Massachusetts state health officials posted that six vaping-illness patients said they bought vaping products at legal marijuana dispensaries. Photo by lindsayfox/Pixabay
Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Six Massachusetts patients with vaping-related illness told doctors they bought regulated THC e-cigarette products at state-licensed marijuana shops, according to information posted by state public health officials.
A total of 90 probable and confirmed cases of vaping-related lung illnesses have been reported in the state, with three deaths.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health posted vape data on its website Thursday that indicated some patients said products connected to the vaping illness were purchased at a state dispensary. The health department said the information was taken from patient interviews and "cannot be independently verified."
"The Commission will use this new data toward its ongoing investigation into whether marijuana products manufactured by Massachusetts licensees contain substances or contaminants of concern," a Cannabis Control Commission official said in a statement.
In September, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker ordered a four-month moratorium on the sale of all vaping products in the state. That ban was set to expire next week.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified vitamin E acetate, a thickening cutting agent added to THC vape cartridges, as a "culprit of concern" in the nationwide outbreak that has killed 47 people and hospitalized more than 2,100.
However, the CDC until now has pointed to black-market THC vaping cartridges as the source of vitamin E acetate which has shown up in the lung tissues of multiple patients from ten different states.
The CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have recommended that people stop using THC cartridges purchased through "informal sources," such as friends, on the street or via the internet. The agencies have also recommended refraining from any use of THC in vaping form until more research has been done.
When asked if vitamin E acetate or other adulterants under investigation had been found in legally purchased THC vaping cartridges, CDC's Teresa Wang of the Office on Smoking and Health said Wednesday in a teleconference that the federal health agency had no specific information about that.
This has been echoed by Anne Schuchat, CDC's principal deputy director in media conferences.
"The data are pointing toward the illicit supply [of THC vape cartridges] but this is a very serious disease which can be fatal and I don't think we know enough yet to completely take dispensaries out of the question," Schuchat said in a telebriefing call Nov. 8.
Investigators have warned the lung illness could be caused by more than one substance or a combination of substances.
Early in the outbreak, Oregon health officials said a patient who had died in July told doctors he used THC vaping supplies purchased legally at two state-licensed dispensaries.