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BREAKING—Federal government is finalizing policies to “clear flavored e-cigarettes from the market” tweets HHS Secretary Alex Azar
 
Special Issue on Vaping Illnesses
Kansas confirms state’s 1st death linked to vaping, 6th nationwide
 
Kansas health officials reported the state’s first vaping-related death this week, making it the sixth such death in the nation thus far. The decedent was over age 50 and had a history of underlying health issues. He was hospitalized with symptoms that rapidly grew severe, leading to his death.
 
Kansas has six reports of vaping-related lung disease, three confirmed or probable and three currently being investigated.
 
Read Boston Globe story here.

 
What we know about the
mysterious vaping-linked disease and deaths
 
Yesterday, the Washington Post summarized what we know so far about vaping-related severe lung illnesses. 
  • As of Friday, 450 cases have been identified in 33 states [as of today, 41 states].
  • Six deaths have been reported, including one in Oregon that is the first linked to store-bought products.
  • About half of the cases in New York involved a chemical used as a thickener in THC vaping pods sold on the Internet, on the streets, and in some dispensaries. That agent, Vitamin E acetate, is safe to eat but may not be safe to inhale into the lungs. 
Yesterday, Reuters Health News reported the CDC is not ready to blame illicit "street vapes" for these illnesses.
  • Dr. Dana Meaney-Delman is leading the CDC’s investigation into why this is happening. Thus far, she has reviewed data from 64 patients, 80 percent of whom vaped THC, the chemical in marijuana primarily responsible for creating a “high.”
  • The CDC warns people not to vape any THC or nicotine products until health authorities can identify what is causing such severe cases of lung disease. 
Friday, the New England Journal of Medicine published several articles about vaping illnesses. One displays images of vaping-damaged lungs to help physicians identify the problem in people who show up at hospitals with severe cases of breathing difficulties.
 
Read Washington Post article here. Read Reuters Health News article here.
Read New England Journal of Medicine articles herehere, and here.

 
Oregon authorities won’t release names
of two cannabis stores that may have sold
fatal vaping products
 
Last week, the Oregon Health Authority investigated that state’s first death from vaping-associated lung disease. Thursday, officials acknowledged that the deceased man had bought products from two state-licensed marijuana dispensaries, which could still be selling products associated with the disease. However, authorities won’t tell the public the names of the two stores.
 
Officials say they don’t have enough information yet about what products were bought from those two stores and whether the victim purchased other products elsewhere or made some himself.
 
Read Willamette Week article here.

 
FDA - Vaping Illnesses: Consumers can help protect themselves by avoiding THC-containing vaping products
 
Five days ago, FDA issued a Consumer Update telling the public it’s best not to vape anything while investigators are trying to figure out what is causing such severe lung damage, and in some cases, death.
 
FDA says many of the products tested by the states and by FDA contain THC, a psychoactive marijuana component. Some also contain nicotine, and several contain Vitamin E acetate.
 
“Because consumers cannot be sure whether any THC vaping products may contain Vitamin E acetate, consumers are urged to avoid buying vaping products on the street, and to refrain from using THC oil or modifying/adding any substances to products purchased in stores. Additionally, no youth should be using any vaping product, regardless of the substance,” the bulletin states.
 
Read FDA Consumer Update here.

 
INDUSTRY - Is vaping cannabis bad for you?
 
Today, we received an email newsletter from Surterra Wellness, the $100 million medical marijuana company founded in Atlanta in 2014 that operates in Florida, Texas, and Massachusetts thus far. The newsletter features three of Surterra's most-loved vape pens and an article from the company’s blog titled, “Is vaping cannabis bad for you?”
 
Given the warnings from CDC and FDA asking folks not to vape THC products until the mysterious cause of severe vaping-related lung damage can be unraveled, one would have thought Surterra would echo the health warnings. Au contraire.
 
Surterra Wellness says it talked with Dr. Nicholas Bottaro about the benefits of vaping marijuana. Here are a few examples of what the company is telling the public:
  • “There’s no evidence to suggest that vaping pure cannabis oil is toxic to the body.”
  • “So, now that we understand vaping clean, pure cannabis is not harmful for the lungs, we can move to why this is a necessary route for some patients.”
  • “When cannabis is heated and vaporized, the specific medicines contained within the cannabis plant enters [sic] into your bloodstream unaltered.”
  • “Lastly, it has been shown in multiple studies and case reports that vaping cannabis in [sic] uniquely beneficial for the lungs specifically.”  
Read Surterra’s medical advice here.
 
FDA – FDA warns JUUL Labs for marketing unauthorized modified risk tobacco products, including in outreach to youth
 
Two days ago, FDA sent two warning letters to the popular e-cigarette maker JUUL Labs. One says JUUL has claimed in presentations to school children that its e-cigarettes are “99% safer” than cigarettes, “much safer” than cigarettes, ‘totally safe,” and “a safer alternative than smoking cigarettes” without having first applied to FDA for clearance to make such claims.
 
The second letter, to JUUL CEO Kevin Burns, requests “documents and information from JUUL Labs regarding the company’s marketing, advertising, promotional, and educational campaigns, as well as certain product development activity.”
 
Both letters cite Congressional hearings at which JUUL and others testified about company marketing practices targeting children, of great concern given the surge in e-cigarette use among adolescents and young adults.
 
Read FDA News Release here.
 
In addition to FDA, the Federal Trade Commission sent warning letters to three unnamed companies making false medical claims about their CBD-infused products. Failure to take corrective action could violate the FTC Act and result in an injunction and an order to return money to consumers.
 
Read FTC News Release here.

INDUSTRY - No, JUUL doesn’t make J Pods, but somebody does, and these teens promote them for use with JUUL
 
You learn a lot about how the marijuana industry behaves when you visit YouTube. In this Cottonmouth Media video, Matt Meredith and Shiva review J-Pods, which enable JUUL users to switch out JUUL’s nicotine pod with a J-Pod containing THC.
 
The video has had 325,000 views so far. View video here
You can see more about J-Pods on Instagram here.
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The Marijuana Report Staff
Executive Editor
Sue Rusche
Editor
Nicole Carter
Proofreading
Harry Rusche, Professor Emeritus
IT Consultant
Lee Clontz
Social Media Coordinator
Margarita Eberline
 
We are grateful to our Board of Directors and Senior Adviser for their support of National Families in Action, which produces The Marijuana Report website and e-newsletter.
 
National Families in Action
Board of Directors

William F. Carter, Chairman of the Board
Realtor Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Georgia Properties, Atlanta.
Sue Rusche, President and CEO, Atlanta.
Richard L. Brown, Secretary
Attorney (Ret.), Lakewood Ranch, Florida
Founder & Chairman, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association 
Jeannine F. Adams, Director
President and CEO, J. Addams & Partners, Atlanta.
Jack L. Arbiser, MD, PhD, Director
Thomas J. Lawley Professor of Dermatology
Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University, Atlanta
William H. Avery, Director
Partner (Ret.), Alston & Bird, LLP, Atlanta.
Margarita Eberline, Director
Strategy Director, 360 Marketing Plus, Atlanta.
Robert Margolis, PhD, Director
Founder, Caron Solutions Intensive Outpatient Program, Roswell, Georgia.
Shannon Murphy, MD FAAP, Director
Birmingham, Alabama  
Senior Adviser
Kent “Oz” Nelson, Chairman and CEO (Ret.)
United Parcel Service, Atlanta.
 
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