Your cannabis briefing: Has your state ban vaping?

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On September 27, 2019, the CDC released its findings on the multistate outbreak of lung injury associated with e-cigarette product use or vaping. 

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The report: Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with E-Cigarette Use, or Vaping report informs that As of September 24, 2019, at 5 pm, 805 lung injury cases associated with the use of e-cigarette or vaping products have been reported to CDC.

On top of that, 2 deaths have been confirmed in California, with a total of 12 deaths confirmed nationally. 

The report further confirms that 77 percent of the patients reported using THC-containing products or both THC and nicotine-containing products. 

 It is in light of this that administration officials are calling for a ban of THC-containing vape cartridges. 

List of states that have banned vaping cartridges so far

First off, the panic in public health about the increasing cases of lung illnesses caused by vaping has seen states start to ban and restrict vaping products. Currently, the states that have implemented vaping bans include:

Washington State

On Friday 27, the Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee issued an executive order ban on flavored vaping products for both nicotine and THC products.

 Furthermore, he has directed the Board of Heath to vote on a total ban (of vaping products) on its next sitting on October 9. He has also said he will be pushing for legislation to make the prohibition permanent.

 Rhode Island

 Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) signed an executive order on September 25 barring the sale of flavored e-cigarettes throughout the state. State officials say the regulations will be effective for 4 months and could be extended for another 2 months. However, the ban does not apply to marijuana and unflavored tobacco products.

Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker (R), on September 24 declared vaping a “public health emergency”. He has announced a four-month ban that will last to January 25, 2020, on all vaping products (both flavored and non-flavored products) in both retail stores and online.

release from Baker’s office further states: “The use of e-cigarettes and marijuana vaping products is exploding and we are seeing reports of serious lung illnesses, particularly in our young people,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The purpose of this public health emergency is to temporarily pause all sales of vaping products so that we can work with our medical experts to identify what is making people sick and how to better regulate these products to protect the health of our residents.”

Michigan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was the first to ban flavored nicotine vaping products to keep kids ‘safe’

In her statement on September 3 she said “As governor, my number one priority is keeping our kids safe and right now, companies selling vaping products are using candy flavors to hook children on nicotine and misleading claims to promote the belief that these products are safe. That ends today.”

The emergency ban was started on Sept. 18 and will be in force for 180 days. Additionally, it can be extended for another 6 months after that. On top of that, Michigan lawmakers are also working on a permanent policy to handle the issue.

New York

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on September 17 announced that New York State is the first state in the nation to implement a ban on the sale of flavored electronic cigarettes and nicotine e-liquids, following a vote on emergency regulations by the Public Health and Health Planning Council

The New York Department of Health has given retailers a 2 week grace period to comply. After which, as of Friday, October 4 the ban will come to force. In light of this, retailers who violate the ban will face fines of up to $2,000 per violation. This is defined as each unit of flavored e-liquid or product containing e-liquid that is possessed, manufactured, sold or offered for sale.

However, it is important to note that mint and menthol e-liquids have not been subject to the ban. According to Cuomo’s office, the state’s health commissioner is evaluating an additional ban on menthol products

Gov Cuomo is expected to renew the ban every 90 days.  

California

Unlike his counterparts, Gov. Gavin Newsom under executive order N-18-19 of 16 th September 2019, choose not to outrightly ban vaping products. Rather he took the preventive route on ways to curtail the state’s vaping epidemic. 

The orders in the paper include:

i) Reducing the availability of vaping products to persons under 21 years

ii) Retailers and advertisements to have warning signs about the health risks of vaping

iii) Allocation of $20 million for a “vaping awareness campaign” 

iv)  Removal of illegal and counterfeit vaping products by law enforcement

Federal Ban

On the federal level, the Food and Drug Administration is preparing a ban on flavors in nicotine e-cigarettes that were endorsed Sept. 11 by President Trump. 

The administration seeks to prohibit retail and online sales of flavored vaping products except for tobacco-flavored products.

 The order is expected to come into place in the coming weeks. Consequently, it will remove flavored products from the market until, and if, they get a seal of approval from the FDA.

However, it is important to note that, both the state and federal actions to ban vaping products could be delayed or blocked by legal challenges.

Legal battles

It is expected that those in the vaping business would not go down without a fight. In that case, the Vapor Technology Association with two New York-based businesses has sued to try and stop the New York ban. 

Furthermore, in Michigan, a vape shop filed a suit in a bid to block the flavor ban. Whereas in Massachusetts, owners of Mass Dynamics in Weymouth, Boston Vapor in Salem, New Hampshire and Vick’s Vape Shop in Medford have filed a complaint in federal court. They are alleging that the ban is unconstitutional and will do irreparable harm to their businesses. Moreover, other store owners are interested in joining the suit.

Take home

The mass hysteria on public health regarding vaping products is warranted. And, it is not going away any time soon. 

As a vaper, it would be prudent to do due diligence when buying vaping products. Finally, make your purchases from legal dispensaries and buy products with a batch number.

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