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Salt Lake County man becomes Utah’s first vaping death

Photo: Nam Y. Huh, Associated Press

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah – A Salt Lake County man has become the first person in the state to die from vaping, according to the Utah Department of Public Health.

The man was under the age of 30 and had vaped THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana. It’s unclear where he got the illegal cartridge.

The victim died at his home.

No other details about his death have been released.

Some law enforcement agencies and health groups in the state, however, are urging people to stop vaping marijuana.

Ciara Gregovitch with the state Opioid Task Force says black market suppliers have been putting a lot of additives in those illegal pods, which are odorless and can be deadly.

“Like an opioid, like a benzodiazepine, or flakka…It’s easy for them to put it in there because it’s undetectable,” Gregovitch says.

Some of the pods have THC levels of 90%.

“The typical marijuana joint runs from four to nine percent THC,” Gregovitch says.

The illegal pods can also be tough to track because they look like legal ones, but they are typically sold on the black market or in vape shops in places where marijuana is against the law.

Another issue Gregovitch sees is family members giving vaping pods to kids, falsely believing it’s a safer alternative.

“Parents can often be the suppliers, or older siblings, or aunts and uncles because they think it’s harmless,” Gregovitch says.

The state has 76 cases of lung injuries related to vaping with another 14 being investigated.