Tipped by a confidential informant, last week Minnesota police officers raided a suspect’s condominium finding close to 29,000 cartridges in his car, and 30,000 in his garage. Similarly in the Phoenix area, authorities have recently raided three homes over eight days, seizing hundreds of THC cartridges at each.
In Wisconsin, detectives arrested two young brothers who were allegedly running a large-scale THC cartridge assembly operation inside a condo. Whilst in Nebraska, sheriff’s deputies found a stash of cartridges in a car parked at a truck stop.
Finally focusing on the real “vaping” epidemic ?
To date 805 cases of vaping-related illness have been reported across the US, with 15 deaths in 12 states.
Until recently the US police force was busy fighting the national opioid epidemic, and not placing much importance on illegal vaping products, regarding them more as a nuisance, rather than a real threat. “Honestly, I think we kind of missed the boat a little bit because we’ve been dealing with opioids,” said Chief L.J. Fusaro of the Groton, Conn., police. “In some respects, we didn’t see this coming.”
However, in response to recent events, they are now paying close attention. “It’s become an absolute priority,” said Sheriff Paul Penzone of Maricopa County, Ariz., where deputies have gone undercover to purchase the products from dealers, in an attempt to disrupt the operation.
To date 805 cases of vaping-related illness have been reported across the US, with 15 deaths in 12 states. In response to this, a number of US states and localities have been implementing e-cig bans. Washington, New York, Michigan and Rhode Island have announced temporary bans on flavoured vaping products, while last month, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, urged the public health council to set in place a four month statewide ban on the sales of all vaping devices.
However, as renowned public health expert D. Michael Siegel pointed out on one of his blogs, while bans are being implemented towards regulated vaping products which are successfully used as smoking cessation tools, authorities who have long been referring to the increase in vaping as an “epidemic”, seemed to not be doing much about the illicit products causing an actual epidemic.
Differentiating between illicit and regulated vaping products
Meanwhile, thankfully policemen have had to learn to differentiate between illicit products which are normally used for recreational purposes, and the regulated kind normally purchased from vape stores. “It is something we’re trying to get our hands around,” said Fusaro referring to Groton in Connecticut, where officers confiscated 435 THC cartridges in a bust this year. “As of late, it’s really become of interest to law enforcement because of the harm that’s come to folks, particularly our youth.”
Read Further: The New York Times