Mike Wren / AP
The mystery surrounding the outbreak of vaping-related lung disease is still unresolved.
But investigators in Illinois and Wisconsin have found some clues, they announced Friday in a press release.
Investigators in these two states conducted detailed interviews with 86 patients – mostly young men – and 66% said they had armed THC products labeled as Dank Vapes. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.
What is Dank Vapes and how could they give the fuel outbreak?
"Dank Vapes appears to be the most prominent in a largely counterfeit brand, with plain packaging readily available online and used by distributors to market THC-containing cartridges," states a report by state investigators released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC has notified since the outbreak began about the risk of buying products "off the street", and Friday's update highlighted the risk to the black market. Sometimes, young consumers do not even realize that they are buying unregulated or illegal products.
"THC-based products were often sourced from informal sources down the street from friends or from a retailer," Jennifer Layden of the Illinois Department of Public Health said in the press release.
Around the country, law enforcement is trying to crack down on black-market dealers. In Wisconsin earlier this month, two brothers were arrested for allegedly driving a large THC vampire.
And earlier this week, police in Waynesboro, Va., Arrested three men and recovered more than 1,000 vape cartridges marked with a 90% THC oil blend.
"They're tagged Dank Vapes," says Captain Mike Martin of the Waynesboro Police Department. "They appear to be commercially packed, and there are a variety of flavors."
The mixture appears as "a standard looking brownish oil. … It has the consistency of … maybe, like an engine oil," Martin says.
"We've never seen a move like this," says Martin. He estimates that they have recovered a steam product of around $ 35,000. "They sold the street.
tells us. A difficult way to uncover this outbreak is that many of the patients around The country that has fallen ill acknowledges using both THC and nicotine vaping products and has used a wide variety of brands and products, in fact, the 86 patients in Wisconsin and Illinois reported using 234 different products.
However, investigators now seem more focused on the role THC may play in this outbreak since the majority of people who have been ill around the country reported using THC or both THC and nicotine, according to a CDC report released Friday, and the CDC updated the warning against gunfire to emphasize the risk of THC products: "CDC recommends that people consider refraining from using e-cigarette, or vaping, products, especially those containing THC," said CDC's Anne Schuchat during a telebriefing Friday.  For people who are unsuspecting, black market products like Dank Vapes can be deceptive.
"Dank Vapes sounds like a cool name, it sounds like a cool product and it looks like legitimate packaging," said Jeffrey Kahn, who runs a medical marijuana dispensary in Washington, DC. But, he says, unlike the regulated products he sells, you don't necessarily know what's in black market products. "If one or two or hundreds of people fill them with dangerous material in an unscrupulous way, people may suffer," he adds.