The vaping-related lung injury epidemic that has caused 39 deaths and sickened over 2,000 e-cigarette users across 49 states may have had an unlikely culprit: Joshua Mathias Temple, a former “Veronica Mars” casting assistant, who also appeared as an actor in one of the show’s episodes, has been identified as a possible central figure behind one of the companies that is suspected by officials of having supplied tainted additives to manufacturers of illicit vaping cartridges, cannabis industry publication Leafly revealed in a report on Friday.
The current lung injury epidemic is closely linked to cannabis vaping products, with about 90% of all affected individuals reporting the use of such cannabis products, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Health officials also suspect that most victims obtained the products in question from illicit sources or unlicensed vendors who weren’t subject to the same testing requirements as regulated cannabis manufacturers.
One of the substances found in many of the samples retrieved from tainted vaping products is Vitamin E acetate, which became popular in the illicit vape market as an additive earlier this year, according to Leafly. New York health officials subpoenaed multiple manufacturers of these types of additives in September.
Among them: Honey Cut Labs, a Santa Monica-based company that has all but disappeared from the face of the earth since vaping injuries first made headlines. Honey Cut’s website has been closed down and its social media pages have been deleted.
However, Leafly was able to identify Temple as the founder and CEO of Honey Cut Labs through trademark applications. The email used to apply for the original Honey Cut trademark is the same also registered by Temple for his IMDbPro account, according to the report. The publication also reported that it verified Temple’s identity through conversations with his former agent. Temple hasn’t responded to Variety‘s request for comment.
Before founding Honey Cut Labs, Temple worked as a casting assistant on 39 episodes of “Veronica Mars,” as well as on shows including “American Heiress,” “Desire” and “Saints & Sinners,” according to his IMDb profile. He also booked minor roles as an actor on “Veronica Mars” and “American Heiress.”
Temple has kept a low profile since the beginning of the vaping injury outbreak. However, it’s likely that he won’t be able to avoid scrutiny for much longer. On Friday, the CDC revealed that it had found vitamin E acetate in all 29 lung tissue samples from patients tested as part of the investigation, calling it a “potential toxin of concern.”