Unregulated cannabis vaporizer cartridges tainted with a potentially deadly lung toxin have hospitalized seven people with pneumonia-like symptoms in Hanford, California, officials there reported Wednesday.
The cluster of tainted vape cart poisonings caused the Kings County public health department to issue a rare warning this week urging consumers to avoid buying cannabis e-cigarettes from unlicensed sellers. Street cannabis products are not subject to the rigorous testing that licensed products undergo in California.’If you’re going to vape THC, get it from a licensed dispensary where you know there’s a certain amount of testing required.’Dr. Milton Teske, Emergency Room Physician, Adventist Health Hanford, California
“If you’re going to vape THC, get it from a licensed dispensary where you know there’s a certain amount of testing required to do. It sounds like it’s going to cost twice as much as the stuff on the street, but you don’t want to end up in with a life-threatening respiratory condition,” said Dr. Milton Teske, a health officer with the Kings County Department of Public Health.
Officials haven’t yet determined the cause of the lung illness, the public health warning says, but they’ve determined that all cases so far have involved cartridges purchased from unlicensed pop-up markets. Some think the cases could be tied to similar clusters of vape-related poisonings that have recently been reported elsewhere in the country.
“Anyone that vapes THC they got off the street and has shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, and trouble breathing—go to the ER and tell them you’re vaping, and have heard about this acute respiratory distress syndrome developing from that,” said Teske, who’s spent the last 35 years as an emergency room physician in the rural central California town of Hanford, where three patients remain in care at Adventist Health Hanford hospital.Shopping for Legal, Clean Cannabis?LEAFLY LOCATES LICENSED STORES NEARBY
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In the past 30 days, six people in their 20s and one 60-year-old have been hospitalized for severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (SARDS) at Hanford’s intensive care unit. Two patients had to be put on mechanical ventilation to save their lives.
“If they hadn’t been intubated, they wouldn’t have made it,” Teske said. “And if it got any worse, they wouldn’t have made it.”