Vaping-related illnesses and deaths have been gaining a lot of attention in recent months. As of Nov. 5, there have been 2,051 cases of lung injuries related to e-cigarette or vaping use that have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with 39 people dying thus far.
And while the development is definitely concerning for the cannabis industry given that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) products have been involved, it's unlikely to have a crippling effect on the industry. Here's why.
Vaping cannabis is not a new phenomenon in the industry, and yet, illnesses related to it have suddenly popped up, without warning. In 2016, it was estimated that there were more than 2.1 million middle school and high school students vaping cannabis And yet, there was no outbreak of illnesses tied to vaping that year.
There are certainly more vaporizer users today and more companies getting involved in the segment of the market, which has led to more products being made available. This indicates the possibility that only certain types of products are at fault. That certainly seems to be the case, especially given that the majority of the vaping-related illnesses and deaths appear to be happening in the U.S. If there were truly some fundamental problem related to vaping then the issues would likely be more widespread than they are today. The CDC believes the illnesses are a result of chemical exposure and are analyzing many different types, including Vitamin E acetate, which has been identified as the probable chemical causing the health issues.
There are growing signs that the problems behind the vaping illnesses are linked to products from the black market. With less control over black-market products, there's potential for consumers to face more risks in buying cannabis products from illicit sellers. These vaping illnesses could encourage customers to buy from the legal market. However, until there's a definitive conclusion as to what's behind the outbreak of illnesses, there's a good chance more users will simply steer clear of vaping products.
There's also the risk that states and cities could ban vaping entirely, which is what's already happened in Massachusetts, where a ban is in effect while regulators get a better grasp of what's going on and how best to oversee it. Even President Trump is looking at banning flavored vaping products.