In late August, The Washington Post published a story of a 20-year-old man from Utah hospitalized for severe lung injuries related to vaping. About the same time, an Illinois woman in her 30s died after falling ill following vaping, the Illinois Department of Public Health confirmed on Aug. 23.
With the start of the new month, there are 215 similar reported cases under investigation across the nation, some of them questioning cannabis products being sold in Nevada and California, two recreational marijuana states within driving distance from Kingman where vaping cannabis is common.
Vaping entered the scene around 2010, becoming popular with teens and young adults who switched to e-cigarettes. It revolutionized the tobacco market, and now it’s doing the same to the growing recreational marijuana market.
Currently, U.S. customers spend $3 billion annually on cannabis concentrates, according to Forbes, with vape pens surging as the best way to discreetly consume cannabis.
Some doctors suspect the illness is related to a particular toxin or substance that is being added to the newer products, but some local long-time marijuana smokers say they’ve always had bad feelings about vaping.
“Liquid doesn’t belong in human lungs,” said one smoker on the condition of anonymity. “The form might make all the difference.”
“That’s why we try to not use vape pens that much. I mostly do edibles,” added another, referring to cannabis products such as candies and baked goods.
That is also the opinion of Thomas Eissenberg from Virginia Commonwealth University, who sees inhaling oil into the lungs as “extremely dangerous behavior which can lead to death.”
In the case of the Utah patient, doctors found evidence of abnormal immune cells in his lungs, generally associated with a rare type of pneumonia seen in older people who accidentally inhale droplets from oil-based laxatives like