Across 33 states, 450 people have been diagnosed with a mysterious lung condition that may be related to vaping. Although the CDC has only confirmed 215 cases as being vape-related, the true number may be much higher.
As we’ve previously reported, it doesn’t appear to be every vaping fluids that are causing the problem. Instead, the cluster of cases that have drawn the CDC’s attention appear to be linked with vaping THC.
To date, four people have died from the condition. So why is vaping THC so lethal? And where do users go from here?
Vaping THC is a new trend
According to one report from Vice, THC vapes became mainstream around 2012. In addition to making cannabis use more discreet, THC vapes make it more accessible. Unlike when you smoke cannabis using the usual methods, relatively little preparation is involved.
By heating marijuana at a lower temperature, THC vape producers hoped to make it safer. The high burning temperatures that come with traditional use are associated with lung damage. Theoretically, lowering those temperatures could eliminate some of the risks. Unfortunately, the CDC’s investigations are proving this theory wrong.
Lungs that are aging rapidly
So far, the CDC is investigating a small number of cases. Although figures in their hundreds may seem like an astonishing amount, it’s minuscule compared to most robust medical studies.
Despite the small numbers, the results so far are concerning. One patient, named Adam Hergenrender, has shared his chest x-rays with the media. Following two years of THC vape use, he was hospitalized with flu-like symptoms and a chest infection. According to his physicians, his lungs look like those of a 70-year-old man. Adam is only 18.
With such descriptions coming from the media, it’s possible to assume that the damage from THC vapes is lasting. As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, it isn’t clear why a THC vape would cause damage, but a nicotine vape would not. Until cases become more widespread, it’s worth considering whether the adjuncts required to vape THC could be the issue.
Finding alternatives is possible
With three unnamed deaths following the first documented case, it’s clear there are more tragedies to come. For those who have relied on vaping THC so far, what are the alternatives?
Although vaping or smoking cannabis is a reliable way to gain rapid relief from medical symptoms, they’re not the only options available. Depending on the dispensaries patients live close to, they can choose from a range of treatment methods, including gummies and capsules.
These recent cases shouldn’t act as an indicator that medical cannabis is unsafe to use. Instead, they suggest that certain methods of using it are. Until the CDC’s investigations conclude, it’s worth exploring other avenues.