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CDC clarifies stance on vaping illness, admits that bootleg THC products are likely to blame

Published Sep 30th, 2019 6:04PM EDT
vaping illness
Image: Lee Jones/Shutterstock

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In a “better late than never” move, the CDC has issued an update to its documentation on the so-called “vaping illness” that has been sweeping the nation over the past two months. THC products, the agency says, are likely a major factor, with unregulated street-level sales of tainted THC vape cartridges being the primary culprit.

In a new press release, the CDC notes that over three-quarters of people who have reported lung issues after vaping already admitted to using street-bought THC oils, with only 16% of people insisting that they vaped nicotine-based products. Mmhmm. This, combined with recent investigations revealing harmful ingredients in unlicensed THC products further supports what many have been saying from the start: It’s not vaping that’s the problem.

As soon as the first confirmed death from a vaping-related illness was reported several weeks ago, it became clear that something truly bizarre was happening. Seemingly out of nowhere, dozens of people were being hospitalized with serious lung issues after vaping. That number grew to hundreds, and thus far a dozen people have died as a result.

But vaping isn’t exactly a brand new trend, so for these illnesses and lung damage to appear all at once suggested an unseen factor was at work. THC products were implicated early on, but soon the media frenzy over “vaping deaths” left a scar on the entire industry, and bans on all vaping products have been proposed across the United States.

When I wrote about this exactly one month ago I noted that after the first wave of vaping-related health issues popped up in Wisconsin, nearly 90 percent of people admitted they were using THC vaping products. THC is illegal in the state, meaning that the likelihood of those products coming from unlicensed sources is extremely high.

As all of this was unfolding, lawmakers (who rarely have any idea what they’re talking about) cast a shadow over the entire vaping industry, demonizing the practice as a whole and suggesting a universal ban on any and all vaping products. Much of that legislation is still in the works, and some cities have already followed through with bans.

Will any of that be undone as it becomes increasingly clear that illegal THC products are the cause? I won’t hold my breath.