One of the latest accusations faced by the vaping industry, has been that e-cigs are behind the outbreak of a severe lung disease which has popped up across a number of US states. Up until now there have been over 450 such cases reported, some of which have tragically resulted in death.
Most of the cases have occurred amongst young adults, and the acute disease appears to be lipoid pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and/or chemical pneumonitis. All hospitalized individuals have allegedly reported using e-cigarettes and therefore physicians, health departments, and the CDC alike, had been urging the public to stop vaping.
Recent study points to the use of unlicensed THC products
Meanwhile, the cases reported in California, Illinois and Wisconsin and other localities, have been connected to vaping unlicensed cannabis products. A new study looked into 53 cases by patients in Illinois and Wisconsin, who had vaped within 90 days of their symptoms, typically within the previous week. Most of these patients, 84%, admitted to vaping illegally purchased cannabis products.
“The most common THC product that was reported was marketed under the ‘Dank Vape’ label (reported by 24 of 41 interviewed patients [59%]). Patients reported use of a number of different e-cigarette devices to aerosolize these products.”
“Patients reported using 14 distinct brands of THC products and 13 brands of nicotine products in a wide range of flavors,” said the researchers. “The most common THC product that was reported was marketed under the ‘Dank Vape’ label (reported by 24 of 41 interviewed patients [59%]). Patients reported use of a number of different e-cigarette devices to aerosolize these products.”
In line with these findings, earlier this month FDA’s former chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb tweeted that given the controls set in place, it makes sense that the cases would be linked to the consumption of illegal products. “The legal vapes have been actively regulated by FDA since Aug 2017. FDA has conducted thousands of inspections of manufacturers and vape stores, published manufacturing guidance, sought product removals etc. These tragedies point to illegal vapes and THC,” he said.
“Health officials can target imports and conduct blitzes at international mail facilities to try and capture, shut down more illegal and counterfeit vapes and source some of the dangerous products. There are already published FDA lists of known dangerous ingredients to look for,” added Gottlieb at the time.
The danger in purchasing unlicensed THC
“Consumers must also be aware that not all products are created equal; quality control testing is critical and only exists in the legally regulated marketplace.”
To this effect, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) had issued a warning urging consumers “not to buy THC vape products from unlicensed retailers.” The organization’s Deputy Director–Paul Armentano–explained the danger associated with the use of illicit THC vaping products.
“Unregulated illicit market cannabis products, like products in any unregulated marketplace, are of variable quality and may put some consumers at risk. These incidents linked to the use of unregulated, illicit market vapor cartridges reinforce the need for greater market regulation, standardization, and oversight … Consumers must also be aware that not all products are created equal; quality control testing is critical and only exists in the legally regulated marketplace.”
What advice is the CD offering?
Meanwhile, renowned public health expert had already spoken up about the fact that the CDC is not offering any useful advice. “..there are indeed some further details that the CDC could include in its recommendations. At a minimum, they should be telling the public not to vape THC oils, including butane hash oil. Second, they should be telling people not to use any oil-based vaping e-liquid product.”
“Third, they should be telling people not to use any e-liquid unless you know what is in it — that is, do not buy products off-the-street and stick to products being sold at retail stores, especially closed cartridges where there is no risk of contamination or the presence of unknown drugs,” he added.
Following the warning launched by NORML last month, Siegel had spoken up again. “The CDC continues to remain silent, even though it has become clear that vaping THC oils, particularly those obtained on the street from unlicensed sellers, is a risk factor for the “mysterious” respiratory illness that has affected close to 200 individuals. The CDC has yet to issue any kind of warning, preferring instead to continue to scare people about the dangers of all vaping products, making no distinctions whatsoever between the myriad types of vaping products on the market.”
Finally, after weeks of generic warnings, due to recent reports linking the condition to the use of unlicensed products, the CDC, FDA, and HHS, are finally advising consumers to refrain from purchasing THC and other e-liquids off the street, where they are untested, unregulated and therefore possibly unsafe.
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