DEA, FDA seize 44 websites selling illicit vaping products with THC

National News

FILE – In this Aug. 28, 2019, file photo, a man exhales while smoking an e-cigarette in Portland, Maine. Health officials investigating a nationwide outbreak of vaping-related illnesses have, for the first time, listed the vape brands that are most commonly linked to hospitalizations. Most of the nearly 2,300 people who has suffered lung damage were vaping liquids that contain THC, the high-inducing part of marijuana. In a report released Friday, Dec. 6 the government listed the THC-containing products that patients most often said they’d been using, noting that some patients vaped more than one. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KXAN) — The United States Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Food and Drug administration seized 44 website domains offering to sell vaping cartridges with THC and other substances.

The DEA announced the seizure in a press release on Friday, which is part of their coordinated enforcement effort to address illicit vaping product hazards called Operation Vapor Lock.

“In the wake of recent injuries and deaths caused by vaping products, these seizures send a message to anyone seeking to capitalize on this dangerous trend,” said Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon.

An investigation revealed website owners were charging people for the products but their purchase would never get delivered.

“We need to fully understand the causes of vaping related lung injuries,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. “Moreover, it is a federal crime to advertise the sale of illicit THC vaping cartridges online, and by seizing these websites today, we are able to focus on other online and in-person sources of illegal and potentially dangerous vaping products. As more information comes to light in this complex and evolving investigation, we remain committed to taking further appropriate actions with our federal, state and local partners.”

Some of the online networks advertised THC vaping cartridges by brand names with pictures and statements about THC levels, which showed it was an illicit controlled substance according to the law. Authorities worry that the effects of a high concentration of THC, more than consuming the plant, could include paranoia, anxiety, panic attacks, hallucinations, a faster heart rate and high blood pressure. The long-term effects of vaping THC are unknown.

All the websites now redirect visitors to a page that says the site has been shut down by federal authorities for breaking the law.

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