A bizarre sequence of events is ongoing in North Carolina. Over 60 people from the American military were admitted to medical clinics within the state for the same problem. However, the ailment wasn’t easily explainable as flu or a virus. Instead, the only link among the 60 is that all have had their illness attributed to vaping. Two have already died from the mysterious condition.
The investigation is far from concluded, although the speculation is that synthetic cannabinoids, or ‘fake cannabinoids’ are to blame. Synthetic cannabis such as Spice or K2 are made by spraying hallucinogenic chemicals onto shredded plants bit and sold as a cheaper – and ultimately more dangerous – option to real marijuana. The 60 military personnel in North Carolina are all thought to have vaped synthetic cannabinoids. As yet, there is no indication as to where the synthetic cannabinoids were sourced.
Nausea, vomiting, headaches and heart palpitations were just four of the unwelcome symptoms that these North Carolina servicemen have suffered from. The two patients who have died did so due to seizures. However, the synthetic cannabinoids themselves have not been labelled as the cause of death – rather, authorities have blamed the side effects. Vape-related illnesses haven’t risen among the general North Carolina vaping demographic, another sign that the issue is confined to the military.
The Army Public Health Center has warned that the problem could “spread quickly across the army.” Cannabis vape oils come in many forms – some are high in CBD, some are high in THC and others have an even mix of the two cannabinoids. Low-quality vape oils, however, may contain synthetic cannabinoids. Unfortunately, some companies do not disclose a full ingredients list, and with the market unregulated, they get away with it all too often.
It has become more acceptable in recent times for soldiers and veterans to medicate with cannabis – there is research to suggest that the psychoactive THC chemical could help to treat flashbacks and nightmares induced by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental illness that many military personnel suffer from.
However, the statement made by the Army Public Health Center reaffirmed that cannabis usage, while permitted among soldiers, is not allowed for those who are actively serving. This rule is even applied to CBD oil products, whether derived from hemp or cannabis. The health center acknowledges that CBD products don’t have any negative effects to health but is keeping the ban anyway.
Perhaps this explains the uptick in vaping-related illnesses – unable to access safe, genuine cannabis, soldiers are turning to riskier synthetic cannabinoids. It’s time for the army to reconsider its steadfast position against all types of marijuana, and question whether its cannabis policy is keeping soldiers safe and healthy.