Dr. Khare, founder of Innovative Wellness weighs in on recent reports of vape-related illness
As reports of alleged vape illnesses continue to rise, many medical cannabis patients are wondering – should I stop vaping? Rahul Khare, MD, president and founder of Innovative Wellness weighs in, answering this and other common questions.
Q: Are vape products dangerous?
A: The investigation into what is causing the recent vape-related illnesses is ongoing. It’s important to keep in mind that there are many vape products on the market. Some are vape “juice” made for e-cigarettes, while others are medical cannabis products made by licensed manufacturers. There is a considerable amount of illegally produced cartridges being sold on the street, too. While the method of consumption may be the same, the products are not, and some may carry a significant risk.
When e-cigarettes first came to market, they were intended to be an alternative to nicotine cigarettes, alleging to be safer for people who were already smokers. What wasn’t anticipated, was the influx of new smokers, the interest among youth, or the frequency at which users would go through smoke-free, vape cartridges. For people who are attempting to quit smoking, these may play a role in getting them to the end goal. For others, my advice is to stop using e-cigarettes. These products come out before the research, so the long-term effects are not clear.
Cannabis vape products work by heating herbs to a level just hot enough to extract THC, CBD and other cannabinoids. It is a common method of consumption for medical cannabis patients that allows the symptom-relieving compounds to be absorbed into the body quickly, and is steadily growing in popularity due to its ease of use. If used correctly, and in proper doses, it is generally believed that these products are safe and have medicinal benefits. However, few studies have been done on vaping, so the long-term effects are not yet known.
The greatest area of concern surrounds the use of vape cartridges sold illegally on the street. Whether alleging to be e-cigarette “juice”, CBD or cannabis, the bottom line is, buyers do not know what exactly the cartridges contain. While investigations are ongoing, many suspect that these products are behind the recent illnesses. It is not safe to use products that are produced or purchased illegally. Further, you should not attempt to modify products you purchase legally, or on the street.
Q: Why are people getting sick?
A: The exact cause of the recent vape-related illnesses is not yet known, but there is speculation that vitamin E acetate may be a common link between the cases. The FDA has found this chemical in cartridges tested with THC, however not all of the patients who have fallen ill report having vaped THC. Investigations are ongoing. The bottom line is consumers should not purchase cannabis or nicotine products on the street, as there is no way of knowing what the cartridges contain. Cartridges should not be modified in any way either.
Q: Should I stop vaping cannabis?
A: Cannabis vape products that are made by legitimate manufacturers and sold at dispensaries are heavily regulated and generally believed to be safe, however investigations are ongoing. The effects of inhaling vapor have not been widely studied, and there is potential for anything inhaled to impact your lungs. I tell patients it is a personal choice. At this time, I am comfortable with patients who rely on cannabis as medicine to continue vaping if their pens are purchased legally and are not modified in any way. There are however many other methods, such as edibles, tinctures and RSO products to consider. Our Innovative Wellness team is available to consult with patients on products that may be best suited for their medical needs. We can also advise patients on alternatives to vape products.
Q: What symptoms should I look out for?
A: Symptoms that have been reported include shortness of breath, cough, vomiting and in some cases, fever. Any time you have a sudden onset of symptoms, whether you vape or not, you should contact your physician and seek medical care immediately.
Innovative Wellness provides cannabis focused medical care. Our knowledgeable team is available to consult with patients on cannabis strains to best alleviate their symptoms. We also provide traditional, primary care medicine, and have practitioners available to take care of all of your health care needs. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit www.innovativewell.com/cannabis-certification.