Hank Investigates: Vaping Marijuana Poisonous Puff

Why is vaping making people deathly ill? Investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan’s exclusive story reveals if you vape what’s in some cartridges, obtained right here in Massachusetts, you could be breathing in a deadly gas. Why do vapers risk-taking a poisonous puff?

It’s a deadly mystery shrouded in smoke people getting seriously ill after vaping.

Doctors across the country are seeing alarming symptoms like chronic coughing, pneumonia and even death.

That has Sean who has vaped marijuana cartridges concerned for his health.

“I’d be coughing a lot. I had a lot of phlegm and mucus build-up,” Sean said.

He says he got some of the cartridges from people he knew, not licensed stores.

And we found those bootleg cannabis cartridges can be very dangerous.

7 News got exclusive access to this Massachusetts certified lab that tested the contents of two marijuana cartridges brought in by worried vapers.

The results are frightening! If someone vaped what’s inside these samples they could be breathing in cyanide gas.

“The poison cyanide?” Hank asked.

“Yes,” Christopher J. Hudalla, Ph. D., founder and chief scientific officer of ProVerde Labs in Milford said.

“So people using this would be drawing cyanide into their lungs?” Hank asked.

“Yes,” Hudalla said.

What’s in the cartridges that creates the dangerous gas? A pesticide that’s illegal to use on marijuana in Massachusetts. When that chemical gets heated, as it does during vaping, it turns into cyanide gas. Breathing that can be deadly.

“That sounds terrifying?” Hank asked.

“It’s horrific. It’s horrific that these are in vape cartridges,” Hudalla said.

Massachusetts stores that are licensed to sell marijuana vaping products are required to test them to make sure this pesticide isn’t present.

The danger comes when vapers buy from unlicensed sources.

“My opinion is these are manufactured purely as a means to make money without any care or consideration for the consumer or the impact on their lives,” Hudalla said.

Sean says vaping bootleg marijuana isn’t worth the risk and when he quit vaping his symptoms went away.

“That’s definitely something to worry about,” Sean said.

The Centers for Disease Control says many of the victims reported vaping bootleg marijuana products before they got sick.

Governor Charlie Baker is so concerned about vaping that he put an emergency ban in place to stop all Massachusetts stores from selling any vaping products.

If you have a tip or story idea email: TellHank@whdh.com

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