Ohio medical marijuana companies ban two chemicals from vaping products

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Ohio medical marijuana processors have voluntarily banned two substances from their products in the wake of a spate of vaping-related hospitalizations and deaths.

A group of Ohio medical marijuana processors recently identified two substances that they will no longer allow in their products, following nationwide reports of vaping-related hospitalizations and deaths.

Fifteen medical marijuana license holders, including 12 cannabis processors, voluntarily banned two chemicals: medium chain triglycerides (partially man-made fats used to reduce levels of cholesterol in the blood) and polyethylene glycol (a petroleum derivative compound made from the main ingredient in antifreeze that also can be found in skin creams and as a food additive).

The license holders include processors Buckeye Relief in northeastern Ohio and BeneLeaves Limited in Columbus, and dispensary Pure Ohio Wellness in Springfield.

Medical marijuana companies never used those chemicals anyway, but have pledged not to put them in any products in the future, said Thomas Rosenberger, associate director of the Ohio Medical Cannabis Cultivators Association.

In response to questions about the industry’s voluntary ban, an FDA spokesman referred The Dispatch to the agency’s website.

FDA investigators tested samples of vaping products linked to the hospitalizations, but have not yet identified any substance responsible for the victims’ breathing problems.

Of the 705 samples tested as of Dec. 4, 451 contained THC, the intoxicating ingredient in marijuana. Roughly half contained Vitamin E acetate, and 24 percent contained a diluting substance such as medium chain triglycerides.

Industry researchers “took a hard look at what should, and should not, be in the product based on what the science said, and what other states had done,” Rosenberger said.

Vitamin E acetate already is barred from vaping products in Ohio.

Nationwide, 2,291 hospitalizations and lung injuries –and 45 deaths – have been attributed to vaping as of Dec. 3, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Victims were admitted to hospitals with breathing problems that health officials linked to their use of vaping products.

Franklin County Public Health has identified 12 hospitalizations related to vaping, and Columbus Public Health has identified four, along with another three suspected cases.

Health officials have said that the victims’ symptoms mimicked other respiratory problems, raising the possibility that the true numbers are even higher.

Ohio’s medical marijuana industry has defended its products, and attributed the hospitalizations and deaths to illegal products.

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