VAPING Not just counterfeit: Legal THC vaping products linked to lung illnesses

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VAPING Not just counterfeit: Legal THC vaping products linked to lung illnesses

 

By Erika Edwards

New evidence shows that legitimate THC vaping products are also making people sick, meaning that illegal, off-brand vapes aren’t the only products to blame for the current outbreak of vaping-related illnesses.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reports that at least six patients suspected of having the vaping lung illness purchased THC products at licensed marijuana dispensaries in that state.

Will vaping bans do more harm than good? Some public health experts say yes.

Health officials did not reveal which dispensaries or brands bought legally were implicated.

This is not the first time that a case of the lung illness has been linked to a legal product. In September, the Oregon Health Authority announced it was investigating the death of a woman who reported using a vaping device from a cannabis dispensary before becoming ill.

“It’s been a real failure of public policy that we have this message that if it’s bought in a store, it’s going to be safe,” said Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a nonprofit organization that opposes the legalization of marijuana.

Still, bootleg vapes do appear to be behind a majority of vaping-related cases nationwide. On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 80 percent of hospitalized patients with EVALI, or e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury, had used a THC product. By far, the most common product was a counterfeit brand called Dank Vapes, used by 56 percent of patients.

Some patients said they only vaped nicotine, not THC, so the CDC recommends avoiding all vape pens and products until more is known.

Since the EVALI outbreak began, a variety of investigations into the illnesses have pointed to multiple problematic ingredients, such as vitamin E acetate used as a carrier oil, or toxic metals leached from the devices into the e-liquids.

VAPING Not just counterfeit: Legal THC vaping products linked to lung illnesses

 

Each finding appears to be just one part of the larger explanation of why vaping can be dangerous, experts who study e-cigarettes say.

In addition to oils and metals, “there may be other contaminants that we don’t know about yet because the products are so new,” said Thomas Eissenberg, a co-director of the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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