The CDC report is based on 809 EVALI patients across Illinois, Wisconsin and Utah. The compiled data indicated that while the majority, 627, cited “informal” sources such as family, friends and in-person or online dealers, 131, or 16%, reported acquiring their products from commercial and legal sources.
To this effect, lawmakers are now cautioning about legally obtained THC aswell. “The data is clear on two fronts,” said Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana and a former senior drug policy adviser to the Obama administration. “Legal, licensed products cannot be conclusively stated as safe – as Big Marijuana’s lobbyists have so desperately tried to do – and legalization has only served to make the underground market more dangerous. The significance of this data release cannot be understated.”
In November, the CDC had confirmed that the outbreak of EVALI, is almost certainly not linked with vaping legal nicotine products. Testing the lung fluids from 29 of the case patients, the agency had found that all 29 contained vitamin E acetate, also known as Tocopheryl acetate.
Can self-reported data be trusted?
In line with this, in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last September, researchers had emphasized that while in a small percentage of the cases under investigation, the participants claimed to use only nicotine not THC, it is highly likely that for obvious reasons they may have been reluctant to admit to using illegal drugs. Subsequently, the aforementioned CDC report had confirmed just that.
“This is significant because although not all of the case patients admitted to using THC vapes, the finding of vitamin E acetate in their lungs essentially proves that they were indeed vaping THC oils,” said Siegel referring to the CDC report. “This does not mean that they were lying; they may simply not have known what was in the product they were vaping, especially since most of these products are purchased off the black market or obtained from friends or dealers.”
Similarly, lawmakers should now exercise caution before making sweeping statements about legal THC products, as reports based on self reported data, are open to biases and misreporting.
Read Further: USA Today