What’s new about vaping?

Heydi Ortiz and Alex Bowman

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We’ve all heard countless stories about how vaping is bad for you, but what makes this story different? The effects of vaping are starting to show as six deaths have occurred from vaping devices or products. According to the CDC, 215 possible cases of pulmonary illness caused by what seems to be the use of e-cigarettes have been reported in 25 states around the country. 

It’s not really clear what the exact cause of most of these cases might be, but patients have pointed towards the use of THC e-cigarette products. In fact, the Oregon Health Authority reported Oregon’s first death caused by a severe respiratory illness, which was linked to a vaping device. In this case, the patient reported buying his vaping device from a cannabis dispensary. 

The Federal Drug Administration is now testing more than 100 product samples used by patients who developed lung disease. New York state officials are calling out vitamin E acetate – which is being added into marijuana vape pods – as the culprit, though it hasn’t been identified in all of the samples tested.

An Associated Press investigation also demonstrated some operators are taking advantage of CBD’s popularity by spiking CBD products with a cheaper and dangerous street drug. AP tested 30 vape products, mainly focused on brands officials and users had flagged as suspicious, and found 10 of the 30 products tested contained types of dangerous synthetic marijuana more commonly known as K2 or spice. While CBD – though not proven – is used for medicinal purposes, these synthetic cannabinoids have no medicinal qualities whatsoever. 

Additionally, these synthetic cannabinoids are advertised as a legal and safe alternative to actual cannabis. However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse says they’re most definitely not a safe alternative to the narcotic. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the effects these synthetic cannabinoids have on your brain are actually much stronger and more unpredictable than cannabis.  Synthetic cannabinoids are part of a new group of drugs known as new psychoactive substances (NPS). These drugs are unregulated, extremely mind-altering, and in some cases life-threatening.

Not one substance or ingredient has been identified as the cause of the deaths but the dangers are becoming more apparent as more and more people fall victim to the dangers of vaping and more research is done about the use of synthetic cannabinoids. Health officials advise not to vape until more is known about the outbreak of breathing illnesses.

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