An Oregon individual’s death has been linked to vaping products purchased from two of the state’s cannabis shops before falling fatally ill, but officials are staying mum about which stores exactly.
The state’s Health Authority has launched an investigation into the death, which occurred in July after the individual had developed a severe respiratory illness. Officials confirmed last week that they believe the victim’s death was linked to use of e-cigarette devices that contained marijuana.
Representatives for the Oregon Health Authority told the Willamette Week it’s unclear whether the victim died as a result of products sold from either of the stores. Dr. Tom Jeanne, a physician for the Oregon Health Authority, said he “would suspect that they are still operating, there’s nothing that I’ve heard that says they’ve not been.”
“We’re trying to get these specific products and have those tested rather than focus on the stores where they were purchased,” Jeanne said.
Oregon Health Authority spokesman Jonathan Modie told the Williamette Week that it would be unfair to identify either of the stores at this point.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean the individual got sick from products that they had purchased at these dispensaries, we just know that the individual shopped at a couple of dispensaries prior to getting ill,” Modie said. “We’re still waiting to get samples of the products and then we send that off for testing.”
“How do you think the dispensary operator would feel if it turned out that the product wasn’t theirs?” he added. “We wouldn’t want to name or point to a specific dispensary before we have all of the information that says unequivocally that that was the dispensary where the product was sold that made the individual sick.”
A string of frightening reports about illnesses, hospitalizations and, now, death have the country increasingly on edge about e-cigarette devices.
The Oregon case marked the second death in the United States to be linked to vaping (and the first to involve a product containing marijuana). Since that was reported last week, officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed three vaping-related deaths, bringing the toll to five.
The deaths and illnesses linked to vaping have come in virtually every part of the country. The first reported death occurred last month in Illinois – a grim development that came on the heels of a sudden surge in vaping-related hospitalizations across the midwest.
Victims have suffered severe respiratory problems including shortness of breath and chest pain; some of the individuals hospitalized in the midwest were originally thought to have pneumonia. The CDC is stressing the risks associated with e-cigarette products, saying in a statement last month that vaping “exposes users to many different substances for which we have little information about related harms – including flavorings, nicotine, cannabinoids, and solvents.”