Statement on Recent Vaping Deaths

By Craig M, CEO and Co-Founder of Lucky Turtle

The unfortunate outcomes of the recent deaths related to vaping has triggered many requests from our customers.  Is my vape cartridge safe? Do you use vitamin E acetate as an additive? Are there heavy metals in your oil?  Do your cartridges come from China?

We take great pride in ensuring our product is true to the plant and cleaner than the typical “cheap” vape found on the legal market today. It’s one of the main things that set us apart from our competitors and something we firmly believe in. We don’t want anyone getting sick off our product…it’s bad for us and bad for the industry we’ve worked so hard to move forward.  Do yourselves and loved ones a favor and don’t even consider vape oils from the black market.

The investigation is ongoing and a final determination to the cause is still unknown.  That said, the root cause is focusing on additives or other product diluents.  Below is a summary of our responses to all the questions we have received so far.

I’ve heard Vitamin E acetate is the cause for the deaths.  Do you have any additives in your oil?

1) We do not add any additives such as Vitamin E acetate to any of our vape oils.  Companies are using Vitamin E acetate to make thinned out oils appear thicker.  It is used more commonly in skin creams.

2) We only add natural terpenes to our products for synergistic effects – not as a diluent. We extract 100% of the cannabis-based terpenes ourselves using only subcritical and supercritical CO2 extractionon.  We extract only high quality trim we source ourselves.  The CO2 extraction process is a safe and highly effective method for keeping terpenes in their natural state, maintaining the original integrity of the plant inside our oils. In some of our products, we also use small amounts of botanical terpenes that are certified free of any additives and solvents free.  We do not use any synthetic terpenes!

3) We do not add any thinners or thickeners.  Common thinners included polyethylene glycol (PEG), vegetable glycerin (VG) or medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) oil.  While safe to ingest, the safety profile of these additives when inhaled/aerosolized is unknown.  Even if you don’t buy Lucky Turtle, please stay away from these!

4) We only use one ingredient in our primary extraction process: CO2, the same gas you exhale with every breath. This is the safest and most sustainable extraction solvent for cannabis presently. We know of other legal cannabis CO2 extraction operations using combinations of polar and non-polar solvents to increase yield.  Lucky Turtle does not do this; there is no characterization of what other compounds these toxic solvents may be extracting out of the cannabis material.

5) We only use ethanol in a four-step winterization process through our Advanced Biotech Filtration process. We have designed a process that importantly removes all waxes and lipids. Excessive lipid content in the final extract can lead to lipoid pneoumonia symptoms.  We also don’t use any harmful hydrocarbon solvents used by other manufacturers.  While these solvents are more efficient at wax removal (chemicals such as hexane and heptane) they are toxic and potentially carcinogenic.  We won’t touch them.  Our ethanol is removed (and recycled) in our final processing steps.

Are there heavy metals in your vape hardware?  Do they come from China?

Currently, all our vape cartridges come from China.  It’s the sole source for all vape hardware in the world right now. There’s no US manufacturers, only a handful that claim “US made” but they’re only assembled in the United States.  Components are still manufactured in China.

We trust our hardware vendor and have performed on-site inspections of their facility.  Our vendor provides heavy metal testing for their hardware.  California and Michigan have already implemented heavy metals testing as a requirement and we anticipate it coming to Colorado next year.  We are ahead of the curve from a regulatory standpoint.  More importantly, we are ahead of the curve from a product quality and safety standpoint.

Additionally, we use glass tanks with ceramic coils on all our vapes.  This is important because plastics, especially with the higher temperatures and longer exposure times that occur with vape cartridges, have the potential to leach harmful compounds.  Most compounds that leach from plastics are characterized for safety through toxicity safety assessments.  Toxicity safety assessments are far better defined for injection and ingestion than for inhalation.  Pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars every year running extractable/leachable studies on plastics to ensure patient safety.  Running studies like these was part of our founder’s scientific background.  We avoid plastics in our vape hardware because of this potential problem.  Glass is safe.  Ceramic is safe.  Leachables from plastics and wicks in vape hardware are unknown.

What about contaminated cannabis?  I heard this was being used in Colorado.

This is the industry’s dirty secret (literally).  To cut costs, companies will process contaminated cannabis. Unfortunately, this practice is far more common than people think.  This is called “remediated cannabis” and Colorado allows this practice without the need for additional labeling. Sadly, last year it was required to have “remediated cannabis” on the label but the state removed the requirement after some lobbying from larger companies.

Hydrocarbon and CO2 extraction will reduce microbial contamination to within passing levels because it kills microbes.  It is why Colorado allows it.  However, there are “non-living” byproducts produced from microbes that don’t get removed and are potentially concentrated by extraction and additional purification.  The non-living products include cell debris and toxins produced by the microbe such as mycotoxins which can cause sickness and are highly carcinogenic.

Raw materials can also include harmful pesticides that will co-purify with the cannabis. Colorado maintains a list of forbidden pesticides but it is very easy for grows to avoid getting caught using these chemicals.  For example, only pulling from the “organic” plant.  We only partner with a select few organic grows, inspect them regularly, and spot check incoming material for pesticides using our own trusted labs.

Final Words

We take pride in our safe extraction and high-quality end products.  Myself and my partner are the founders and current owner/operators and are in the production plant almost EVERY DAY.  We have over 35 years of experience producing injectable biologics.  We use this experience in everything we do.  From GMP manufacturing practices, consistent standard operating procedures (SOPs), regular quality testing, and high sanitary conditions in our production facility.  We’ve never had even a single microbial count on our vape oil since we started over 3 years ago!  We ensure consistent production and meet our quality requirements on every single batch.

You can #trusttheturtle

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