The recent rash of severe illnesses and six vaping-related deaths could potentially spur a crisis within the burgeoning cannabis industry, which relies on vaping for a large percentage of its business in legal states.
If Colorado is any barometer, which it likely is, vaping has become extremely popular.
According to data published by Colorado’s Department of Revenue, there was a 78% increase in the number of cannabis concentrates sold to consumers from 2017 to 2018.
Although flowers still make up a larger share of the total market, Colorado data showed that the proportion is changing as concentrate sales rise.
Legalize it already!
While many have been advocating for it, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) called on Congress to legalize cannabis as a way of dealing with what is now being called the “vaping crisis.”
The NCIA argued that so long as cannabis is a federally illegal substance, it will continue to fuel an out-of-control black market, hinder important research and limit the creation of reasonable regulations.
“These unfortunate illnesses and deaths are yet another terrible, and largely avoidable consequence of failed prohibition policies,” Aaron Smith, the NCIA’s executive director, said in a statement.
The vaping crisis still raises question
While federal, state and local health officials scramble to identify the causes of the outbreak that has affected 36 states and the Virgin Islands, according to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), no businesses or specific products have yet been implicated in the outbreak.
The two Oregon pulmonologists, Dr. Jason Wells and Dr. David Hotchkin, who treated a vaping patient for five weeks at The Oregon Clinic in Portland, spoke about the situation.
At the family’s request, the name of the victim has not been revealed nor where he legally purchased the cannabis concentrate.
Dr. Wells and Dr. Hotchkin told Oregon Live that they had long harbored suspicions about vaping and were now categorical about using e-cigarettes of any kind.
“It’s important that people understand that vaping is dangerous,” Dr. Hotchkin said.
Dr. Wells added: “Putting a foreign substance in any form into your lungs is not safe.”
The doctors said their patient seemed to get better after specialized machines withdrew then pumped blood back into his body. Until the very end, they said, recovery seemed possible.
“It’s one of those cases that will stick with you for your career,” Dr. Wells said.