Vaping weed puts lung health at risk

Vaping weed puts lung health at risk

Cannabis plants are put on display at a herbal expo in Nonthaburi province early this month. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Cannabis plants are put on display at a herbal expo in Nonthaburi province early this month. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

Doctors have warned against the recreational use of e-cigarettes that contain cannabis as they can harm the lungs and worsen people's respiratory conditions.

Dr Thira Woratanarat, associate professor of the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University, posted on his Facebook page on Thursday about the danger of vaping cannabis oil, saying it may cause acute respiratory failure.

In 2019-2020, many teenagers in the United States were found to have suffered acute pneumonia from using such devices with the plant extract inside.

Citing information provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up until 2020 some 2,807 people are registered as having developed such symptoms.

Research indicated a potential link between vitamin E acetate, used as an additive in some vaping products, and certain vape liquids that contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, Dr Thira said.

Although the recreational use of cannabis is illegal in the US for people under 21, it has become more accessible as many states have recently legalised it. But experts say today's high-THC cannabis products -- vastly different from the joints smoked in previous years and decades -- are poisoning some heavy users, including teenagers.

Cannabis is not a dangerous narcotic like fentanyl but it can have harmful effects -- especially for young people whose brains are still developing.

Nowadays, many Thais prefer vaping cannabis as it is smokeless and odourless with easy access online, where the devices retail for about 3,000 baht. They initially became popular among high-society teenagers, businessmen and some state officials.

According to one business operator in the North, these products must be ordered from overseas. There are two types -- single-use and rechargeable versions that only require the oil to be replenished.

The Rural Doctor Society has also expressed concern about edibles like cannabis-based chicken drumsticks.

"Children may start off with cannabis-based snacks, but that would likely tempt them to try a joint in the future," it said.

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