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State: 6 Lung Illnesses Linked To Regulated Pot Vapes

An unidentified 15-year-old high school student uses a vaping device near the school's campus in Cambridge, Mass. (Steven Senne/AP File Photo)
An unidentified 15-year-old high school student uses a vaping device near the school's campus in Cambridge, Mass. (Steven Senne/AP File Photo)

Six Massachusetts residents with probable cases of vaping-related lung illnesses said they used products purchased from state-licensed marijuana dispensaries, according to data released Thursday.

It is the first time the state Department of Health has linked illnesses to vaping products bought at dispensaries.

The state has flagged 90 probable and confirmed cases of vaping-related lung illnesses. Three of those people have died. Forty-nine people have been interviewed by state officials.

(Courtesy of Massachusetts Department of Health)
(Courtesy of Massachusetts Department of Health)

The department did not say what products were linked to the six cases, or where they were purchased but it did recommend avoiding the use of all vaping products until more is known about the cause or causes of the disease.

The report was released just days before Republican Gov. Charlie Baker's administration is set to lift a statewide ban on the sale of vaping products that started in September.

The Cannabis Control Commission has imposed a separate moratorium on marijuana vape sales. Commissioner Shaleen Title said at a Department of Public Health public hearing two weeks ago that the agency needed information on where vape products were purchased.

The bottleneck came because of patient confidentiality issues, Baker said during a press conference Friday afternoon.

"The CCC and the DPH are working on a memorandum that will make it possible for them to share data, and it's my hope that will be done in the next few days," he said.

David O'Brien, the president of the Massachusetts Cannabis Business Association, told The Boston Globe the state should immediately disclose which licensed operators were potentially implicated in the six cases linked to regulated products.

"The industry wants to know if there's cause for alarm so we can address it," O'Brien said.

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