Today, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discussed on a call with press a breakthrough study in determining a potential cause of the marijuana vaping illness outbreak. They did not conclude the source of the crisis. After analyzing 29 lung tissue samples, the CDC state they have found vitamin E acetate in all samples.
“While we are happy to see a breakthrough in this case, we urge caution to the media, government agencies, and other stakeholders in declaring this crisis as being solved,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration. “This study may confirm the presence of vitamin E acetate, however, other studies- such as one conducted by the Mayo Clinic- have found no trace of the substance and have pointed to other sources. Whatever the cause of the injury, we urge governments nationwide to immediately take action in removing marijuana vaping products from the shelves of ‘legal’ pot shops and stepping up enforcement on black market supply lines.”
There is sufficient data to suggest we are far from conclusively answering the question of what substance is to blame for all 2,000 cases of illness and at least 39 deaths. A recent study on biopsies taken from victims of this lung illness conducted by the Mayo Clinic found evidence contrary to the theory that Vitamin E Acetate is to blame. Instead, these researchers suggested the tissues examined more resembled a “direct chemical injury” or a chemical burn.
While the marijuana industry has claimed this to be strictly an illicit market problem, the facts speak otherwise. Numerous deaths and illnesses have been tied to the use of products originating from the “legal” market in Colorado, California, Oregon, and Delaware, among others. Additionally, even if Vitamin E acetate was to blame, it would not be indicative of a black-market problem. Illegal and legal vape cartridges contain Vitamin E acetate. That’s according to one industry insider who said that no less than 60 percent of all vapes, including those sold legally, contain the cutting agent.
“The facts are clear, this vaping illness is tied to products from both the legal and illegal markets,” continued Dr. Sabet. “There have been at least three deaths linked to ‘legal’ products — two in Oregon and one linked to a purchase made in Colorado — as well as illnesses in California, Oregon, Delaware, Michigan, and Utah. The CDC is right: no marijuana vaping product is safe. Now is a time to pause and carefully consider the failure of states to regulate this drug. It is clear that legalization is not a solution to this crisis.”