With the national media alerting the public that vaping could be causing mysterious lung illnesses – which amazingly nobody could predict in advance – hitting the wires over the last month, those who have been vaping marijuana, especially in the state of Massachusetts, have been ditching their vape pens at a fast clip.
The Boston Globe said weekly sales of oil-filled vaporizer cartridges plunged from a recent peak of $919,776 for the seven days ended Aug. 11 to $689,924 last week.
The 25% drop in sales mostly reflects other sales data from states where cannabis is sold legally.
State and federal authorities have warned the public about a mysterious outbreak of lung ailments from vaping that have killed seven people and sickened more than 530 people in 38 states.
As of Thursday, the Department of Public Health in Massachusetts said an investigation had been launched into 45 cases of vaping-related illnesses.
The Globe interviewed pot smoker Horace Small, who is also a member of the state’s Cannabis Advisory Board told family and friends to stop vaping pot, and or vaping in general.
“I just completely stopped,” Small said.
“I had this vaporizer that got me through [a vacation], but I had enough people who love me say, ‘Put the vape down’ — so I did. Folks are scared half to death. All my friends are encouraging each other not to vape and just err on the side of caution until there’s more knowledge on what the hell is going on.”
The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that a criminal probe would be launched into companies that manufacture vaporizers.
“State and federal officials have said they suspect Vitamin E acetate, an additive found in some illicit marijuana vape cartridges, could be one culprit and urged consumers to avoid such products,” The Globe said.
It’s not just people vaping pot but also e-cigarette devices that are leading to the mysterious illness.
Others have said it could be additives in regulated marijuana cartridges, such as propylene glycol, leading to the vape crisis.
Brandon Pollock, chief executive of the marijuana company Theory Wellness, said vape cartridges at his stores in Great Barrington had plunged 20% since the crisis first went viral on social media and mainstream news last month.
Pollock predicts vaporizer sales will rebound because the public health crisis surrounds black market vape cartridges.
“I’m not surprised there’s an initial contraction,” he said. “I actually expect an increase in sales as people really exit the black market. I think people right now are just digesting the news — in the long run, this is good for the regulated cannabis industry.”
And cancer-care expert Dr. Diana Martins-Welch has told her medical marijuana patients in NYC to immediately quite vaping pot and pick up a joint instead.