Whether its nicotine or cannabis extract, the number of young people vaping is skyrocketing. A national survey on teens found that about 6% of those who vape have reported vaping cannabis or cannabis extract. Frighteningly, in recent weeks, there has been a sharp rise in a mystery lung illness seemingly caused by vaping.
Outbreak Of Lung Disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 450 people in 33 states have been hospitalized with a similar lung illness and, “six deaths have been confirmed in California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, and Oregon.”
The shocking number of people with vaping lung illness provided by the CDC is expected to continue to rise. While the cause of the lung illness outbreak is not yet fully understood, the CDC and other government health organizations have placed some of the blame on unregulated cannabis extract cartridges. Many of these unregulated cartridges include unknown and potentially harmful chemicals. Health officials from the state of New York said last week that, “extremely high levels of the chemical vitamin E acetate were found in nearly all cannabis-containing vaping products that were analyzed as part of an investigation.”
The presence of Vitamin E acetate in cannabis vape cartridges is frightening. Vitamin E when used on the skin or taken as a supplement at correct doses is typically safe. However, when inhaled, Vitamin E acetate can cause coughing fits, chest pain, and can even damage lung cells. Some experts believe that the presence of Vitamin E acetate in cannabis vape cartridges may be causing the outbreak of lung injury and illness.
How This News Impacts Cannabis Legalization
While many in the mainstream media are using the statistics from the CDC to attack nicotine vaping, much of the evidence suggests unregulated cannabis cartridges to be the culprit. If it is eventually determined with certainty that some or most of the vaping lung illness cases were caused by these unregulated or untested cartridges the argument for cannabis legalization would get even stronger.
Cannabis legalization is a catalyst for a regulated market of additive free, safe, and lab-tested cannabis products. Without regulation, consumers are purchasing products off of the street with no insight into what chemicals are inside. The cannabis industry, which is expected to be worth more than $66.3 billion by 2025, is growing at such a rate that lawmakers must be on their toes if they hope to keep consumers safe.
Cases of vaping related lung illness have already been reported in 33 U.S. states, making this an issue that affects more than 60% of the country. It is paramount that consumers have knowledge about what they are inhaling when they are vaping. The most important step lawmakers can take to make sure cannabis vape cartridges are safe is to legalize and regulate their production. Until this happens, people will continue to be sickened and killed by products that are laced with harmful chemicals.
Lane is based in Southern California and is a content curator for Medical Marijuana 411. He focuses his research into finding informative stories that can help medical marijuana patients better understand their diverse medicine.