The gap between legitimate vape cartridges and fake imitations can be huge. Sometimes, it can be life-threateningly dangerous. A Wisconsin man doctors have just placed into a medically-induced coma is a perfect case in point. And the severe heart and lung damage he suffered after vaping a street THC cartridge is also a clarion call for the importance of legalization. Without access to safe cannabis products, people’s health, wellness, and even their lives are at stake.
Vape Nearly Costs Wisconsin Man His Life
The state of Wisconsin is falling behind the rest of the U.S., and even its neighbors, by continuing to uphold its prohibition against THC. Wisconsin permits the medical use of CBD oil and other cannabis products with negligible THC, but three of its four bordering states, Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota have legalized marijuana. In Wisconsin, however, cannabis consumers have to turn to unregulated, illicit products.
The safety and purity of THC vape cartridges, even in places where they’re regulated, routinely comes under question. Tests have turned up lead, pesticides and other contaminants in vape cartridges. And on the unregulated market, THC cartridges are a black box. Unless you can look up reliable information online or in chat rooms about a particular product—and even then—there’s really no way to know what you’re inhaling when you vape.
Doctors at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin say they still don’t know what type of vape landed the brother of Patrick DeGrave in a medically-induced coma Friday. They don’t know where or from whom he bought it. And they’re still waiting on lab results to find out what the cartridges contained.
All we know is that DeGrave said his brother bought the THC cartridges off the street. And when speaking with reporters, Patrick DeGrave held up an empty cartridge and a box with DANK branding and logos. “These street vapes are very, very dangerous,” DeGrave told WITI. “My brother nearly lost his life.”
The cartridges could come from the same batch of bad concentrate that possibly put eight patients in the hospital with severe lung damage in just four weeks. Each of the eight patients vape, but doctors can’t say for sure if there’s a connection.
Illicit Vapes Are Causing Severe Trauma, Doctors Say
Patrick DeGrave says his brother began having issues breathing after vaping a street THC cartridge. As his symptoms worsened, Patrick took his brother to Aurora Memorial Hospital. Doctors thought the issue might be pneumonia or another pulmonary disease. But they soon realized the cause was likely the oil in the vape cartridge. Within 24 hours of going to the hospital, doctors sedated DeGrave’s brother and placed him in a medically-induced coma.
For now, doctors are unsure if the Wisconsin man, who is in his mid-20s, will ever fully recover. “The trauma that he caused to his lungs is significant, the trauma that he caused to his heart is significant,” said DeGrave.
In light of recent vape-connected hospitalizations, Wisconsin health officials are issuing alerts to warn the public, and especially adolescents, about vape cartridges. “Vaping in teenagers is something that’s harming our kids and we want that to be loud and clear, said Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin chief medical officer Dr. Michael Gutzeit.