Thu, Sep 12, 2019 - Page 9 News List

Vaping leaves a trail of dire cases across the US

The US Centers for Disease Control says more than 450 cases of vaping injuries have been identified, many tied to cannabis products

By Robert Langreth and Craig Giammona  /  Bloomberg

Doctors interviewed by Bloomberg said the culprit is still unknown.

The CDC said on Friday last week that the lung injury cases were appearing most often in people who used vaping products containing THC.

While vaping pens with cannabis have boomed in states that have legalized the product, as well as on the black market, they come with unknown health effects. The recent spate of severe and sudden lung injuries have cast a shadow over the entire vaping category, both for cannabis and nicotine products.

The legal marijuana industry posted sales of more than US$10 billion last year, but the federal prohibition on cannabis means there is scant research on the products. While some states, like California, have tightened quality and safety standards and now require tests for heavy metals, regulations vary from state to state.

It is up to consumers to rely on a fast-growing, fast-changing industry made up of big and small players. The black market, of course, remains unregulated.

Tracing the source of the vaping-related injury is particularly problematic. Unlike cigarettes, where a person might use one brand their whole life, people who vape tend to use a wide variety of substances and products, making it hard to narrow down which ingredients are the source of the problem.

When people are injured, the effects can be severe, and doctors are trying to quickly get the word out to colleagues who might be seeing the same things without knowing how to identify a cause.

The New England Journal of Medicine on Friday last week published an analysis of 53 vaping lung-injury cases in Wisconsin and Illinois. According to the study, more than half of patients needed to be treated in the intensive-care unit, almost a third needed to be on ventilators, and one died.

Patients with lung injuries had used a variety of vaping products, with 80 percent using THC and 61 percent using nicotine, the researchers said. The most common THC product was sold under the Dank Vapes label, which was used by 24 of 41 patients who gave epidemiologists extensive interviews.

Dank Vapes’ logo and packaging is used by several sellers, and it is difficult to trace back to any single maker. Messages seeking comment from a company that markets products under the Dank Vapes brand name late on Friday were not immediately returned.

Marijuana vapes have gained popularity in recent years, with the disposable pens and cartridges valued by cannabis users concerned about the effects of smoking. So far, the reports of illnesses do not appear to be dissuading consumers.

Sales of legal marijuana vapes have “continued their steady growth and not shown signs of a slowdown,” according to Akerna Corp, a cannabis technology company that tracks the legal market.

Vaping has benefited from the perception that it is healthier than smoking and the legal marijuana industry has positioned disposable pens as way to draw in new consumers beyond the stoners who still buy the majority of marijuana.

Vapes are also at the center of a push to find a way to deliver consistent doses of weed, the way a glass of wine or a shot is a standard measure of alcohol.

Legal brands often tout that their cartridges do not use cutting agents like glycerine or Vitamin E acetate that make the contents less viscous and easier to heat and inhale, according to Aaron Riley, who runs CannaSafe, a Los Angeles-based cannabis testing lab that has grown since the state legalized marijuana.

This story has been viewed 2633 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top