There is a complete disconnect between the facts regarding the investigation of the "mysterious" illness that is affecting more than 300 people in the U.S. (mostly youth and young adults) and the health warning messages that are being communicated by public health officials. The majority of the cases have been associated not with the use of electronic cigarettes (which use nicotine-containing e-liquids) purchased at stores, but with the use of marijuana (THC) vaping carts purchased from drug dealers.
I have already reported that across California, New Mexico, and Wisconsin, 54 of the 57 cases that were reported as of last week were confirmed to have been associated with the use of THC oil (California: 21 of 21 cases; New Mexico: 8 of 8 cases; Wisconsin: 24 of 27 cases).
Yesterday, it was reported that of eight case patients interviewed in Minnesota, every single one of them reported having vaped THC, not nicotine. According to a state health department official quoted in a Minneapolis Star-Tribune article: "All of the ones we’ve interviewed, eight of eight, said they used an illegal THC product."
In addition, the second death caused by the outbreak, which occurred in Oregon, was also associated with the vaping of cannabis, although the product was apparently purchased at a licensed dispensary, not on the black market.
So we now have five states, widely separated geographically, in which the vaping of THC oils or marijuana vape carts has been identified as the primary cause of the outbreak.
In light of this information, you would think that health officials would be issuing very clear warnings to our nation's youth not to vape marijuana, especially THC oils purchased off the street. Instead, health officials continue to emphasize that the primary risk factor for these severe illnesses is "vaping" or "e-cigarettes" generally.
This stark contrast is evidenced in an article reporting the death of a person in Oregon from vaping marijuana. After readers are informed about this marijuana-related death, they are given a CDC warning "that people who vape consider avoiding e-cigarettes while they investigate." Don't consider avoiding vaping marijuana, just avoid using an e-cigarette. Since many youth do not associate e-cigarettes with marijuana, even this broad recommendation is likely to go unheeded.