As a cannabis wellness advocate, the controversy surrounding vaping is concerning and when asked what I think, I find myself in a difficult position.
Our lungs are very delicate organs meant only for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Inhaling anything other than oxygen into our lungs exposes them to damage that is irreversible. So, if you ask me, is smoking/vaping an okay thing to be doing? My answer is No.
However, here is the dilemma. For those who are addicted to nicotine and have been smoking for years and years, a switch to vaping is a better option than cigarettes. Ideally, I would like to see that person off nicotine completely but the chemical dependence is so severe with this drug that it is almost impossible.
Regarding cannabis, if you are using cannabis for medical reasons, there is no need to smoke or vape. There are many other options available if you so choose. However, for those who use cannabis recreationally and smoke flower, a switch to a vape could be a safer option. With vaping being a fairly new technology we simply don’t know what it does to our lungs over time however with the rise in lung illnesses my prediction is that vaping does cause some lung damage.
Beyond the use of a vape to replace smoking, there is the balance between protecting the public and freedom of choice. Is it a person’s choice to smoke or vape regardless of the known health affects? If it is the government who must protect the public from these known health affects, then what does that look like? And if we know smoking is dangerous then what about alcohol, and other seemingly “innocent” drugs such as caffeine? It gets complicated very quickly.
What we know right now is that something is going on with how vapes are being manufactured, and there is no doubt that the illicit market is a huge part of this crisis. My recommendation is stop ALL vaping until we know more. Here’s what we know: 12 deaths, over 800 reported lung illnesses.
The CDC says patients typically experienced coughing, chest pain or shortness of breath before their health deteriorated to the point they needed to be hospitalized. Others reported symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever and weight loss.
Many victims have ended up with acute respiratory distress syndrome, a life-threatening condition in which fluid builds up in the lungs and prevents the oxygen people’s bodies need to function from circulating in the bloodstream.
Many of the patients, but not all, reported recent use of THC-containing products, while some reported using both THC- and nicotine-containing products. A smaller group reported using nicotine only
No evidence of infectious diseases has been identified in these patients, therefore lung illnesses are likely associated with a chemical exposure
No single product is linked to all cases of lung disease
Many of the products that have been implicated in the rash of lung-related ailments are bootleg THC cartridges from companies of ambiguous origin
It has become common practice by bootleg companies making their own oil to add various adulterants as thickening agents, to make the oil in the cartridge look thicker and more legitimate (up to 70% thickening agent and 30% cannabis oil)
The FDA says it is too early to tell whether Vitamin E Acetate is the cause
The CDC advised the public to refrain from using ANY e-cigarette — cannabis, nicotine, or otherwise
The AMA urges the public to avoid the use of e-cigarette products until health officials further investigate and understand the cause of these illnesses
The Department of Health and Human Services are urging people to avoid buying THC cartridges off the street until further testing is conducted