This is not a scare tactic. People are dying from “the vape.” On September 6,2019, the CDC conducted a telebriefing with CDC’s Ileana Arias, PhD, Senior Scientific Adviser and Acting Deputy Director for Non-Infectious Diseases, as well as other doctors presently handling the crisis, in order to spread the word about what’s known — and not known — about this developing epidemic. An audio recording of the teleconference is available by clicking here. (https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2019/t0906-vaping-disease.mp3)
According to the briefing, a number of deaths (five as of this writing), as well as severe illness, are directly attributable to the now-popular practice of vaping, the practice of using e-cigarette products, as well as cannabis vapes. While leading news organizations have focus their reporting on nicotine-based vapes, according to the CDC, “Many of these patients reported recent use of THC-containing products, and some reported using both THC- and nicotine-containing products.” No answer was provided by the panelists.
That means, in reality, that this issue is centered around MJ vapes. Although a small number reported having only vaped nicotine e-cigarettes, these reports are in the very small minority, and considering the illicit nature of cannabis, may be due to self-reporting omissions on the part of patients (“…a *median* age of 19 years”) not wishing to admit having consumed an illegal drug. The CDC stressed that “…products obtained from social sources or off the street…” are of particular concern; this category does not, in any sense, apply to legal nicotine vapes. Mike Stobbes, with the Associated Press, rightly queried the panel with “is it possible they vaped THC, but just didn’t admit it?” Of course, this is a distinct possibility.
The epidemic has spread to 33 states, so far, with over 450 cases that may fit the description. Wisconsin and Illinois were the first States to report on this disaster. Oddly, Colorado, a state with legal “recreational” marijuana and many heavy vape users, reported no instances of this syndrome. The CDC stressed that on single brand, product, or substance, has yet been implicated, however, various laboratories have concluded that Vitamin E Acetate is the common adulterant present in suspect vape cartridges, and the FDA Forensic lab is now confirming the results brought forth by independent medical testing.
How is this known? Some victims of the lung disorder have provided the vape products to medical professionals for testing; this substance is the one commonality between all samples. This is not normally present in THC, CBD, or cannabis extracts; instead it’s added to “cut” or dilute the product. So far,no legitimate nicotine OR cannabis vapes have been identified. Therefore, the onus of responsibility for this seems to rest on cartel distributed “fake” vapes, often imitating both packaging and product appearance, as well as security features, distributed “on the streets.”
As a consumer, of you are presently vaping THC and NOT purchasing through a legitimate dispensary or legal weed shop, please stop the use of these products. There is a high probability that you are vaping cartel-manufactured vape products, and even if they appear real, often are not. This is a situation that is only exacerbated by cannabis prohibition; however, in even California,where cannabis use is legal, some consumers wishing to save on costs opt for cheaper street vapes, which carry untold risks. If you have been vaping, CDC advises you to begin close monitoring for symptomatology associated with this condition. (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, or others)
While these symptoms are also common among those with an infections disease, if you’ve vaped, it may be the harbinger of something far more deadly than a severe virus or flu. Chest X-rays revealed striking abnormalities; victims could not breathe and required additional oxygen. Noninfectious lipoid pneumonia, the identified issue, is caused by inhaling certain oils. While THC and CBD are the oils that comprise marijuana and hemp, respectively, lipoid pneumonia has never been associated with use of these substances.
Some questions health investigators should be asking themselves pertain to the widespread practice of vaping, now with over a decade of health history, and the sudden appearance of this condition. If Noninfectious lipoid pneumonia is caused by vaping itself, and not an adulterated product, why now the clusters? Why haven’t we seen this happening all along? For those claiming under-reporting is to blame, consider that this is a deadly condition with a rapid onset; something like this has a small probability of flying under the radar for so long.
The probability is that Vitamin E Acetate is to blame. Why would this be added to the mix, when cannabis oil vapes just fine on its own? Profit. Greed. Disregard for consumer safety. All hallmarks of illicit drug cartel operations. And, as stated above, while a very small proportion of affected users claim to have solely vaped nicotine, the majority have either vaped only cannabis or both cannabis and nicotine. Dr. Jonathan Meiman sates in the teleconference,”The goal to try to determine if the cluster of cases we were observing were a true increase or an increase of awareness of recognition by medical providers.”
Of course, this is the scientific way to proceed, and is without a doubt the only way to determine cause with absolute certainly. However, logically, careful reasoning brings us to conclude, tentatively, that this phenomenon is novel, and not a longstanding misclassified condition. Increased doctor awareness is not viable; this is a deadly,debilitating condition that could not have evaded detection for any length of time. Preventing additional individuals from suffering is key here, and so of course, just to be safe, the CDC advises cessation of all vape use by all Americans. With images of Juul® vape pens all over media reporting associated with this issue, most viewers would incorrectly conclude that Juul is at the center of the controversy; nothing could be further from the truth.
Half the patients hospitalized required intensive care, and nearly a third the assistance of mechanical ventilation. This is a serious set of circumstances that could not have evaded health professionals for over ten years, the time vaping has been around. Rather, it seems that cartels control a multi-state conglomerate of street drug dealing; quite possibly, recently, a large cartel decided to further increase profits by cutting street vapes with a non-cannabis oil. Maybe they figured a vitamin would be alright, as vitamin E is generally regarded as safe?
According to Mitch Zeller, JD, director, Center for Tobacco Products at FDA, the government now has over 120 samples of vape products to test that may have been involved in the declining pulmonary health of affected individuals. That’s quite a bit of data to pore over, and what’s being looked for are a variety of substances to gain a more complete picture: “nicotine, THC, other cannabinoids along with cutting agents, additives, pesticides, opioids, toxins.” so far, vitamin E acetate is the only substance reported in all the provided samples. That has to mean something, though such a conclusion is preliminary, awaiting further testing and confirmation.
According to New York state’s Department of Health, lab test found extremely high levels of vitamin E acetate is “nearly all” cannabis products tested in connection with the vaping illness, every suspected sample testing positive. Cannabis, and cannabis vapes, are not legal in New York. Though there is something called “decriminalized marijuana” im the state, all it really means is that cartels can move in and peddle their unregulated wares.
According to a recent report in USA Today, Michael Siegel, tobacco expert and public health professor at Boston University stated, “It is really starting to look like this is a cannabis vaping issue and that it may not have anything to do with e-cigarettes.”
Mitch Zeller, emphasizing the nature of the issue states, ” If you’re, with these increasing reports, if you’re thinking of purchasing one of these products off the street, out of the back of a car, out of a trunk, in an alley, or if you’re going to then go home and make modifications to the product yourself using something that you purchased from some third party or got from a friend, think twice.”
As noted in Cannabistical in the recent past, “decrim” only brings cartels to American cities and towns, peddling their questionable wares to an unsuspecting public. Again, we would like to state that marijuana, as well as marijuana vapes, should not be purchased from illegal dealers. The consumer just doesn’t know what they’re getting, and the results could be potentially fatal. If this isn’t the latest chapter detailing why the present iteration of the War on Drugs fails, and why cannabis prohibition costs more lives than it (purportedly) saves, nothing will bring light and intelligence to our nation.
This is a wake up call: Stop feeding the cartels by buying their illicit marijuana products! You’re only encouraging criminality! You are not buying weed or cannabis oil, in most cases. “Blasted” weed, cannabis oil tainted by solvents and solvent impurities, as well as adulterated marijuana and vapes are all of issue. Unless you want to wake up by EMTs, resuscitated with nalaxone, wonder,”How could this have happened,” users should stop purchasing, and using street weed and vapes now. They could be adulterated with fentanyl. After all, it only takes a micro-dose to get you feeling a little high, and cartels could use fentanyl in cannabinoid-stripped vapes and weed, to substitute for the lost potency induced when the active psychotropic chemicals have been removed, diverted elsewhere for more significant profits.
You could even end up dead. This is no hype; now it’s true that marijuana can kill. Sure, the specifics are wobbly; it’s not truly the cannabis itself that kills, but that’s not the point. Between Eagle 20, fake vapes, and blasted weed, why bother at all? The idea users have in mind is feeling good; nothing feels good about being poisoned or sickened. Legalize all forms of marijuana now, and increase penalties for illegal dealing, as well a for selling fake products.