MINOT, N.D.- Wednesday, we went into the community to see how they're responding to the vaping crisis that has taken six lives and put hundreds in the hospital. There have already been talks on a national level about banning non-tobacco flavored nicotine pods.
However, there hasn't been much talk about vaping CBD products derived from cannabis that you don't need a prescription to buy in North Dakota.
Alternative Health Solutions in Minot recently started selling CBD vaping cartridges, and they already have some customers buying them.
“My friend Julie told me to start taking CBD oil and it didn't take all the pain away but it took a lot of it away,” said Alternative Health Solutions customer Paula Stephenson.
Stephenson says she switched from ingesting oils to vaping because it tastes better. She added that the increase in cases of the mysterious vaping-related illnesses is not deterring her, as it already has other CBD sellers.
“It's not necessarily that it's a THC product, or a nicotine product, or a CBD product. It's what is the carrying agent and what all those ingredients are specifically and what the ramifications are on the lungs. Nobody knows, but now we're starting to see with all these cases coming out,” said Terry's Health Products owner Lonna Brooks.
Brooks has a Terry's Health Products kiosk in the Dakota Square Mall where she sells CBD, as well as her brick-and-mortar store in Bismarck.
She says she's never sold CBD meant for vaping, and doesn't ever plan on it.
“We are a health products company that believe in promoting health and wellness for our customers and I've never felt comfortable with it,” Brooks said.
It's still unclear what about vaping is causing people to get sick. Department of Health officials in New York studied 34 cases of the disease finding vitamin E acetate in nearly all of the samples. While vitamin E acetate is safe for ingesting and putting on skin, it can be harmful if vaped. It has been reported as an ingredient in many counterfeit CBD and THC vape cartridges being sold on the black market
We reached out to Infinite Vapors in Minot for a statement on how the recent outbreaks are impacting their business:
“My name is Bill Boldenow with Infinite Vapor. I was asked for a brief statement on if we’ve seen a decline in business due to the black market THC cartridges causing the reported sickness around the nation. We’ve seen a minor impact as misleading headlines in the media have caused some major confusion for the general public.
However, the majority of our clients understand that there's a war on traditional vapor products and the headlines often give fuel to that fire. In general, I think people are becoming more accustomed to digging deeper than a headline in today's day and age of misinformation spreading because of a simple “Share”. I believe our clients understand that these cases are not due to traditional nicotine vapor products but rather black market THC cartridges. Our customers have carried on with keeping being traditional tobacco-free as tobacco is known to cause almost a half million deaths every year. They continue to choose the alternative to smoking. The alternative that has helped them for many, many years before this hysteria broke out from black market THC cartridges. But that's what prohibition does, it creates a black market.”