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How "Oregon36" Died From Legal MJ Vaping-- A Timeline

by Lloyd Covens, Editor, West420NewsWeekly

          Based upon the Nov. 8th announcement from the Centers for Disease Control, the suspected compound killing and sickening vape pen users has been tied to Vitamin E acetate (tocopheryle-acetate, which we will code as TocoA for this story) which was found in 23 of 29 victims who were ill, but did not die from the exposure. Other plant-based substances were not found, and investigators thoroughly examined known previous “thickeners” like propylene glycol, MCT coconut oil or vegetable glycerin. Scientific testing continues on more of the 2,100 EVALI (e-cigarette vaping associated lung injury) patients nationwide, but with this week’s addition of three new deaths (bringing the total to 41) and weekly additional hospitalizations

            After the two Oregon-related deaths, Oregon governor Kate Smith issued an executive ban on the sales of all THC and nicotine vaping products for six months. On Nov. 14, ruling on a lawsuit filed by Oakland MJ-firm, Herban Industries(Winberry brand) , the Oregon Court of Appeals has placed a stay on the Smith ban, pending further court pleadings expected from Oregon health officials.   If the victims thus far are 82-85% tied to ILLEGAL THC containing vape cartridges ( with most of the suspected remaining tied to nicotine only vaping) why does the legal industry need to be concerned? The July, 2019 death of a Portland patient is the link to LEGAL use of THC vaping—and the link the industry is in fear and denial. Its sets up the “products-liability case” which may soon be the basis for millions-and-millions of dollars of damages sought against current and past sellers(in all forms) or THC containing vaping products. This is the reconstructed timeline, showing the possible route from LA to Portland. We call the victim, OREGON36-- his approximate age and confirmed gender. This timeline will be updated again, but we must credit the extensive reporting (all reporting of LEAFLY article shown in red ink) by David Downs and Maria — See the entire story at:

A Reconstructed (Projected) Timeline:

2012-15: Vaping of THC oils come to market as a convenient way to carry a small device which allows concentrated THC inhalation with very little “cannabis-smell”. Cartridges are filled with extracted and concentrated THC oils, and mixed under 15% with cutting agents which help the “thickener to eliminate bubble movement and leakage.” Costs for the new technology may run $50 to $100 for a cartridge(cart) that could deliver 100-plus “hits” from different (100-2500) milligrams of delivered THC. The onset (high) is comparable to a rolled joint, typically from 30-seconds to 3 minutes—a particular appeal for vape delivered instant access versus slower uptake from edibles(45 minutes), pills(one hour) or even sprays(10 minutes).

2016-2019—Popularity of THC-delivered vaping products grows to 24 to 36% of all consumer demand.

November, 2018-- Los Angeles-based (illicit) packagers of vape carts all descend on Honey Cut. The company has begun importing “raw vitamin E acetate for $8.50 to $42.60 per liter” and re-sell it for $1100 to $1350 per liter. LEAFLY identifies the founder and operator of Honey Cut as Woodland Hills(CA)-based casting associate Joshua Mathias Temple.

December, 2018 to April, 2019 -- Thousands of American vape users—especially purchasers from non- licensed, illicit or “informal” channels begin consuming the TocoA in their THC carts—not aware that the actual OIL has been altered with as much as 80% TocoA. LEAFLY: Honey Cut’s “bottles promised a “pharmaceutical grade product “safe to use in any desired ratio.” Honey Cut itself contained no THC oil. It was a legal additive that the makers of illicit THC vape cartridges used to dilute the THC oil in their carts.” To the consuming vape public the “honey oil” look of TocoA closely resembles “pure THC oil,” but in early2019 may have actually allowed up to 80% of the carts to contain TocoA, not THC. Profits from not using THC skyrocketed. Soon Honey Cut gained other southern California based distributors of vitamin E acetate with names like Thicc Stretch, UberThick(distributed by Floraplex) and Clear Cut (from Mr. Extractor).

April-June, 2019 or earlier: Oregon-36 (his family wishes not to release his name) purchased THC vape carts from two (licensed) Portland area cannabis retail shops. OregonLive reports (Sept. 13, 2019 by reporter Fedor Zarkhin) that the Oregon Health Authority will not release the names of the two hospitals where Oregon-36 received treatment. OHA and the OLCC have also refused to release the names of the two Portland legal MJ stores, but OLCC claims it can reconstruct the source of the toxic LEGAL THC carts, if the licensed MJ retailers did, in fact, enter the suspect carts into their state-required inventory tracking system.

Mid-June: Victim Oregon36 goes to a Portland emergency room, showing signs of severe lung impairment. He is given anti-inflammation drugs and sent home. His conditions worsens over the next two weeks, and he returns to the ER, and eventually begins gaining treatment from Portland pulmonologists Drs. David Hotchkin and Jason Wells. Oregon36’s lung damage was so severe, that the two doctors place him into a medically-induced coma, and then begin treatment with a advanced “extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine.” It is capable of putting oxygen into the the patient’s blood, and later the doctor’s determined Oregn36 might also need to be “hooked up to an artificial lung.” Kidney damage also is identified at the hospital.

Early July, 2019: Improvements in Oregon36’s condition allowed the patient to begin walking , remain alert “and optimistic” but still required he be hooked up to the lung machine. A specialized lung transplant center in California agreed to have Oregon36 transported there to evaluate his condition.

Mid-JulyAs Doctors Wells and Hotchkiss were working out the proposed transport of Oregon36 to the California center, the patient “suffered a brain hemorrhage and died.” The two doctors had thought they had stabilized the mystery illness (that resembled pneumonia) in Oregon36, but on Sept. 3rd, the CDC identified him as the second death attributed to what has now become the national outbreak.   “It’s one of those cases that will stick with you for the rest of your career,” Dr. Wells told the OregonLive report.

Next Week: Closing the loop on these open questions: Who are the licensed Oregon cannabis retailers who were the source for Oregon36’s tainted THC cartridges? Were they manufactured(as required) in the state of Oregon, from Oregon-grown THC? And did any Oregon-based vape makers report their own use of VitaE in their own post August tests? Has OLCC isolated the suspected THC carts in other retail (or even ILLEGAL) channels in Portland? Is there any evidence that Los Angeles-filled THC carts (legal or illicit) flowed over the state border into Oregon? At the CDC, what additional sourcing information will be released on victim reports of THC-oil, original or tampered carts, formulations of Toco-A across the 49 states in the outbreak, and how are the 84% of 2100 cases similar in the consumer choices to purchase THC cartridges?     

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