Tuesday 21 April 2020

Cannabis legalisation saves lives - vaping edition

A study in JAMA finds that there were fewer deaths from last year's 'vaping-related lung disease epidemic' in US states where marijuana and THC are legal.

This is very unsurprising. Despite dogged efforts to blame e-cigarettes, which included making up a misleading name for the disease - E-cigarette or Vaping product-use Associated Lung Injury (EVALI) - it has been obvious for more than six months that the problem was caused by vitamin E acetate in black market THC oil.

If you can buy cannabis legally, you have less reason to buy THC cartridges on the black market and therefore less chance of dying from a disease caused by an unregulated product.

Sure enough, EVALI is associated with marijuana prohibition and not e-cigarette use.

The regressions imply that average EVALI case rates were lower in recreational marijuana states by 7.2 (95% CI, −11.8 to −2.6) cases per million population than in prohibition states (P = .003). There was no significant difference between EVALI case rates in prohibition and medical marijuana states (difference = 0.3; 95% CI, −5.3 to 5.8; P = .93). There was no association between the prevalence of e-cigarette use and EVALI case rates (difference = −1.3; 95% CI, −3.3 to 0.7; P = .20).

The authors of the study are strangely coy about aligning themselves with the obvious explanation.

The reason for this association is not yet clear. 

A bit of deductive reasoning will help.

One possible inference from our results is that the presence of legal markets for marijuana has helped mitigate or may be protective against EVALI.

D'ya think?

It is possible that in recreational states, people tend to purchase marijuana products at legal dispensaries, which may be less likely to sell the contaminated products that are thought to cause EVALI. 


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