Recent cases involving vaping of synthetic marijuana address dangers

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Two recent cases involving vape shops in Concord and Mooresville are bringing attention to the dangers of inhaling synthetic marijuana through vaping.

Last month in Concord, police arrested two men on illegal drug charges for allegedly possessing bottles labeled as "CBD" oil.  The arrests came after police and fire agencies noted a spike in emergency responses to Cabarrus County high schools for symptoms suggestive of e-cigarettes and/or vaporizer pens being used for Cannabidiol (CBD) oil or synthetic cannabinoids.

There have been 18 cases of suspected use identified since Jan. 1 at high schools in Cabarrus County.

"Students, parents, teachers and the community must understand the seriousness of this problem and the potential to cause major medical issues," said Cabarrus County EMS Director Alan Thompson.

In Mooresville on Tuesday a worker at a vape shop was charged after a student at Mooresville High School reportedly overdosed in February.

Officials say the 5-Fluoro ADB, which is a synthetic cannabinoid, was being falsely sold as "Black Diamond" CBD oil at Tobacco & Vapor on North Main Street.

During a search of the shop on March 9, detectives seized nine vials of the "Black Diamond" which they say were hidden throughout the store.

CBD-labeled or marketed products may not disclose the true contents, which could cause a dangerous and unpredictable reaction.

Synthetic cannabinoids may be referred to as synthetic marijuana, K2, Spice, Spike or others. First responders say this type of "cannabinoid" is made to mimic natural cannabis oils made from marijuana plants.

There have been many other such cases in North Carolina in 2018, including one that prompted a warning from the US Army at Fort Bragg.

The Army Public Health Center issued a warning to soldiers after "approximately 60 patients with medical conditions potentially related to vaping products marketed as containing CBD oil have been seen at Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and the Naval Medical Center at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina."

"Although pure CBD oil has not yet been associated with adverse health effects. CBD vape oils may contain synthetic cannabinoids, concentrated tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and/or other hazardous compounds in addition to, or in place of, CBD oil," the warning states.

“Now they have oils that has THC in it, they put those in the vaping machine and it’s another form of smoking marijuana," said Debbie Insley.

Insley, the Director of Wellness Promotion at Catawba College in Salisbury, and a licensed clinical addiction specialist, says there are warning signs for parents.

"How often they're doing it, when they do it, yes, what's their behavior, does their behavior change, do they seem in touch with things, are they motivated, the same things you if you suspect your child is smoking pot," Insley said.

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