The respiratory illness that has health officials across the country clamoring for a cause claimed a second life this month. However, in a twist that has taken an already awful situation and made it so much more complicated, the material that caused this death was obtained from a legal cannabis dispensary in Oregon.
Officials are declining to name the victim, the dispensary, or whatever brand of product may have been purchased at the shop. At the same time, officials also report that they are studying the contents of the vape cartridge the victim purchased to determine how the oil caused a lethal reaction and how that material might have gotten into the cartridge in the first place. By law, every product that an Oregon dispensary sells has to be tested by labs that have been accredited by the state itself.
Adding to the puzzle, the Oregon death is the only case of vaping-related illness to hit the state. One would expect a wider swath of victims and illnesses if a dispensary had obtained or produced a bad batch of cartridges. “Our investigation has not yielded exactly what it is in this product,” says Dr. Ann Thomas, an official with the Oregon Health Authority. “At this point, some of the other states have more data than us.” By contrast, New York state has reported over 30 cases of vaping-related illness and a vast majority of those cases are from those who were vaping illicit – or street purchased – marijuana vape cartridges. There have been no cases of vaping-related illness from those taking part in the state’s legitimate medical marijuana program.
As the nation follows deaths and illnesses stemming from vape cartridges, parents of teens across the country continue taking action against Juul Labs; maker of the wildly popular Juul nicotine e-cigarette. An Alabama family has sued the device manufacturer, as well as a shop in their town, for their respective roles in their 17-year-old son’s nicotine addiction. Alleging “permanent brain injury,” the family claims that their son’s behavior became so erratic as to necessitate sending him to military school.