Health officials in Massachusetts revealed this week that six patients have suffered illnesses likely linked to marijuana vaping products purchased from dispensaries. Those reports, which are unconfirmed, are alarming, given that they stem from regulated products, and not those purchased from the illicit market.
The reported illnesses also come a week before Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is slated to lift a temporary ban on all vaping products. Baker issued an emergency order banning the products back in September amid a nationwide epidemic that saw dozens of individuals die and thousands more fall seriously ill from vaping. Three vaping-related fatalities have occurred in Massachusetts.
“One of the experts said that, ‘We don’t have time to wait. People are getting sick and the time to act is now.’ I couldn’t agree more,” Baker said at the time.
The temporary ban is set to be lifted on December 11, although it will come with new restrictions governing the sale of e-cigarettes and other vaping products that were etched out in legislation signed by Baker. The governor’s administration also said that the state Department of Health will present new regulations surrounding the sale of vaping products on the same date.
According to the state government website, the new legislation signed by Baker “includes a number of restrictions on the sale of tobacco products, including limiting the sale of flavored nicotine vaping products to licensed smoking bars where they may only be smoked on-site,” while also giving the Department of Health “new authority to regulate the sale of nicotine vaping products, to ensure the public is informed about the potential dangers of vaping and to implement other provisions of the law in order to protect the public health.”
The six new illnesses reportedly stemming from regulated marijuana vaping products remain shrouded in mystery. The Boston Herald reported that the state health department “did not specify which products were linked to the six cases or which dispensaries they were purchased from, leaving marijuana users with little answers as to whether the vapes they legally purchased, before the ban, are safe.”
That prompted Shaleen Title, a commissioner at the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, to call for more information.
“Obviously, some urgent next questions here: What products did they report using/from where? Did they also report using unregulated products?” Title tweeted Friday. “Looking forward to working further with MA health officials and grateful for their collaboration toward our common goal of public health.”