Vapingâ€™s popularity with teens, the rise of CBD oils as a vaping liquid and unscrupulous operators out to make a quick dollar by subbing those cannabis oils with synthetic street drugs have converged in a serious threat to the health of our youth.
And the consequences are deadly.
South Carolina college student Jay Jenkins told the Associated Press that a friend suggested they vape a blueberry-flavored CBD vape oil called Yolo! last year to relax.
Two puffs later, Jenkins was in trouble â€” things â€śgot hazy,â€ť and before he drifted into unconsciousness, he realized he couldnâ€™t move.
â€śI thought that I actually was already dead,â€ť Jenkins said. His friend rushed him to the hospital, where Jenkins suffered acute respiratory failure and lapsed into a coma.
Jenkins was one of the lucky ones â€” he recovered and was released. Lab tests found his vape didnâ€™t contain CBD, but a synthetic marijuana compound responsible for at least 11 deaths in Europe.
CBD is, as they say, having a moment. While cannabidiol is a component of marijuana, it doesnâ€™t cause a high, and is touted as a substance that eases aches and pains, reduces anxiety and is even used in beauty products.
â€śPeople have started to see the market grow and there are some fly-by-night companies trying to make a quick buck,â€ť Marielle Weintraub, president of the U.S. Hemp Authority, an industry group that certifies CBD cosmetics and dietary supplements, told the AP.
Spiking or substituting CBD oil with street drugs essentially boobytraps the vape cartridges for unsuspecting teens riding two trends at once.
Itâ€™s a practice thatâ€™s sent dozens like Jenkins to emergency rooms over the past two years.
How would Jenkins or his friend have known a real CBD oil vape from a spiked one? How would any teen?
Regular vaping is getting its own dangerous rep, as hundreds of users have developed mysterious lung illnesses recently and several have died.
Jenkins had finished his freshman year in college when he encountered the spiked vape. You have to be 21 to buy a vape in Massachusetts â€” which hosts thousands in that demographic thanks to our many colleges and universities. How many may be unlucky enough to try a CBD oil vape, only to find too late that they purchased a spiked street drug impostor?
From mysterious lung diseases to serving as delivery vehicles for synthetic drugs, vaping is revealing itself as potentially deadly pastime, especially for the young.
Itâ€™s time to ban sales of CBD cartridges for vapes until regulators can keep street drugs and synthetics out of the production pipeline.
Itâ€™s also time to do away with ejuice flavors that appeal to teens â€” cookie, blue raspberry, cinnamon roll, cotton candy and the like.
But nothing deters behavior like money â€” and while vaping now is on a par, or cheaper, than smoking cigarettes, levying a sin tax on ecigs could a. bring much-needed revenue to the state and b. go a long way in getting the number of vape users to drop off.
Draconian? Perhaps. But infinitely better than watching young lives snuffed out.