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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Eight Missouri medical marijuana dispensaries, including three in the Kansas City area will be selling vape pens and cartridges for the first time Friday. Customers have clamored for them for some time, despite varying opinions on just how safe they are.

The potential dangers of vaping nicotine and black market THC have already been studied. The CDC hasn’t updated reports on lung injury associated with vaping products since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in February 2020, reported 2800 hospitalized cases of popcorn lung and 68 deaths.

When it comes to vaping medical marijuana, there are advantages. For some, the jury is still out. 

Mike Busby uses medical marijuana to treat pain and anxiety.

“The flowers, the edibles and the drinks I’ve tried them all,” he said picking up product Thursday. 

But since dispensaries opened late last year, he’s been asking about vape pens and cartridges which many find more convenient and quicker acting. 

“This is by far our number one request,” Greenlight C.E.O. John Mueller said.

Thursday evening medical marijuana vape pens were delivered to Greenlight’s dispensaries in Kansas City, Independence and Harrisonville. It’s the first time it’s been available in the state as it took time for cultivators to extract trim material down to a distillate form that could be vaporized.

“It’s an exciting day for the industry,” Mueller said opening the first box.

The Founder of Green Health Docs, which certifies medical marijuana users in 15 states, says he gets questions about vaping all the time from patients. About 40 percent end up vaping primarily. 

“We don’t really know long term the side effects of vaping,” Dr. Anand Dugar said.

Dugar said vaping’s biggest issues and their possible effect on your lungs have come from preservatives in black market products. 

“I think the difference with medical marijuana is we’re tested for 52 products where something that’s made in someone’s basement that goes into one of these vape stores isn’t tested to that stringent regulation,” Mueller said.

Dugar says vaping is an alternative to lighting up and will be especially popular for Missouri anxiety patients. He believes it safe based on usage so far, but offers this advice. 

“We’re now at point there’s so many different ways to take it. I think everyone should use their judgment and decide what’s best for them, because if any doctor tells you it’s safe 100% they are lying, there’s no way to know,” Dugar said.

Greenlight will begin selling vape products at its dispensaries at 10 a.m. Friday. Initially supply will be limited. Other dispensaries with contracts with different cultivators say they are working to meet a big demand from customers for the products as soon as they can.