What You Should Know about THC and Vaping
By: Lakeview Health
Published: November 11, 2019

Recently, THC and vaping are one of the health events in the news. More than 1,600 people have become ill, and 34 have died from vaping-related lung illnesses. The CDC has investigated this one class of vaping products implicated in many of the illnesses. These unregulated and unlicensed cartridges contain THC, the main psychoactive chemical found in cannabis. The CDC reported that 78% of the patients who gave information on their habits reported using products containing THC. Data shows pre-filled, illicit THC vape cartridges could be what is making people sick. Thus, it isn’t just vaping or THC, in general, making people sick, but instead a combination when vaping certain THC products.

Why Is THC and Vaping a Problem?

In the past, people used to vape with dried herbs. However, people are now vaping with preprocessed manufactured oils. These oils all involve different ingredients. Health regulators haven’t kept up with this new reality, even in states where marijuana is legal.

Vaping and THC Black Market Products

Understanding the issues with THC and vaping means understanding the materials involved. Vape devices, also known as e-cigarettes, are battery-powered and deliver nicotine through an aerosol. These work by heating a solution of colorless solvents and other additives. When an individual vapes THC, the solution also has THC oil. Different devices aerosolize any THC liquids. The most common are vape pens that are pre-filled cartridges. Users can purchase the cartridges from stores in states that have legalized marijuana or from black market sources, such as online shops or dealers. There isn’t a lot of information about the black market products, which is why it’s an issue.

How the Products Can Sicken People

Investigators haven’t figured out a specific product that could be at fault for the illnesses since not all patients have reported using THC products. However, investigators do have some ideas about how this could be happening. Since THC cartridges could be the issue, there could be some ingredients introduced that are making people sick. One possible contaminant is Vitamin E acetate found in 89% of cartridges tested in Utah. Even though it’s safe to use in nutritional supplements, it’s not safe to inhale into the lungs. It can also be another ingredient not identified yet that is causing the issue.

Recommendations for THC and Vaping

The FDA has recently released some guidelines about THC and vaping. You shouldn’t use vaping products that contain THC, especially ones that contain THC obtained from an illicit source or off the street. You shouldn’t add to or modify any substances, such as oil or THC, found in vaping products, including those you get through a retail establishment. There hasn’t been a vaping product approved by the FDA for any therapeutic uses. You should contact your healthcare provider for information about using THC to treat other medical conditions. There are no safe tobacco products, and adults who currently use one shouldn’t start using e-cigarettes or other vaping products. THC use is associated with other health effects. The best way to avoid these effects is not to use THC at all.

Symptoms of Vaping and THC Illness

The list of symptoms associated with vaping lung diseases is likely to grow, but there are some symptoms to watch out for, including:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue

E-cigarette users who experience similar symptoms should seek prompt medical attention.

Treatment for Marijuana Use Disorder

If marijuana and THC use is negatively affecting a loved one’s life, there can be help. Due to societal pressures, this can be one of the hardest substances to give up. Many people feel like they don’t have a problem. Marijuana may not be physically addictive the same way other drugs can be, but psychological addiction is powerful. Just because there aren’t any physical symptoms, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t dependency. Contact [Direct] for help with drug dependence.