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Cannabis legalisation may reduce rates of vaping injury, finds study

At the peak of the crisis, there were 2,807 hospitalised EVALI cases and 68 deaths in 29 US states.



EVALI: A vape device next to an e-liquid which has no label.

A new study finds states with legal cannabis markets have fewer incidents of vaping-related lung injury.

A new study on e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) published in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal has revealed that cases were 40 percent lower in states where cannabis is legal, and 60 percent lower in states that allowed home cultivation.

Home grow laws were also found to contribute to lower rates of consumers using vape pens.

EVALI was responsible for a number of hospitalisations in 2019. The symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain, as well as gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, or diarrhoea.

Initially, it was thought that EVALI was caused by vaping e-liquids. But it was later discovered, and acknowledged by the US CDC, to be caused by vitamin E acetate. Vitamin E acetate is a diluting agent which is sometimes found in counterfeit or unregulated vaping e-liquids.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that as of 18 February, 2020 there had been 2,807 hospitalised EVALI cases and 68 deaths in 29 states.

For the study researchers compared the data in legal states to the amount of reported EVALI cases.

EVALI cases

Massachusetts, a state with the highest number of EVALI cases despite its legal cannabis laws was an exception.

The researchers noted that this may be because the law went into effect almost two years prior to the first dispensary opened. The delay may have caused vapers to turn to the black market for access.

Authors wrote: “Given that EVALI cases stemmed primarily from informally-sourced vaporisable cannabis concentrates, these results are consistent with crowd-out, whereby the introduction of one market (legal cannabis) displaces utilisation of another (informally-sourced cannabis products).”

“Simply put, if the public can obtain products legally from reputable sources, there is less demand for illicit market products. Thus, cannabis legalisation could have dampened market penetration of tainted cannabis concentrates by reducing consumption of informally sourced cannabis products more generally.”

Read more: Hawaii bans some CBD products including edibles


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