More than 1,300 medical marijuana patients in Michigan bought vaping cartridges containing the potentially fatal cutting agent that sparked a major lung illness outbreak.

The Marijuana Regulatory Agency was forced to issue a recall on 9,380 cartridges this week after they were found to contain vitamin E acetate. The agent was widely blamed for the illness that killed 60 people across North America – including two in Michigan – and left around 2,700 users injured.

It was largely attributed to illicit THC vape cartridges sold by dealers on the black market. Authorities said they used vitamin E acetate to thicken the liquid in the cartridges.

Patients will be alarmed to learn it was found in products that were on sale in a legal dispensary. Plan B apparently sourced the cartridges prior to gaining its medical marijuana provisioning centre license in August 2019.

Back then newly licensed dispensaries were permitted to transfer existing products into the state system for sale, provided customers signed a waiver declaring they understood the product had not been tested to the state’s standards.

The Marijuana Regulatory Agency only banned vitamin E acetate as an ingredient in vape catridges in November after it emerged as the culprit in the lung illness outbreak. It can be sourced legally, as it can safely be eaten or rubbed on the skin, but the Centers for Disease Control believes it causes illness when it enters the lungs.

This marks the second time that Michigan has recalled cannabis vape products containing vitamin E acetate. Last month it found the agent in Cereal Cart, Monopoly Cart, Royal Highness, and Savage Stick brands sold at Elite Wellness in Mount Morris between Aug. 3 and Nov. 22.

The testing process has been delayed as only one of the state’s six licensed labs, PSI Labs in Ann Arbor, is currently approved to perform it, causing a backlog. This might make Michiganders wary of purchasing cannabis vape cartridges at all.

The state legalized recreational marijuana last month, but sales in the first seven weeks of trading have been sluggish. More than 80% of the state’s cities, towns, and townships have opted out of allowing legal dispensaries to open on their patches, so only 36 recreational dispensaries have been approved by the state, compared to 206 medical ones.

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