A Young Man Nearly Lost His Life to Vaping

He thought vaping THC would be safer than smoking marijuana, but the fumes shut down his lungs.

Comments: 45

  1. This is terrifying and I'm glad Mr. Rodriguez will recover. It's not just vaping that puts dangerous chemicals and particulates into people's lungs, but cigarettes too. Although I am very health conscious, I had a bad episode of asthma that went on for months about ten years ago. I too struggled to walk up stairs. Today, I cringe whenever I see people smoking, especially young people. I think to myself: They have no idea how precious their lungs are and what it is going to feel like when their lungs stop working.

  2. "Off-brand" THC vape cartridges could have *anything* as an ingredient as they are made in back rooms and basements by uneducated or uncaring individuals. The may contain oils, which are a no-no for inhaling. While I do not support vaping of anything at all, professionally made THC products are safe for use and will not cause these issues. As an example, vaping products have been in widespread use in Colorado for some time without a representative increase in vaping illnesses. As such, we should not assume that all vaping products are unsafe. As to this person's "addiction" to THC, we should remind ourselves that he suffers from anxiety and depression and is dependent on THC for relief for those symptoms. If he didn't have those issues, would not be "addicted" to THC. Addictive potential of cannabis has not been proven over many years of testing, so lets put a nail in that. This young man needs professional treatment for his anxiety and depression so that he doesn't have to self-medicate. THC is not the only thing that will work for these problems and this article should have spelled that out.

  3. @WillyD Reliance on THC to treat mental health issues may prevent people from seeking professional help. THC is a shortcut. How do you get people to do the hard work?

  4. @Denise Grady : There has never been any physical addiction or withdrawal symptoms associated with cannabis use, even cannabis concentrates. That 'reefer madness' myth was debunked years ago.

  5. As Democrats quibbled last night over the various iterations of Medicare for all, I always remember Mayor Bloomberg stating that America already has Medicare for all. Just show up at an emergency room and you will receive the highest quality care available, regardless of whether or not you have health insurance. He wasn’t even being sarcastic or anything, just stating the facts.

  6. @Patrick Just show up at the emergency room, and if you do have a medical emergency, you will be treated regardless of whether you have insurance. And then you will receive a huge bill that you cannot pay. And then everyone who has insurance will end up paying for you because the hospital wants its money. And then we will all have our insurance premiums rise because the greed of the insurance executives is endless. Why not just eliminate the middle man, the insurance executives, and have a system that provides care for all of us?

  7. @Nurse P As a hospital chaplain who sits and visits with folks trying to deal with our healthcare...AMEN

  8. @Nurse P I don’t understand how a hospital would get say Cigna to pick up the tab for the uninsured patient, unless you are saying they inflate the claim charges for everyone else that is insured. The insurances companies, however, pay what they pay, not a penny more. Hospitals, I believe, just have to write off uncollected bills as either bad debt or charity care.

  9. I don’t think taxpayers should be in the hook for this kind of thing. This is one of the reasons I am opposed to national heath insurance. They don’t take care of themselves and I have to pay. The harder I work the more I get paid the more I have to pay for a lifestyle choice.

  10. @Michele You will always be paying for other people's healthcare. You currently pay for everyone else's healthcare, along with paying health insurance executives to maintain their enormous salaries. With national health insurance, you will no longer be subsidizing wealthy health insurance executives.

  11. Right. Taxed Enough Already.

  12. Calling a mental sickness a "lifestyle choice" is extremely cruel but a good reflection on how some people thinks about mental health and why it is still a stigma.

  13. Just how often did this individual vape? The frequency always gets left out of such articles.

  14. @John It says a cartridge for every 2 days, which is an extraordinary amount.

  15. @John: Frequency is definitely not left out here! The young man was vaping THC "vaping much of the time. 'I was never without it,' he said."

  16. NYT, you absolutely need to change your wording and specifically call out that these are THC cartridges, NOT nicotine vape devices, when reporting on these illnesses. Headlines like these that don't use more specific language continues to enable both the federal and local governments to slowly dismantle the nicotine vape community in many states including New York - this is extremely dangerous for many who have quit smoking and use vaping as a means to an end of nicotine use. I urge you to be more responsible with your wording. There is a world of difference, and your wording matters. Thank you.

  17. @Alyssa No one knows what is making people sick, and some who became ill appear to have vaped only nicotine. It is true that the majority of people who got sick were vaping black-market THC. But not all of them were vaping those products. The medical teams investigating these cases are not ready to let any product off the hook. Not nicotine, not THC, no matter where it comes from. This may change as more information becomes available, but in the meantime the experts are saying that they cannot declare any vaping product safe.

  18. Absolutely. Vagaries abound because of imprecise wording. This goes not only for "vaping", but in all areas. Ask anyone who is in severe pain how much the limits many states are putting on opioid dispensation as the direct result of ov er-reporting about fentanyl, or benzodiazepenes taken in conjuction with an opiate. They have 7 day limits in Louisiana for Schedule II opioids now. This is outrageous! Especially for people who are at home and cannot afford inpatient hospice care, or the like. They are living with the pain. Trust me. I know this first hand with my family and dear friends who I loved, (and they) loved me. We all die. The question is, how do you want to "go out"? Better yet, how are we allowed to "go out"? You should have the right to do so with dignity; not with some pharmacist whining on how "you can't do this" or "you can't do that". The world over, millions of people are treated far worse than some people treat a pet dog or cat.

  19. @Alyssa : Unregulated nicotine vapes can also contain contaminants. Many of the vaping patients maintained that they didn't use THC.

  20. It sounds to me like the difference between vaping marijuana and smoking marijuana is similar to the difference between snorting "xyz", or injecting intraveneously "xyz". To be clear, I am not comparing marijuana to heroin or cocaine, etc. I am comparing the methods of assimilating the drugs into the bloodstream, and (subsequently) the central nervous system.

  21. Anyone ignorant enough to take a cartridge full of who knows what chemicals, heat it up, and inhale the resulting fumes deserves whatever they get. I'm all for regulating - or eliminating - these products, but you shouldn't need the government to tell you that this activity is *potentially* dangerous. Take three seconds to think about what you're actually doing.

  22. @RPJ You're talking about teenagers who are not mature, think they are invincible and believe what they read online. If what you said were true, the thousands of people who got hooked on cigarettes (after the surgeon general's warning on packages) would have stopped smoking at once.

  23. @Maggie Lou While I don't agree that these people "deserve what they get", I think that even teenagers can understand the principle of "If you don't know what it is, don't take it." I did. However, at one time there were places that you could take drugs for confidential analysis. Some municipalities supported this because the sentiment was that they needed to know what was out on the street in order to deal with it at rehab centers and hospitals, and get the word out when things being sold as one thing were really something else. .

  24. @Maggie Lou Which part of RPJ's comment are you implying is untrue? RPJ said this activity is "potentially" dangerous. Despite the fact that smoking has been proven to be potentially dangerous, people who get hooked, are addicted and many are apathetic to what the Surgeon General says. THC is particularly potent when vaped and this kid was addicted to vaping this substance. They are drugs; therefore, addictive (and in many cases, cause harm), otherwise there would be less of a push to regulate them. I do agree that teenagers are a tough bunch to influence into doing the right thing, especially since many adults they probably know aren't any better.

  25. If THC cartridges hadn't been available, wouldn't Gregory just be abusing something else? In past years we'd probably have seen him with alcohol poisoning or hepatitis, or seizures from drugs, or he would OD. Even without bootleg THC, he would have found something to keep himself from feeling anxiety or depression. He'd be abusing some other substance and ignoring the health consequences. Society can't prevent stories like his by banning vaping. It has to fill that need with something else - counseling, psychiatric drugs, something.

  26. Please make it MUCH clearer that these were street suppliers and not legitimate, licensed and quality controlled sources.

  27. @Chainsaw Buddha The article makes it sufficiently clear that the THC cartridges were not sourced legally in this case. Cannabis is not legal in NYS in any case. But the article also states that chemicals possibly produced by the vaping devises themselves though legally purchased, such as on Amazon, have not been ruled out, nor any other vaping product. Including presumably, nicotine. “ So far, no vaping product is in the clear.”

  28. @Patrick I have not seen a single word implicating vaping of dry flower. Everything refers to liquid-filled cartridges, predominantly or possibly exclusively black market. People are throwing the word "vaping" around like it's much more specific than it actually is. What makes you think that all vaping products, rather than just cartridges, are implicated?

  29. @Robert I'd like to see more portable dry vapes. But there are serious technical challenges there.

  30. The only thing that belongs in lungs is fresh air.

  31. I was onboard with the headline until the body of the story revealed that he vaped nonstop, literally nonstop for years. That's not vaping's fault, doing anything that much will land you in the hospital.

  32. I have one word for Mr. Rodriquez: edibles.

  33. I have been vaping nicotine for 6 years and my lungs are good. More recently, maybe 1 1/2 years I have been vaping THC from multiple sources and no problems. I think that the question that needs to be asked is why now? If we can answer that it will take us a long way to a correction. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water because something has changed and it probably is in street vapes. I think that the word should be spread but thay won't stop the vaping but if the cause is found and published everyone can change their production methods. Producers want to know as much as anyone else.

  34. @Satyaban Wait 15-20 years and see if your lung function remains “good.” Truly, not rocket science to recognize lungs are delicate and long term inhalation of chemicals isn’t a good plan for longevity.

  35. @Ellen My lung function is good enough to do high intensity, high impact aerobics workout videos starring women 30 years younger. I'm also a hardcore skier. I ski fast and hard. My lungs still work pretty well at 11,000 feet.

  36. @Patricia - Many smokers of actual cigarettes could have said the same. As Ellen said, wait 15-20 years and see how things are then.

  37. Thank you, Gregory, for sharing your story and I hope you continue with therapy -and keep focus on your studies at Queensborough. You can do it; your degree will open up career possibilities plus your mom will be so proud on your graduation day!

  38. I can't believe what I'm reading! I'm not an expert in THC products but I am an expert in addiction. People have responded that this is the young mans fault. This is where the "know it alls" are way over their heads regarding addiction. No one sets off to be an addict! Addicts brains are different from "normies". There is a predisposition in their brains at birth. It is also hereditary. Addicts don't one day decide, let's do our absolute worst to our family, friends and to ourselves. They don't want to drain their bank accounts on whatever drug/alcohol they are imbibing in. They don't even realize it's progressing to the point of death. They just know they need more. The words people have used in this article in their responses such as "they should have known or I didn't do that" don't understand addiction at all. These are not bad people, they are sick people. Sometimes, the only thing that works is prayer. They see people are dying but believe the words "This will never happen to me". Before you condemn others, look at yourself in the mirror. It's usually the ones who yell the loudest, that have much in common with these people.

  39. Dude is the perfect poster boy for Reefer Madness 2.0. The current ban vaping hysteria may be unprecedented. Literally trillions of hits have been taken from thc oil vape cartridges over the last decade with very few reported cases of lung distress until July of this year. In the past four months, about 1500 people have been admitted to hospitals with severe lung damage akin to industrial chemical inhalation incidents. Ten people have died. Street manufactured cartridges and counterfeits are clearly the cause. Good advice would be to get your vape carts from dispensaries who perform and publish tests on their products.

  40. This young man kept vaping "even though it sometimes made him cough violently". The problem was that he was vaping an *adulterated* THC oil in large quantities. Legitimate THC oil producers go to great lengths to ensure that their product is full spectrum and pure. This man bought his oil from an individual who evidently cut his product with a foreign substance. That's the problem, not vaping in general.

  41. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope this helps others who have an addiction to vaping THC. Best of luck to you!

  42. Never had a problem with pen vapes. This is something new, so it must be an adulterant. BTW, it's not true that pen vapes deliver more THC than smoking a joint. That depends on the potency of your weed. And it's not true that pen vapes lead to addiction. I have a pen vape sitting on my desk right now and it's been sitting unused all day. It's also simply untrue that marijuana withdrawal causes violent leg shaking. The most that happens is a few days of mild anxiety. It's dramatic enough to suffer lung damage. There's really no need to dress the story up with reefer madness melodrama as well. Dry vaping, where you heat up the herb itself instead of an extract of the herb, is better. It's not very convenient to have to keep filling a vaporizer chamber with dried herb. Kinda messy. But at least there's no possibility of adulterants. This is why we need legalization throughout the country. Organized crime is involved in the non-legalized states and good luck getting them to obey regulations on safety and purity.

  43. When I see the huge cloud of smoke coming out of the mouths of persons vaping my reaction is "Wow - all of that was in that person's lungs". That is way more smoke than you see cigarette smokers exhale. How can that be good for you or better than cigarettes?

  44. was vaping thc legal in his state? it seems far safer to use a vape pen that you can buy in a normal store in a state where its legal