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Vaping illness in U.S. gives Canada pause as legal sales near

The serious lung illness affecting hundreds of people in the U.S. who vaped cannabis-based oil is giving Canadian health officials pause as that country prepares to allow the sale of vaping products in its legal marijuana market.No illnesses have yet been reported north of the border, but they are monitoring the situation closely, and British Columbia's top health official says it's just a matter of time before symptoms are reported in Canada."There is no doubt in my mind that we will see cases pop up in Canada in the next few weeks now that we have started really looking for it." said Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia's provincial health officer.Canada last year became the second nation — after the small South American country of Uruguay — to legalize and regulate marijuana, but legal sales of edible and vaping products are not due to begin until later this year. The illicit vape market in Canada is estimated to be worth about $1 billion, said Megan McCrae, board chair of the Cannabis Council of Canada, an industry group for licensed pot growers.In the U.S., the outbreak of the lung illness began in the Midwest in July. Health officials on Thursday said 380 confirmed and probable cases have been reported in 36 states and one U.S. territory. Doctors say the illnesses appear to be a response to the inhalation of a caustic substance. Symptoms have included shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, diarrhea and vomiting.Many stricken adolescents and young adults, previously healthy, have required machines to help them breathe. Six deaths have been reported, all adults and at least some with pre-existing lung problems or other conditions that may have made them more susceptible.'We're on the lookout'No cause has been established, but some researchers suspect vitamin E acetate, which recently has been used as a thickener, particularly in black market vape cartridges. Suppliers say it dilutes vape oils without making them look watery. Inhaling oily vitamin E droplets into the lungs can trigger pneumonia.That could give all the more reason to legalize and regulate the products, McCrae said."Most of these issues coming out of the U.S. are related to black market product and what black market producers are doing to cut corners," she said.Health Canada has asked vape users to report any symptoms, and Henry said she and her counterparts across the country are sending notices to ...Read more

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