Police departments in Connecticut and around the country are facing a new challenge in their fight against illegal drugs. Vaporizer cartridges containing liquid infused with THC are becoming extremely popular among marijuana users because they are convenient and do not produce the odor associated with smoking the drug, but they have been linked to serious health problems and dozens of deaths. According to an investigation conducted by the Associated Press, law enforcement agencies in the United States have seized more than 510,000 THC vaporizer cartridges in just the last two years.
Police have also arrested at least 120 people for making, distributing and possessing THC vaporizer cartridges. Some of the THC cartridges available on the streets of Connecticut are brought into the state from parts of the country where marijuana has been legalized, but most are made in basements, backrooms and warehouses using chemicals that can cause severe health issues. On Oct. 24, police in Wisconsin raided a condominium that was allegedly being used to produce between 4,000 and 5,000 THC cartridges every day.
A study from the research firm BDS Analytics suggests that drug dealers and traffickers earn about $2.5 billion each year from distributing and selling THC cartridges. This figure is expected to grow in the years ahead. In addition to becoming a strain on law enforcement resources, the cartridges are burdening the nation’s hospitals. More than 2,000 marijuana users have developed lung diseases, and at least 47 have died because they vaporized the drug. Experts believe that substances used to thicken THC liquids may be to blame.
Individuals charged with possessing or distributing THC cartridges are often taken into custody after police officers conduct warrantless searches. Such searches are only permitted when officers have probable cause to believe that criminal activity is ongoing. In such situations, experienced criminal defense attorneys may pay particularly close attention to the sequence of events to ascertain whether searches were supported by sufficient probable cause. When police could have acted improperly, attorneys may seek to have the drug charges against their clients dismissed.