hawaiian Ethos has never added any outside ingredients to our cartridges. Every extract sold in our dispensary comes straight from the plant with absolutely no additives, from the beginning of processing to the finished product.”

The release went on to explain the difference between solventless and solvent-free products. Solventless means no solvents were ever used in the production of the medicine. Solvent-free is a term used to describe a cannabis extraction process that uses either ethanol, butane, CO2 or other known solvents to extract cannabinoids from the plant.

The solvents are then burned off and evaporated, leaving a cannabinoid isolate extract with no terpenes or flavonoids. Many solvent-free production procedures include introducing outside terpenes, flavors or fillers to make the product taste better and/or get to the right consistency. All of these factors are currently being investigated as potential causes of illness.

“In contrast, Hawaiian Ethos products have always been solventless vs. solvent-free,” the company said.

Stacey Marie Kerr M.D., Hawaiian Ethos Medical Advisor, commented on the current vaping situation.

“As a physician, I implore all patients to use products that are quality lab tested for content and purity, and as always, use the minimal amount needed for effective relief,” Kerr said. “The oil in Hawaiian Ethos’ vape cartridges contains only the cannabinoids and terpenes that were in the original plant, with absolutely no added chemicals, so vaporizing Ethos products remains a viable option for those needing rapid relief.”

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