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Oregon death may be 2nd tied to vaping, 1st linked to legal store

September 5, 2019
Vape pen lung disease - Oregon death may be linked to national incidient
(Marccophoto/iStock)
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP)—Public health officials in Oregon said Wednesday that a person who recently died of a severe respiratory illness had used an electronic cigarette containing marijuana oil from a legal dispensary, the second death linked to vaping nationwide and the first tied to a vaping product bought at a licensed cannabis shop.

Officials have not determined what sickened the middle-aged adult, whether the product was contaminated or whether they may have added something to the liquid in the device after buying it, said Dr. Ann Thomas with the Oregon Health Authority.

“Our investigation has not yielded exactly what it is in this product.”
Dr. Ann Thomas, Oregon Health Authority

Thomas declined to name the brand of the product or the dispensary during the investigation and said it’s the only case of vaping-related illness or death in Oregon that authorities know about.

“Our investigation has not yielded exactly what it is in this product,” Thomas said. “At this point, some of the other states have more data than us.”

As of last week, 215 possible cases of severe lung disease associated with the use of e-cigarettes had been reported by 25 states, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The battery-powered vaping devices can be used to inhale a flavored nicotine solution or a solution infused with marijuana oil.

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Illinois officials on Friday reported what they consider the first death in the nation linked to vaping after the person contracted a serious lung disease. They didn’t say if the e-cigarette contained marijuana oil or just nicotine.

Health officials in some states have said a number of people who got sick had vaped products containing THC, the compound that gives marijuana its high.

In New York state, 32 cases of vaping-related illness have been reported, with a “vast majority” involving people who vape illicit marijuana. None has involved medical marijuana products sold in compliance with state law.

That’s a critical distinction in the Oregon case, according to the American Vaping Association, which has blamed the recent spate of lung illnesses on illegal vape pens that contain THC.

Wisconsin public health officials said late last month that 89% of the people they interviewed who became sick reported using e-cigarettes or other vaping devices to inhale THC.

In New York state, 32 cases of vaping-related illness have been reported, with a “vast majority” involving people who vape illicit marijuana. None has involved medical marijuana products sold in compliance with state law.

New York officials are focusing their investigation on an additive used in black-market vape oils made from vitamin E. A state health department spokeswoman said a lab has found “high levels” of vitamin E acetate in “nearly all” the marijuana samples involved.

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Officials cautioned, however, that there have been respiratory illnesses diagnosed where the vaping product did not contain marijuana.

“It’s kind of scary and it’s hard to believe that any vaping is really safe at this point,” said Thomas, the Oregon doctor.

In Oregon, where marijuana is broadly legal for adults 21 and older, dispensaries can’t sell products that have not been tested by state-accredited labs.

Mark Pettinger, spokesman for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which oversees Oregon’s legal marijuana industry, said the investigation was in its early stages, but if it turns out the THC oil was implicated, his agency can track the product back to its origin and review all the testing results.

In general, all marijuana intended for sale at a legal dispensary is tested for pesticides and potency, as well as for solvents, if the product is not dried marijuana flower.

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U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said he will introduce legislation next week that would tax e-cigarettes in the same way as traditional cigarettes to reduce the appeal to teenagers who are increasingly taking up the popular smoking alternative.

“The products are highly addictive. They’re subject to minimal safety standards and oversights, exposing users to dangerous chemicals … and they are getting into the hands of more and more young people,” Wyden said.

The American Vaping Association said in a statement that vaping products are “far less harmful than smoking” and have helped people break their addiction to traditional cigarettes.

“Making vaping products more expensive has not been shown to reduce experimentation by youth and will only lead to more adults continuing to smoke deadly combustible cigarettes,” association president Gregory Conley said in an email.

Health experts say nicotine is harmful to developing brains. Researchers worry that addicted teens will eventually switch from vaping to smoking.

Most experts agree the aerosol in e-cigarettes is less harmful than traditional cigarette smoke because it does not contain most of the cancer-causing byproducts of burning tobacco. But there is virtually no research on the long-term effects of vaping chemicals, some of which are toxic.

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  • MsNooneinparticular

    It would be REALLY helpful if these articles named & shamed the vape brand & dispensary involved when a person dies from vaping. Why is this info being withheld?

    It’s one thing to get shady counterfeit cartridges on the black market, but dispensaries should be sacrosanct. You shouldn’t even have to worry about whether your cart is legit in a licensed dispensary, whether it’s a medical or recreational facility. This is extremely disturbing if true & marks a new turn in this whole vaping lung disease saga.

    Are counterfeit vapes making their way into actual dispensaries? If so, that’s 100% the dispensary’s fault & they should be called out (and probably shut down by the state). On the other hand, if legitimate vape cart companies are using deadly ingredients & cutting corners, this is their fault & we may have a much bigger problem on our hands. Either way, we need to know what’s going on and fast.

    • Mark L

      There is an investigation going on with this case. Thus, they have to leave out the vape brand and dispensary until they have more information. Did you read the full article? ”
      Thomas declined to name the brand of the product or the dispensary during the investigation.”
      The deceased person may have used one or more vape brands/dispensaries/liquid juice. May have made their own? Please wait for the facts.

    • pdxsays

      They do not have that information yet. In 33 states reporting cases, there is no pattern yet.

      Here’s what they do know:

      1) If you bought it of the street or from some other unregulated source, break it and toss it. A large number of the cases are tied to street purchases. That goes for the cartridge and the battery.

      2) The oil base for the vape is the oil. That is not cannabis or hemp oil in that catridge; it takes more oil than that to create enough vape per draw for the agent you want to be carried into you lungs by the vape – that is for the CBD, THC, tobacco to be dissolved into the hot ape and carried in the vapor. The oil used for all those agents is a vitamin E oil in almost all cases.

      3) Here’s the tricky part that addresses the above questioning of the standard of safety being carried out by distributors and manufacturers, as “over the counter.”

      When we are fetuses, we breathe a liquid – amniotic fluid. As living being, we breath a gas – air, specifically oxygen is taken up by the aveola in the lungs. But our lungs have never encountered a breatheable oil before. So, when the vape hits your lung, it cools down a bit leaving the soluable to be absorbed as a gas, but the oil condenses, leaving a coat of oil on your lungs.

      4) Never having encountered trying to breathe an oil before, your lungs and your immune system do not have an effective method of immuno response. Basically, it goes ape shit, doing nonsensical things and over reacting. The immune system is so borked, the scientists cannot tell yet what it is even trying to do. But what they do know is that they cannot identify anything further than that oil coating the lungs that might be activating the immune system.

      No one is cutting corners.This shit – all the stuff in the vape in legitimate, regulated shops and manufacturers – as vitamin E oil was part of the plan. But no one thought about checking it for effects of breathing vitamin E vapor. Seriously stoopid.

      Plus, we do not know if that is the culprit or not, is but not the direct activating agent, etc.

      5) OK Guys, trained research scientist here by degree (BS neurobehavioral psyche – Alzheimer’s independent research project). I am going to suck it up (HA!) and go to my local area head shop and find some weed and a bong. Tobacco lovers, you know what to do.

      But until this goes clear, I am staying away from the vapes.

      Remember; over half the states are reporting cases, and this all happened all at once.

      So I do think there is a mystery meat involved here; it moves like a contagion. But we have not yet found any patterns to try to test. Give it about five weeks, and they will figure out the 🤡 #whitenationalists sabotaged the vape supplies in the US. 🤪

      6) No reports that I know of outside the US. 🇲🇪 What does that tell you. 🇻🇳
      Just like mass killings with guns – only in the US, although the rest of the world has mental illness, violence, video games and guns.

      • Zen

        You lost me at white nationalists, the gun part, and BS in neurobehavioral psychology.

        Got a degree in molecular biology, did actual work in an accredited testing lab here in SoCal and I can tell you, depending on the product and company, some high quality vapes are often only filled with cannabis products and are generally quite safe, but also very potent. But the problem is is that there are plenty of companies elsewhere, midwest US, the states, who cut corners, don’t get tested, or shop around for unaccredited or substandard labs to do their testing so they get phony passes to their products.
        This is where the product can ultimately be dangerous, because business causes people to cut corners. But inside of very well established systems and people who take the industry very seriously have been and are continually making sure it’s completely safe as it can be for consumers. The other problem is is that these public taling heads aren’t revealing the brands, the origins, and chemicals that are in the suspect vapes. They just group them all together as generalizations. Very intellectually dishonest if you ask me. The devil is in the details, and one bad apple spoils the bunch.

        I’d say wait for the details to come out (whenever they do). Jumping to conclusions about vapes and how the industry is processing them as a whole is silly.

      • Jim H

        I don’t believe the only oil product used for e-cigarettes and vapes is vitamin E acetate. I believe what you meant to say is that is the questionable chemical found in the vape pens belonging to persons who fell sick with respiratory illnesses. (Believed to be caused by vaping)

        Otherwise great post!

    • Anon Amos

      One thing the article said is that it isn’t known whether the cartridge was altered after the buyer had it. They won’t name names yet in case it’s not the manufacturing but rather the tampering that’s at fault.

    • Suzanne Marie Tucker

      YES AND IT SHOULD BE FDA APPROVED FOR THE PUBLICS SAFETY…

    • Zen

      It always seems so convenient that they don’t have any other information besides from “e-cig/vape” but doesn’t go into detail about the compounds in it, product name, and what chemicals are in it. It’s always reported initially and never seems to follow thru with all the details because I’ve been hearing about these cases yet still no detail about what exactly is in them.

      And it’s funny to me that they’ll still say something like “it’s hard to believe that any of these ecigs are safe” despite the vast majority of cannabis vape products that undoubtedly benefit people, or at the least, hasn’t been killing anyone.

      I’d like to hold opinion till the jury is out on this, but the unfortunate thing is is that they never seem to follow thru on all the details, like, ever. So people are just left in limbo and they sit around thinking that it’s all dangerous because some public talking head generalizes all the vapes.

  • Truth$eeker

    Oh fuck cuh.

  • Truth$eeker

    Damn..

  • Doug Schmeig

    Jesus, now they’re saying the stuff was store bought at the beginning of the article because every article was found to be from crap bought on the street

  • Thomy

    It is highly likely, we will find out that those folks who either became suddenly ill or may have even died after using a vape system, have or had a chronic illness, related to a lung disorder such as Asthma, Chronic Bronchitis, Emphysema or any combination of the same. Most vaping systems are labeled with a stern warning for COPD patients in regards use of vaping methods. The reason for the warning is that most folks who suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder or COPD, cannot tolerate the steam created when the patient attempts to inhale the steam created from the vape process. WARNING : Not recommended for people with Asthma, Chronic Bronchitis or Emphysema READ THE WARNING LABEL !!

  • Roger Anderson

    As a retired Registered Respiratory Therapist that uses Cannabis regularly I’m taking this news seriously. I’ll continue to vape flower and concentrates but I’m off of all carts until this problem with vape pen cartridges is solved or corrected. The convenience of cartridges is not worth the pain, agony and possible death from a lung infection.

  • Suzanne Marie Tucker

    All of a sudden this is happening when people have been vapping for years now it seems to comvenient for this to suddenly be happening? Does any one else think the same thing or even a little suspicious…

  • Suzanne Marie Tucker

    Maybe too many people are sharing their vaps to who ever wants a puff and not keeping their vaps clean…

  • Suzanne Marie Tucker

    It was bpught on the street and not in a dispenserie. it isnt regulated by the fda and it should be for quality stadards ETC… Duh…

  • ticobird

    Here is the bottom line. If you value your life like I value mine you will immediately cease vaping anything. Period. Full stop. Smoke is dangerous enough but a relatively new substance such as a vaporized oil remaining in the lungs is unknown territory. Basically everybody vaping these past few years have been guinea pigs. Count yourself blessed and lucky you have not experienced a health problem.

    We take our lungs for granted until we find that we cannot get enough oxygen. Apparently the human lungs are pretty delicate and so important to life and therefore we should not abuse them with unknown substances.

    Smoke cannabis the old fashioned way or ingest it through the digestive tract. Quit vaping immediately!

  • Trying

    Marijuana should be consumed in it’s natural form just as the LORD has made it. I apologize for any problems anyone has had up to and including death from any possible added vitamin E or whatever might be added to contribute to a deadly respiratory infection. Big Pharma will jump on this and will try to strong arm their way into trying to take over the industry. Just a thought.

  • Dee Kay

    “Researchers worry that addicted teens will eventually switch from vaping to smoking” One taste of a real cig after vaping and they wont switch….why you they think it made it easier for us ex-smokers to leave stinkies behind.

  • John Keller

    This “outbreak” of illnesses is highly suspicious to me. Like “someone” is purposefully contaminating product. Go ahead, call me a “conspiracy theorist”; after all, we know conspiracies never occur, and the government and “experts” have never – ever – lied to us.

  • Larry Megugorac

    But there IS oil in flower when we smoke it or vape it….how is that any different when vaping the pure Oil even if there is some Vitamin E oil? The temp of a flame or a vape oven raises the temp of the flower or the oil to the point of vaporizing…… so now it’s all smoke as it goes into the lungs….does that smoke have oil vapor in it…you bet….but it should be no different vaping flower except there is no Vitamin E oil as a carrier….Well the conclusion will be interesting for sure…..cheers!

  • dhectorg

    This is one reason to stick with flower like I do. Bud is what it is, no additives.

  • Never_Speechless

    Im a registered med mar patient. 2 years in now. At first I didn’t like the vapes. They make me cough when flower does not. I’ve never bought black market carts. I’ve only bought a total of 5 over the past 2 years and they were all tested by labs in the state of Massachusetts. Bought at legally approved medical dispensaries. I did notice a year ago the dispensaries stopped selling the carts using a certain substance. Started making it a new way. Had to be a reason for that. When you question them you sometimes get different answers.