A medical study has found that states with legal recreational cannabis have seen significantly fewer instances of lung illness due to vaping, compared to other states.
Published in the JAMA Network Open, the study showedthat weed-legal states had 1.7 cases of e-cigarette or vaping associated lung injury (EVALI) per million people. On the other hand, states where recreational cannabis is still illegal saw 8.1 cases of EVALI per million.
Researchers analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), combined with population numbers and estimated use of e-cigarettes in each state.
“The data suggest that EVALI cases were concentrated in states where consumers do not have legal access to recreational marijuana dispensaries,” the study’s authors wrote. “This association was not driven by state‐level differences in e‑cigarette use, and EVALI case rates were not associated with state‐level prevalence of e‑cigarette use. One possible inference from our results is that the presence of legal markets for marijuana has helped mitigate or may be protective against EVALI.”
The response from the cannabis community has been, more or less, “duh.”
“These findings come as little surprise,” Erik Altieri, the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), told High Times.
“In jurisdictions where cannabis is legally regulated, consumers gravitate toward the above-ground retail marketplace where they can access lab-tested products manufactured by licensed businesses.”
Altieri made the case that closely-regulated products have historically been safer than their black market counterparts, and cannabis is no different. “Just like alcohol prohibition gave rise to the illicit production of dangerous ‘bathtub gin,’ marijuana prohibition provides bad actors, not licensed businesses, the opportunity to fulfill consumers’ demand – sometimes with tragic results,” he said.
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