Drug Alerts Harm Reduction Safety

Drugs warning: fake vapes containing toxic chemical that can cause lung damage found in Manchester

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An alert has been issued in Manchester over “THC” or “cannabis oil” vape e-liquid.

The vapes have been analytically confirmed by Manchester Drug Analysis Exchange (MANDRAKE) to also contain vitamin E acetate. When vaporised, vitamin E acetate produces toxic ketene gas which can cause lung damage.

MANDRAKE are an organisation based at Manchester Metropolitan University who chemically analyse drugs across the city.

A recent test on a vape pen from Greater Manchester found the vape liquid inside contained 40% THC along with 33% vitamin E acetate.

Vitamin E acetate is an oily chemical added to THC vaping liquids to thicken or dilute them. Between 2019 and 2020 there were nearly, 3,000 hospital admissions and 68 deaths associated with vitamin E acetate in THC vape pens in the USA.

Vitamin E acetate is a prohibited ingredient under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations in the UK, so it is not present in e-cigarettes containing nicotine. THC is a Class B drug, so vapes are illegal and therefore the contents are unregulated.

As very few tests of this type are conducted in the UK, it is unknown how widespread the use of vitamin E acetate is in THC vape liquid.

There is no way of knowing if your THC vape liquid contains vitamin E acetate. There is no safe dose or safer way of using vape liquid that contains vitamin E acetate. If you are using THC vape pens or THC vape liquid, monitor yourself for symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, chest pain) and promptly seek medical attention if you have concerns about your health.

Support for students who take drugs

The safest way to take drugs is not at all. However, we recognise that a number of students choose to use drugs whilst at university.

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