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As vaping illnesses spread, one doctor says ‘grab a joint instead’

Even terminal patients, some with only weeks left to live, have been told to avoid vaping products.

As cannabis culture continues to grow here in the United States, we must ask ourselves, “how mainstream is too mainstream?”.

We see it everywhere these days, from pharmacies to gas stations.  Products such as CBD oils and gummy-bears can be purchased in all 50 states today, with many Americans swearing by the non-addictive compounds for their pain-management and anxiety-reducing properties.

With this boom have also come a slew of innovative ways to ingest both marijuana and CBD products.  Vaping the oil of these plants has become nearly ubiquitous, using tiny cartridges and a handheld battery that heats up the liquid, allowing for inhalation.

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And while marijuana has been proven time and again to be far safer than nicotine, these oil-vapor products come with their own risks – namely due to the non-marijuana ingredients involved.  The latest concerns come from Vitamin E acetate, which is being linked to a number of deaths in recent days.

Although no single substance or product has been pinpointed for the illnesses, most patients have said they used e-cigarettes with THC, the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana. Many also said they were vaping nicotine, with or without THC.

Federal and state investigators said last week one of the most common threads in reported cases of the “severe pulmonary disease” was street-purchased tetrahydrocannabinol or THC oil from marijuana that contained vitamin E acetate.

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This has led one doctor in New York to provide some surprising advice.

Cancer-care expert Dr. Diana Martins-Welch finds herself in an unusual position: Last week she started telling her medical marijuana patients to quit vaping cannabis and pick up a joint instead.

“I would never have thought I’d be in a position to tell someone to smoke marijuana. But if the choice is between smoking and vaping, smoke marijuana.”

Martins-Welch specializes in caring for patients with cancer and chronic pain, and she’s certified more than 700 of them to use marijuana under New York’s tightly controlled cannabis program, which permits vape extracts with THC, the component of marijuana that produces a high, but bans joints.

Martins-Welch is so concerned about this latest rash of vaping-related illnesses that she has told ever her terminal patients, some with only weeks left to live, to avoid using such products.

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