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Alcohol & Other Drugs, News & Media, Young People

Drug Alert – Contaminated Vapes

Posted on: 16 February, 2024

We are aware of vape liquids & pens containing very strong synthetic cannabinoids ‘spice’ which are likely being sold as THC vapes. These are causing unintended effects in those who use them. 

THC vapes are not sold legally in the UK, and there is little evidence of sale of vapes and liquids in the UK which actually contain THC. Tests have shown that many ‘THC vapes’ will actually contain a synthetic cannabinoid e.g. ‘spice’. 

In countries where THC vapes are sold legally, they cost considerably more than nicotine vapes – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

Whatever you are told about it containing weed or THC, it is unlikely that it does, and the effect will not be what you expected.  

‘Spice’ can be highly dangerous and is commonly used amongst people in prison and those who sleep rough – because it robs them of hours of awareness of being locked up or cold and scared or suffering crippling anxiety or opioid withdrawals – it is not because it feels great. 

The effects of these contaminated vapes can take hold very quickly and you should not use one in the same way as a nicotine vape. 

Cross tolerance does not seem to apply between different versions of ‘spice’. This means that even if you develop some tolerance to one type, it won’t apply to any new type you take, making it more likely you will overdose. 


The effects from synthetic cannabinoids are very different from THC & cannabis and will vary across the range in shorter/longer duration, harms and their effects. 

The number one way to stay safe is to not use substances including vapes, tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, however if you do use a ‘THC vape’ you should consider this advice. 

When using a new batch or type of ‘THC vape’, inhale once only and gently, without holding your breath i.e. just breathe normally, not deeply. This will help you to assess the effects before using more.  

  • Call for help or an ambulance if you are worried about someone – you won’t get into trouble, but you may save a mate’s life 
  • Do not use alone or in confined spaces like cars, under a duvet etc.  
  • Do not startle anyone but try to be reassuring if they’re distressed
  • Do not film or share photos and videos of someone under the influence 
  • Do not play games to see how much you can take or take lots to show off   
  • Do not all use it at once, if someone gets into trouble, who can call for help? 
  • Do not leave them with a stranger and watch out for their possessions while they’re under the influence
  • Do not accept vapes from other people
  • If using refillable vapes, always try to fill your own
  • Try to obtain legitimate vape brands and liquids

Contact your local substance use support service or young persons’ wellbeing service, who will be able to provide confidential and non-judgmental advice. Visit to find your local service. 

Do not be afraid to tell the workers what you intended to buy, you won’t get in trouble, but that will help them to support you and keep you safe. 

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