Cannabis Vaping Concerns Call for Increased Regulations and Oversight

Generic 13 September 2019 | 0 Comments

VaporizerThe 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.

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Mississippi: Proponents Turn In Signatures for 2020 Medical Cannabis Ballot Measure

Generic 7 September 2019 | 0 Comments

medical cannabis oilProponents of a 2020 statewide ballot measure to legalize and regulate medical cannabis access have submitted 105,686 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office.

To qualify for the November 2020 ballot, advocates must collect 86,185 certified signatures, with at least 17,237 certified signatures from each of the state’s five congressional districts. According to local news reports, proponents actually collected more than 214,000 total signatures, with 105,000 having been certified by local clerks.

The proposed constitutional amendment seeks to permit qualified patients to obtain medical cannabis products at state-licensed facilities.

A spokesperson for the group backing the campaign, Mississippians for Compassionate Care, said that the measure “polls above 77 percent, with [majority support from] every age group, religious affiliation, [and] political affiliation.”

Under Mississippi law, the possession of cannabis for medical purposes is illegal except for the use of certain CBD extracts in patients with pediatric epilepsy.

Thirty-three states currently permit access to plant-derived medical cannabis.

For more information on the campaign, visit the website: https://www.medicalmarijuana2020.com/.

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Vaping Products Linked with Rising Number of Hospitalizations

Generic 7 September 2019 | 0 Comments

VaporizerThe US Centers for Disease Control has now identified over 450 cases of respiratory distress that may be associated with the use of disposable vapor cartridges used to consume certain e-liquids.

While initial cases of the phenomenon were associated with consumption of cannabinoid oil products via the use of unregulated vapor cartridges, the CDC reports that some cases have also been linked to the use of nicotine only.

Three people have died as a result of the illness, and a fourth death is under investigation.

In New York State, where 34 cases have been reported, health officials reported the identification of “very high levels of vitamin E acetate in nearly all cannabis-containing samples analyzed.” The inhalation of vitamin E oil has previously been linked with lipoid pneumonia. Medical reports have previously identified an association between vitamin E oil exposure and the vaping of both cannabis and nicotine liquid products, according to a NBC News investigative report. Reporting by Leafly.com suggests that additives may be introduced to unregulated oil products in an effort to thicken their consistency and to mask dilution.

The Health Department bulletin warns: “Anyone using vape products should never use unregulated products purchased ‘off the street.’ … These unregulated products are not tested and may contain harmful substances.” The agency has posted pictures of some of the products linked to the ailments here.

NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “These unfortunate incidents reinforce the need for greater regulation, standardization, and oversight of the cannabis market — principles which NORML has consistently called for in the cannabis space. Consumers must also be aware that not all products are created equal; quality control testing is critical and only exists in the legally regulated marketplace.”

Nonetheless, a review of the phenomenon published Friday in The New England Journal of Medicine acknowledges, “[N]o conclusions can [yet] be drawn as to which compound or compounds are the causes of injury.” The CDC similarly affirms, “No single product [has been] linked to all cases of lung disease.” The agency adds, “While this investigation is ongoing, people should consider not using e-cigarette products.”

While there exists only limited data assessing the safety of vaporized cannabinoid oil products, scientists have conducted multiple investigations of the use of technologically advanced (non-disposable) vaporization devices on cannabis plant material. In one study performed by investigators at San Francisco General Hospital, researchers reported that use of the Volcano vaporizing device did “not result in [subjects’] exposure to combustion gases.” Authors concluded, “The Volcano [vaporizer] device is an effective and apparently safe vehicle for THC delivery.” In another study, Dutch researchers similarly reported, “Our results show that with the Volcano a safe and effective cannabinoid delivery system seems to be available to patients. The final pulmonal uptake of THC is comparable to the smoking of cannabis, while avoiding the respiratory disadvantages of smoking.”

The latest update from the CDC is online here. The bulletin from the New York State Department of Health is online here. Ongoing reporting from Leafly.com is online here. A Leafly.com primer on the topic, “Vape Pen Lung Disease: Here’s What You Need to Know,” is online here.

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Washington, DC: City Council Approves Workplace Protections for Medical Cannabis Patients

Generic 6 September 2019 | 0 Comments

District council members have enacted legislation — Act Number A23-0114: The Medical Marijuana Program Patient Employment Protection Temporary Amendment Act — to protect qualified patients from workplace discrimination.

The Act states, “A public employer may not refuse to hire, terminate from employment, penalize, fail to promote, or otherwise take adverse employment action against an individual based upon the individual’s status as a qualifying [medical cannabis] patient unless the individual used, possessed, or was impaired by marijuana at the individual’s place of employment or during the hours of employment.”

It further states, “A qualifying patient’s failure to pass a public employer-administered drug test for marijuana components or metabolites may not be used as a basis for employment-related decisions unless reasonable suspicion exists that the qualified patients was impaired by marijuana at the qualifying patient’s place of employment or during hours of employment.”

The law does not apply to either employees in “safety sensitive positions” or to those who are required to undergo drug testing as a federal requirement.

Council members voted 12 to zero in favor of the proposal. Mayor Muriel Bowser did not sign the measure.

Like all District legislation, the act must undergo a 30-day Congressional review prior to taking effect.

Commenting on the Act, NORML State Policies Coordinator Carly Wolf said: “Employment protections are critical to ensure that law-abiding adults are not unduly discriminated against in their efforts to be productive members of society solely because of their use of medical cannabis while away from the job. The enactment of this law will provide clarity to employers and peace of mind to the employees who work in the District of Columbia.”

To date, 15 states provide workplace protections for medical cannabis patients. Two states, Maine and Nevada, provide limit certain non-safety sensitive employers from taking punitive actions against any adult who uses cannabis while off the job.

Read the full text of the Act here.

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Report: Domestic Hemp Production Soaring in 2019

Generic 6 September 2019 | 0 Comments

State regulators licensed farmers and researchers to cultivate over 500,000 total acres of industrial hemp in the first half of 2019, according to data compiled by the organization VoteHemp.com.

“Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp cultivation in the US has grown rapidly,” the group summarizes in a press release. “The number of acres of hemp licensed across 34 states totaled 511,442 in 2019 – more than quadruple the number of acres licensed from the previous year. State licenses to cultivate hemp were issued to 16,877 farmers and researchers, a 476 percent increase over 2018 [totals].”

Congress enacted legislation in December removing industrial hemp (defined as cannabis containing less than 0.3 percent THC) and products containing cannabinoids derived from hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act. However, the United States Department of Agriculture is still in the process of finalizing federal regulations to oversee the plant’s commercial production.

Currently, 46 states have redefined hemp as a crop distinct from cannabis, according to VoteHemp.

The full text of VoteHemp’s 2019 crop report is online here.

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