Alibi V.28 No.41 • Oct 10-16, 2019 

Baked Goods

Vaping Scare Continues

DOH issues further warning

Baked Goods logo
Rob M.

My inbox has become bogged down as readers grow increasingly worried about reports of people being hospitalized for vaping-related illnesses. I've started responding with a form letter. “Yes, it's a real problem and not a government false flag. No, the injuries don't seem to be related to legitimate cannabis oil sources. Yes, I'm still vaping.”

The number of vaping injury cases in the state has risen to 15, according to a press release from the New Mexico Department of Health. All 15 patients were hospitalized, and 10 of them required intensive care. The problem is widespread across the nation, however. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 1,080 cases of acute lung disease have been reported in 48 states as of Oct. 1. There have been 18 related deaths confirmed in 15 states. But health officials are still in the dark as to what's causing the outbreak.

So far, the only connection between the various cases around the country are their symptoms. Most involved an acute toxic lung injury associated with a single, or limited, use and patients did not appear to be suffering from an active infection (although many of the cases appear to have involved long-term users of vaping products). Those afflicted have experienced shortness of breath, coughing, chest pain, fever, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea. The injuries resemble chemical burns.

The source of these injuries is still unclear. According to the CDC, all the patients reported having used e-cigarettes in the past. “Most” patients reported a history of using THC vaping products, and “findings suggest products containing THC play a role in the outbreak,” said the agency.

Here in The Land of Enchantment, the Health Department says 10 patients reported vaping THC products and only one reported nicotine use. It's unclear if the latter patient was tested for THC to corroborate, though. When I asked NMDOH spokesperson David Morgan if any of the New Mexico cases involved THC cartridges produced by legitimate licensed medical cannabis sources, he assured me that they were all linked to cartridges obtained by illicit means—either through the black market or other avenues.

Nevertheless, the department released another warning last week. In the release, it says that the only way to avoid a vaping-related lung injury is to stop vaping altogether. Otherwise, it's important to pay attention and go to the hospital if you begin suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned above.

Producers Sue Over Limits

Three licensed cannabis producers are suing the state of New Mexico over what they say are arbitrary plant limits.

Until last year, the number of plants a producer could grow in New Mexico was limited to 450. But in November a judge ruled that the limit kept the DOH from providing an “adequate supply” of marijuana for patients enrolled in the program—as is legally required. In March, the DOH declared an emergency and enacted a temporary rule change increasing the limit to 2,500 plants until a new rule was approved. In August, state regulators decided that new limit would be 1,750 plants.

But according to the Santa Fe New Mexican, three licensed producers—G&G Genetics, Sacred Garden and Ultra Health—filed a lawsuit against the DOH toward the end of last month, alleging that the department has failed to adequately research the needs of the state's more than 77,000 patients. The complaint calls the new limit “arbitrary and capricious.”

According to the complaint: “The materials DOH claims support the 1,750-plant rule are riddled with logical holes, unrepresentative data, inferential leaps, contradictions and poor math.” The DOH claims it's done its due diligence, though. The agency says it surveyed patients and producers, consulted experts from other states with medical cannabis programs and reviewed analyses from two producers before arriving at the new limit. Spokesperson David Morgan told reporters that the state was confident about the plant limit and had even included a mechanism to increase the number in the future, if needed.

Ultra Health CEO Duke Rodriguez said that the disagreement stems from DOH estimates of the number of plants needed to produce 42,000 pounds of cannabis per quarter (230 grams per patient, per quarter). Rodriguez says each producer would have to grow 13,500 plants to come up with that amount.

Horn It Up

A recent paper suggests that small amounts of marijuana can increase libido and extend orgasm.

This month's Sexual Medicine Reviews carried a paper titled “Effects of Cannabinoids on Female Sexual Function.” The author, Becky Lynn, reviewed a number of peer-reviewed studies published between 1970 and 2019 using the search terms “cannabinoids,” “endocannabinoids,” “marijuana,” “cannabis,” “female sexual function” and “sexual function.” A total of 20 studies were found—12 human studies and eight animal. All were concerned with marijuana's effect on female sexuality.

According to the review, women were more likely than men to report an increase in libido after using cannabis. For both sexes, a high percentage of subjects reported an increase in sexual motivation with lower doses but a decrease with higher doses. A high percentage of both sexes also report increased sexual pleasure, sensations and satisfaction when both partners used cannabis. More intense and longer orgasms were also reported.

These findings aren't definitive, however. And the roles of specific cannabinoids has yet to be studied at all. As the report points out: “The information we have is limited to rodent studies and questionnaires that rely on memory, with none of the human studies yet being capable of delineating dose, timing, or other objective measures. Although there appears to be a dose dependency … and frequency of use also plays a role, it is not clear to what extent the psychoactive properties of the various cannabinoids play a role.”

I think it's time to test these findings out …

Leaflet logo
Sign me up for Leaflet: news updates and product reviews from Alibi's crack team of medical cannabis journalists.