The cannabis industry has been taking a front row seat to the new developments coming from the emergency vape regulations passed down from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board in October 16th, 2019. Several deaths and 800+ hospitalizations stemming from vaping with cannabis liquids has left the industry looking hoping that national regulation can steer vaping in the right direction. Let’s look at what we know about the cause of these vaping illnesses and how the cannabis industry is approaching the aftermath of these new emergency vaping regulations.
The Current State of Vaping in America
Vape cartridges have been lauded as some of the best delivery methods in recent years for reducing inflammation and pain. The delivery method of vaping has made it great for recreation, discretion, and more from the beginning.
In recent months following the news of widespread vaping illnesses, vaping sales dropped by 20-25% overall in Washington. Many retailers have been feeling the decline firsthand in their pocketbooks. When news of the vape-related illnesses and deaths grabbed national headlines, many customers stopped vaping altogether.
The Root Cause of Vaping Illnesses
The root cause for the 800+ reported illnesses from vaping recently was found to be THC according to the CDC. Of course, there is still an ongoing investigation regarding this measure, but many have speculated that THC or some other substance added to the vaping liquid, such as thickeners, are the source of the issue at hand.
In early September, health officials in New York State publicly acknowledged finding high levels of vitamin E oil in several unregulated cannabis-vape products, all of which were suspected to be linked to the illness. Other reports have suggested that the abundance of heavy metals present in cheaply manufactured vape pens may have contributed to this string of illnesses.
What the Emergency Vape Regulations Call For
The emergency vape regulations require that all licensees must immediately halt the sale of all flavored vape products in the state of Washington. Those businesses must also disclose all compounds, such as ingredients, solvents, additives, preservatives, thickening agents and terpenes, that are added to or used to produce cannabis concentrates and extracts intended for inhalation. Retailers are required to post a vape-related warning sign at all their locations. Finally, the emergency regulations mandate that licensees cooperate with an ongoing investigation into which products have been involved with cases of vape-related lung illnesses in Washington.
How is the Cannabis Industry Reacting To This News?
Although sales have dipped and regulations are beginning to increase, much of the cannabis industry is welcoming these new regulations with open arms. Parts of the industry feels that the more time that is spent on regulation of vaping helps to legitimize the cannabis industry and help drive quality control. This push for quality control could help save lives and possibly push the U.S. towards wider cannabis legalization in the future.
One such group in the cannabis industry, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), put out a call to Congress to deal with vaping-related illnesses, legalize cannabis and regulate the industry at large. Seeing that cannabis’ status as a federally illegal substance fuels illicit products, hinders research and limits the ability to develop consistent regulations, you can see how a little regulation may be a step in the right direction for the health of consumers and the future of the cannabis industry.