September 13, 2019
The Trump administration is sounding the alarm against the manufacture and marketing of certain vape products at a time when health officials nationwide are scrambling to determine why some consumers are suddenly becoming sick from the use of certain vaping devices. But while the administration’s pending actions will no doubt influence commercial activities in the legal nicotine marketplace, they will have little if any impact on the gray market surrounding unregulated cannabis vapor cartridges – counterfeit products that have been primarily associated with the recent outbreak of serious lung illnesses in various states.
… This gray market exists and proliferates largely because cannabis and cannabis products remain classified as Schedule I prohibited controlled substances under federal law – a classification that is shared with heroin and LSD. This federal prohibition has made it historically difficult to clinically study the safety of these cannabis-oil delivery devices. As a result, the FDA is powerless to provide regulatory recommendations, standards, oversight, or quality controls to this rapidly emerging market.
… Instead, this heavy burden relies on state regulators in those jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis use. But these regulations are far from consistent from state to state and far from comprehensive. In some cases, they are also unable to keep up to speed with rapid changes in these products’ manufacturing practices.
… In short, until there is some change in the federal status of cannabis, consumers of these cannabis-oil vape products are going to continue to be in situations where they don’t confidently know whether or not they are getting an independently tested, quality product or some unlicensed knock-off.
… Rather than use these unfortunate incidents as an opportunity to further drive these markets into the shadows, the administration should officially legalize cannabis and empower the FDA to better study, regulate, and oversee these emerging THC and CBD delivery devices — and to create regulatory standards for legal states to follow and enforce.
Read the full text of this commentary on the Leafly.com website here.