SAVANNAH, GA. (WTGS) — The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has been sounding the alarm over vaping and it has created a heavy smoke cloud over the entire vaping industry.
The CDC has reported more than 450 cases of possible lung illnesses associated with the use of E-Cigarettes.
Five deaths have been confirmed in six states. However, taking a closer look into the CDC data reveals their investigation into vaping revealed “The investigation has not identified any specific substance or e-cigarette product that is linked to all cases. Many patients report using e-cigarette products with liquids that contain cannabinoid products, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).”
“We have seen a huge increase over the past year,” said Gene Harley the Assistant Deputy Director of the Chatham Narcotics Team.
He said that there is a huge increase in the illegal use of those vaping THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol.
“We are seeing a huge increase in the use amongst our young teens to 20 year age population, we are also seeing a large increase throughout our school age children,” he said.
He said the national epidemic of vaping THC is on their radar here in Chatham County.
“Anytime you extract the substance from its original form it is classified as a felony in the State of Georgia,” he said.
According to the CDC, in 2018 more than 3.6 million youths used e-cigarettes including one in five high schoolers and 1 in 20 middle school students. But, is vaping THC the same as smoking CBD (Cannabidiol) or any other vape juice, some say absolutely not.
“As long as a product has less than .3 percent THC it is by law considered Hemp and therefore is non- psychoactive and legal,” said Patrick Stillwaggon.
Stillwaggon, the assistant manager at Mary Janes CBD Dispensary in Savannah said the most recent vaping cases that have gained national attention are due to people buying products off the Black Market.
Buyers are looking to hit THC have no idea what they are vaping, who made it or what is in the product.
“It's problematic, such as vitamin E oil or just a Black Market THC liquid which can have anything from pesticides to heavy metals to chemicals that can combust into sodium cyanide,” he said.
Still not convinced vaping THC is bad?
“We have had many cases here locally where someone said that they voluntarily tried what they thought was liquid THC and had some type of a medical emergency because of it and they ended up coming back that they tested positive for various other forms of controlled substances,” said Harley.
Police say they are gaining ground in the battle against illegal THC vaping and are constantly learning ways to detect that from people who vape salt nicotine, other vape juice products, and CBD.
“We can better identify if it’s, in fact, liquid THC verses a regular vape or something that maybe CBD or even type of a liquid nicotine type substance,” said Harley.