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#FakeNews Alert: No marines died from vaping pot, say U.S. military officials

Just last week, reports of two marines allegedly dying after vaping fake pot began to go viral across social media.  The story was even picked up by such usually reliable publications like Newsweek and U.S. News.  However, the story turned out to be complete fiction as the Associated Press issued a correction last Friday claiming that the deaths were “erroneously reported.”

To be fair, the mainstream is not solely responsible for the #FakeNews story.  The rumor got its start from an official public health warning issued a week ago by the Army Public Health Center that has since been updated.  The first version warned all military personnel to avoid the use of e-cigs and vape pens containing cannabidiol (CBD) oil and other synthetic marijuana products.  The Army substantiated its warning by claiming that two marines had died from seizures linked to vaping the fake weed.

Army officials also claimed that some 33 military vapers in Utah had reported experiencing severe medical reactions after vaping CBD.  This, too, turned out to be false.  When reporters began hounding public health officials in Utah for more details, they would soon discover the truth.  Yes, there had been 40 such cases reported in the Beehive State, but none of them came from members of the military.

A spokesperson for the Army Public Health Center, Chanel Weaver, issued a clarifying statement in the Military Times within days.  Similar rollbacks also appear in the Navy Times, the Air Force Times, and the Army Times

Study shows soldiers strongly prefer vaping

Vaping is growing in popularity among military soldiers of all branches, according to a 2017 survey.  Published in Preventative Medicine Reports the findings suggest that soldiers view vaping as “more satisfying” and “less dangerous” than smoking.  And for military personnel whose very lives depend greatly on their physical fitness, these opinions are not going unnoticed by top brass. 


However, while vaping of conventional e-liquids by military soldiers is not prohibited except in certain restricted areas such as onboard Navy ships, the consumption of marijuana, hemp, and other cannabis products (synthetic or otherwise) is strictly forbidden.  The alert makes this very clear in its final paragraph, which states the following:

“Per Army Regulation 600-85, The Army Substance Abuse Program, Soldiers are prohibited from using hemp or products containing hemp oil and are also prohibited from using synthetic cannabis, to include synthetic blends using CBD oil, and other THC substitutes ("spice"), or any other substance similarly designed to mimic the effects of a controlled substance.”

After a brief surge in e-cig explosions occurring on board Navy Ships in mid-2017, military officials implemented a temporary suspension on vaping devices in these areas.  However, additional reports also suggest that the U.S. Navy seemingly wants to support a soldier’s right to vape by researching a better way to manufacture the lithium-ion batteries that tend to cause these explosions.  According to an article in Popular Science, chemists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) may have discovered a new battery technology that they consider to be infinitely safer that what is currently available. 


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