Local Cases of VAPI (vaping associated pulmonary injury) Linked to THC VAPING–Healthcare Practitioner Confirms

Passing the Vape…and Playing Dumb for Profit: Exclusive Interview with Local Healthcare Practitioner confirms cases of VAPI linked to THC VAPING

TO SKIP AHEAD TO THE INTERVIEW 

“Why does Maryland continue to allow the sale of THC, CBD, and Nicotine VAPE pens and cartridges? …we are not immune.”

Recent injuries (1,479 ) and deaths (5 to date) associated with vaping are presently causing a huge controversy in the media, the public, and within the recreational and medicinal cannabis communities…But maybe not ENOUGH of a controversy? Because people, patients, are unaware that this is happening in Maryland as well. We are not immune.

Initially in June the CDC (center for disease control) began receiving reports of the illness and in Maryland in  August, health officials reported that there were five people hospitalized with the same complications.

In the beginning it was unclear as to what the main culprit might be. Speculation that people could also experience this lung illness characterized by shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, and even death.  The illness although connected to the use of vaping devices hadn’t been connected specifically to THC or CBD infused vaping products, only e-cigarette products.

THESE ARE THE CDC'S RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE PUBLIC

“They’ve always instructed us “don’t hold it in that long…exhale quickly”. Now, I think we now why.”

Recently LEAFLY released two articles on this subject, which, I think are both good examples of the very least you can do.  They shed as little light as possible on this important health issue.  They sent out two, at least I received two copies, of two emails, each linking to an article on this very subject… 

The first two emails point to an article about how the media has mishandled the vaping illness story.  It, inappropriately  begins with a sentimental bit about the good old days of High Times in 1989 and an article from a “mysterious” contributing author named Dr.LungLife. 

The High Times article was the first to include a list of building materials and detailed  instructions on how to make a a new fangled device to consume your weed called a “vaporizer”. I’m probably dating myself here but I remember this article very well. I was a freshman in college, and well, being an industrious young man with a healthy appetite for new ways to consume cannabis, I decided to undertake the project. I enlisted the help of a few friends.  We procured the materials and built the vaporizer. And we built one.

I can tell you now from first hand experience that this device amounted to no more than really any proper vape should: a heating element (simple car lighter), and on/ off switch to cut the heat going to the lighter and a tube…It really didn’t even work…basically just slowly cooking your flower on the intermittently hot surface of an automobile cigarette lighter powered by a small transformer located in the bottom of a shallow radio shack project box, with a tube sticking out of the other side…hardly anything even close to the high tech vape cart pens of today with any number of additives combined with the THC to mask its odor and lengthen its usability.

LEAFLY also mentions that, along with the instructions were included a different set of instructions on how to produce your own concentrate out of flower to make the vaporizer even more effective, which, incidentally, I don’t recall at all…

I tried to look for the article online but I was only met with dead ends. If anyone can locate it let me know. The issue is High Times December, 1989 and Frank Zappa, of all people, is on the cover.

My point is, that I think LEAFLY is intentionally or unintentionally constructing an analogy based on incongruent sources.  Convection vaporizing, say hash, or hash oil, or shatter, or another full spectrum concentrate is not analogous to using a vape cartridge pen containing a clearly harmful mixture of non cannabis related ingredients at high heat utilizing a plastic and metal atomizer.  They’ve always instructed us “don’t hold it in that long…exhale quickly”. Now, I think we now why.

The issue of High Times containing Dr. Lunglife's flower vaporizer, a basic contraption that has very little to no resemblance to todays vaping cartridges and atomizers

Whether or not the vaping products were purchased from a legitimate and “regulated” source or whether they were purchased on the black market is not completely known at this point.

It is now clear according to several well established clinical resources, namely the Center For Disease Control, has stated that the illness now called VAPI (Vaping Associated Pulmonary Injury) is definitely connected to the consumption of THC and CBD  products through a vaping pen or cartridge.

So far there have been 1479 injuries and 33 deaths. The latest CDC figures  show that out of the 849 patients with VAPI, who submitted data, 78% of them used THC infused vaping products.  Whether or not the vaping products were purchased from a legitimate and “regulated” source (a dispensary or recreational but regulated outlet) or whether they were purchased on the black market (on the street not from a dispensary) is not completely known at this point.

And that, to me, is one of the main concerns in this vaping lung illness story.

The rest of the LEALY piece seemed to be overly concerned with an incongruent headline in a recent Wall Street Journal article on the vaping illness. They focused on, what amounted to, a misprinted headline. Agreed, a massive (maybe subconsciously intentional) oversight…I guess we’ll never know.  But, having worked in print in the capacity of a graphic designer for years, I can tell you that this can happen with even the best intentions.  And so what? The article is what matters. The Wall Street Journal article was concerned with the idea of national recreational legalization in an effort to put an end to black market THC and CBD vaping products all together. 

Also, I was at a dispensary and over heard a conversation between tow fellow card holders that was nothing short of conspiracy theory.  One patient seem to suggest that the medical establishment and big pharma have colluded and along the way co-opted the media to spread a false narrative in a campaign to vilify cannabis.

And recently sources have been conflicting in their coverage.  The latest New York Times article on the subject, Marijuana and Vaping: Shadowy Past, Dangerous Present” (see here) regarding the VAPI crisis gives one the impression that no one is watching the cooks in the kitchen.

 

The best resource beyond the research scientist heralding the cause, Dr. Neal Benowitz, a researcher at the University of California, is Jerred Kiloh, the president of the board of the United Cannabis Business Association, who also happens to be a dispensary owner in California. And when the body of authorities who are supposed to be checking for compliance in California never responded to the NY Times…one has to wonder.
Here is what the New York Times says about  Mr. Kiloh:

“There’s a glaring gap in trying to understand this product,” said Jerred Kiloh, president of the board of the United Cannabis Business Association, which represents 165 marijuana dispensaries in California, where marijuana was legalized for recreational use in 2016.

Mr. Kiloh, who owns the Los Angeles dispensary Higher Path, said he believed that the vape pens sold in his stores and in other licensed and regulated stores are likely safe because the ingredients were measured and tested by the state. The Bureau of Cannabis Control did not return calls asking for comment.

So let me get this straight: their star authority is also a dispensary owner? ok…and the body that actually does the testing can’t respond to the New York Times? ok…hhhmm.

“…the CDC has issued a warning for THC and CBD oil vaping products.” 

Meanwhile, the CDC has issued a warning for THC and CBD oil vaping products.  And, vaping products have been banned in multiple states.  And yet my local dispensaries are advertising massively discounted sales on the very same vaping products daily in my text messages and emails. Wow…really guys? I thought you were on our side.  I guess it’s just more thoughtless money-monocular corporations doing their thing at the public’s expense.

Very disappointing , but I suppose to be expected.  In the end even this is all business right?

The point is through that we don’t know and until we do places like the dispensaries need to slow it down and be our advocates, not prey on us. Which, at the risk of sounding paranoid and making enemies, I feel they are somewhat complicit in doing.

BRINGING A LOCAL VIEWPOINT TO THE PROBLEM…

I thought it more than relevant to bring this to a local level and speak to the Maryland patients and dispensaries and growers by brining and local expert on the front lines of healthcare.

The following is an interview with an anonymous Maryland healthcare provider who has first hand knowledge and experience treating VAPI.  Since, I’ve overheard bud tenders, and I’ve been told myself by bud tenders, that we don’t have to worry about this here, I thought you should know the truth.

So…HERE WE GO.

~INTERVIEW WITH MARYLAND HEALTHCARE PROVIDER~ RE: VAPI CRISIS.

INTERVIEW WITH MARYLAND HEALTHCARE PROVIDER~

RE: VAPI (Vaping Associated Pulmonary Injury) CRISIS.
INTERVIEW CONDUCTED ON  10/23/19

What is your occupation as a healthcare provider in Maryland?
I am a practitioner at an urgent care in Maryland

How long have you had this job?
20 years

Have you seen any cases of VAPI lung illness associated with vaping?
Yes, there have been four patients 2 confirmed and 2 pending via chest X-ray or CT scan.

Do any involve THC?
The two more serious cases involve THC

Did they purchase it at a dispensary?
the 2nd patient claimed they had but no one wants to admit they bought something illegally off the street.

I’m interested bc I’m an mmcc card holder and your an mmcc card holder, that’s how we met, at a dispensary, and I’m just wondering what the allure of these products are…I mean I’ve had them in the past but found them to be not to my liking and they just didn’t work that well for me…It also seemed like I wasn’t experiencing “weed” as we call it…or used to call it.
I would imagine it’s because they are young and/or  they are trying to use cannabis undetected in places that aren’t safe: they shouldn’t be vaping driving down the highways, or in school, or…i can’t speak to their reasons or motives…

I agree so I should back up those patients were all younger ?
correct

what did they initially come in complaining of?
prolonged cough, and difficulty breathing with the first patient it was just shortness of breath..uh light headedness

Are you familiar with Leafly.com?
I have resourced it yes

“They (the cannabis industry) should be taking themselves a little more seriously and be more diligent in their compliance…”

Well recently they have released two recent articles about this subject, one of them is about the main VAPI problem and whether or not cannabis is involved or rather if the thc cartridge vapes are involved and it mostly concerns itself with a recent Wall St Journal Article…
…yeah, I found that to be, um, very upsetting because it seemed to mitigate the concerns for the public safety which has been issued, and anything that causes lung damage and death should be taken seriously, not lightly, especially in this burgeoning industry which wants to be taken seriously in a medical or clinical sense…

I agree it seems like the industry should be policing itself…
Yes they should be taking themselves a little more seriously and be more diligent in their compliance…they should strive to be BETTER than “big Pharma”.

I agree..so…even this was a big Pharma product and it had received this much dubious notoriety…
It would be immediately pulled

It would be off the shelf
…weeks ago..This many fatalities..and it would be taken

It certainly seems that some people think that because you live in a certain state, you are immune to this?”


The 2nd Leafly article to appear was “how is your state taking the ban” referring to or I should say, rather lamenting, the ban of vape cartridges in some of the legal states

and this is a recent development in an ongoing story…however, Maryland isn’t even mentioned in that article…there is no ban here
It certainly seems that some people think that because you live in a certain state, you are immune to this?  It’s ludicrous…Should you vaccinate your children only in Pennsylvania?
I mean, what kind of logic is this?

If something is banned in that many states, by the CDC, then I would think it’s a legitimate concern.

I agree and what we know right now is that we don’t know what combo of ingredients can cause…
Correct, but in the more serious cases of mostly involved THC, or CBD oil..there hasn’t been one death associated with e-cigarettes only, it seems to be either a combination of THC and CBD and NICOTINE or just THC or just CBD.

These patients that you’ve seen, were they aware of this lung illness that’s associated with vaping?
The first patient who had the more serious outcome, no..but the second patient, absolutely..he was under the assumption that because he bought at a dispensary that he wasn’t at risk..and I told him that was absolutely not true…Everyone is at risk, and all these vaping pen products are suspect, until this is completely figured out..

So that leads me to ..
And..

Oh go ahead continue…
…and tested over 10 years actually, because that’s how long it takes to test a drug…before they can assure you it’s safe.


And if you read the LEAFLY article about the mishandling of the subject in the mainstream media, it begins with this sentimental comparison to the first vaporizer that appeared in High Times that you could make yourself..I made this vaporizer incidentally, but it in no way involves anything like the vape pens…it is simply a car lighter which gently heats up the flower…it had nothing to do with, and didn’t even resemble, the animal that is the vape pen or the atomizer..with all its high tech ability to deliver THC with other ingredients
Unstable heating elements…metallic particles released during the heating process…any number of unknown
agents or ingredients added to mask the aroma or make it last longer…all this stuff is a concern…and no one seems to be standing up within the community of growers and dispensaries to say “this is positively safe, and we can prove it” because they can’t…anyone who sells this stuff at this point knows that it is dangerous and could be deadly.

That is very true.

“The CDC has issued a warning that all vaping pens, e-cigs containing nicotine, THC, CBD, should be discontinued immediately…”

So that leads me to my next question about what people in Maryland are aware of….because the CDC is banning this but not in Maryland yet..and I don’t think people in Maryland know about what’s really going on with this..and the threat it poses.

You had mentioned to me that you received a letter from the CDC, because of your job. This something that only a healthcare provider in Maryland would have access to or receive yes?
As of the date I received it yes, that is correct.

THIS IS THE CDC DOCUMENT SENT TO MARYLAND HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS RE: VAPI AS IT IS LINKED TO THC AND CBD VAPING

And what is it?
It is a notice sent to healthcare providers in Maryland regarding the recent lung illness.

(SEE BELOW)

And what does it basically say?
That all vaping pens, e-cigs containing nicotine, THC, CBD, should be discontinued immediately…and that anyone who has used these products in the last 3 months should be advised to seek an evaluation from a healthcare provider.

So In the latest Leafly article regarding the new ban that has been delivered by the federal government, why has Maryland not been included?..the stats say that Nationally, concentrated vaping products account for 33% of the industry so I imagine that is reflected locally..

Also the CDC has stated as of 10/21/19 on their site that out of the 849 patients that have submitted data, 79% had used THC vape cartridges. Whats up?

Well I think the answer to this question is always going to be ignorance

 

“Can you imagine Walgreens having a sale on a drug that has caused 33 deaths since June?”

What responsibility or what role should dispensaries play in this?

because as a Maryland patient, and this probably goes for any recreationally or medically legal state, you get tons of discounts and emails and texts with sales from these places..and they usually involve some drastic discount on these vaping carts..disturbingly enough..seemingly more so since this started becoming a news story…
It seems like dispensaries are only contributing to this problem. because the 2nd patient that had a sequela to his vaping, claimed to using it ONLY because it was from a dispensary..thereby deemed safe.

They (the cannabis industry) should be striving to be better than big Pharma”

So yeah the one thing that’s being banned is always on sale..and at the highest discount possible…So what responsibility do the dispensaries have in all of this?
They have the ultimate responsibility because they are the last in line before it gets in patients hands. they are forging the frontier for all of us and all of us want this to be normalized and if they want legalization and for it to be considered a viable part of the medical community, then they need to take up the mantle of responsibility…Because if this was a big drug company it would have already been taken off the shelf. By now, with 33 deaths, it would’ve been pulled off the shelves…Can you imagine Walgreens having a sale on a drug that has caused 33 deaths since June?

They (the dispensaries) should be striving to be better than the bigger pharmacuitical companies.

So, I’m personally a little bit creeped out that they push these products
Yeah it’s kinda disgusting

And I wonder if it’s nothing more than a dumping of a faulty product..I mean what’s going to solve this
Knowledge…education…awareness.

As we’ve discussed we have cards, we can legally purchase marijuana, and I think we both agree there should be a certain degree of gratitude and responsibility that comes with that, I think we can both agree..t so in the spirit of that, It is sort of “pushing it” to sort of always be trying to use THC right under the awareness of the public or in inappropriate places…and it  seems that  That’s the main lure I suppose?
Right and that’s what I was saying to you earlier, that I think the medical community would only say “hey no one is trying to prevent you from using cannabis, or denying anyone the medicinal effects of cannabis, we just don’t want anyone to do something that is going to cause such immediate and potentially deadly or damage your lungs for the rest of your life…

Were these cases reported to the CDC?
They absolutely do.

Do you report them?
My nurse and I did…Yes

Will you hear feedback on that?
No

Is that normal?
Correct

And, so there is no way of telling or knowing…
I mean we can call them, but they don’t release information about anything until they have weeks of data…The same thing happened when they found cholera in the bay and all that…

Do you think that other healthcare providers are most likely concurrently making reports and we just don’t know about it yet?
Absolutely, because the CDC has deemed us responsible for reporting these cases, just like cases of
Gonorrhea and Chlamydia .

The fed should just come down and say “hey you can sell as much flower as you want, you can sell as much shatter as you want, as much budder, but don’t sell any more of these pre made cartridges or pens.

I think the problem is that the fed has almost completely washed their hands of this in as far as regulating it for safety. As I understand it, it is up to the states, who contract the testing out to private companies.
I think that is partly because the government doesn’t want any legal responsibility in this.

So they are all just basically passing the vape?
Well, I hate to say it,  but eventually, someone’s is going to say “hey my son or daughter or mother or brother or husband purchased this legally from a dispensary and I hold you, and whoever made this product and sold it to you to sell to my child or my husband or my wife or my daughter, responsible for millions and millions of dollars… and guess what? The first settlement…the first twenty settlements… will be astronomical.

What do people do?
Well you know that’s what made a lot of big Pharma companies merge…people can be educated and put their purchasing power to work for one thing or, even, their decision to not purchase an item or a service.

Yes, consumer power…true.  And well, I guess we are trying to do that with this interview.  So, besides this interview, what else…
You can’t police humans to that point..people are always gonna have their free will so it’s only through knowledge and factual proof that someone can be educated enough to say “I don’t wanna die, it’s not worth it, I’ll just buy the flower instead.

If you had to tell someone who, well anyone, something anyone could understand to help them make a better safer decision at the dispensary what would it be?
I would tell them first of all I would ask them if they have a relative with COPD or emphysema, and unfortunately, almost everyone does, and I would say “even if this doesn’t kill you, it has been proven to damage your lungs and give you a long term chronic disability…and it’s not worth it because you could actually achieve the same medicinal effect using flower.

“…don’t be like the “Big Pharma” companies…hold yourself to a higher standard…”


You know it’s important to note that one of my patients said to me “it’s ok I got it at a dispensary”…again the comparison the community doesn’t seem to take itself very seriously and I would hope that they would keep it natural…I mean don’t be like the “Big Pharma” companies… I mean criticisms in magazines like LEAF, that I occasionally see, that criticize “Big Pharma” well, I would say you better hold yourself to a higher standard…If your starting with something that comes from the earth ….how hard is it? don’t put a bunch of junk in it…

Yeah, I mean you do see the words “Nature” and “wellness” etc. tagged with this industry and so the very thought of these high tech pens infiltrating what most of us hold to be dear, is just, well it’s missing the whole point…in my opinion

Humans seem to always find a way to ruin something by attempting to improve on nature’s version.

When you are talking about pharmacuiticals, for the most part, after Foxglove, it’s mostly fake… synthetic renditions of what can be found in the natural world…that’s why cannabis is such an attractive alternative when it is applicable and has efficacy in treating symptoms…

It should be easier for dispensaries to stay natural…they have that choice…they need to make the correct one. Cannabis should remain a natural alternative.

before they continue to lose integrity with the community
Yes…

Well I think that’s about it.  I really appreciate you sitting down with me and informing me as well.  Hopefully this information well get out to the right people…and I hope this interview serves to help others out there make safer decisions when it comes to cannabis.
Thank you and good luck

LINKS:

CDC WARNING
“Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with E-Cigarette Use, or Vaping”

NY TIMES ARTICLE
“Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with E-Cigarette Use, or Vaping”

LEAFLY article on VAPING ILLNESS
“HOW MAINSTREAM MEDIA BOTCHED THE VAPE LUNG STORY”

HIGH TIMES December 1989 COVER
containing “DR. Lunglife’s DIY “Vaporizer” build instructions”

LEAFLY article on VAPE CART BAN
“HOW IS YOUR STATE HANDLING THE VAPING BAN”

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