New York medical marijuana patients concerned about vaping illnesses

September 11, 2019 08:16 PM

For Timothy Mitchell, marijuana products have been life changing.

"I experience my chronic pain like in my neck and my head," said Mitchell.


Last year, Mitchell got his New York state medical marijuana card. He finds long-term pain is controlled best by oral products while short-term sudden pain is best handled with vaping products.

"It's very individualized. There's a lot of trial and error to find your correct dose or the correct strain that you might like," said Mitchell.

Managing his pain just got a little harder. The New York State Department of Health says 49 New Yorkers have been treated for serious respiratory illnesses from vaping products.

Deputy Commissioner of Public Health Brad Hutton says preliminary testing on eight patients shows a possible link to Vitamin E Acetate found in black market products.

"We have clinicians who are hypothesizing that that is something that could cause these symptoms, but I think there's more work to do and other hypotheses to investigate," said Hutton.

For now, the Department of Health is advising all medical marijuana patients to consider alternatives to vaping and stresses any marijuana product consumed should be state regulated.

Mitchell says that's not possible. He and many other patients turn to cheaper black market products because the state dispensaries are too expensive.

Using only state products, Mitchell says his monthly bill runs $850. If purchased at a dispensary in Massachusetts, the cost would be $642. On the black market, the total for one month is between $220 and $325.

Mitchell and many other medical marijuana patients say one of the most cost effective and safe alternatives would be for New York to allow flower product like many other states do.

He's hoping the state will consider reversing the ban they have in place.

"The restrictions on medical cannabis in New York are they work against patients in general because there's a lot of the natural benefits from the plant that area taken away by not allowing us access to flower," said Mitchell.

Mitchell has suggested lawmakers come together for a special session to discuss the issues and possible solutions.


Jacquie Slater

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