On October 9th Washington state regulators voted to impose a temporary halt on the sale of flavored tobacco and marijuana vaporizer products. This makes it the second State to limit vape products after Massachusetts imposed similar rules.
The Board of Health voted 7-1 to impose a 120 emergency ban which took effect October 10th.
The impact on vape cartridge makers in the State of Washington could be huge, as some of the top selling companies are currently using flavorings that will now be outlawed.
This ban is for 120 days, and it will give lawmakers the time to revist the current situation with vape products. If they deem necessary, they may renew the ban, or let it expire.
Regulators have defined flavors as anything other than the “taste or aroma of tobacco or marijuana.” So far the ban does not cover hemp or marijuana derived flavorings for THC products.
Some of the banned flavors in Washington are: Any fruit flavor, chocolate, vanilla, honey, candy, cocoa, dessert, menthol, wintergreen, herb, and spice.
Similarly, Oregon regulators have enacted a 6 month emergency ban on flavored vape products whether it be tobacco or THC.
Oregon's ban has made the use of any flavoring that is not marijuana derived being used in THC products illegal for the next 6 months.
In the most recent rash of vape related illnesses and deaths two of the victims that have died from vape related illness were Oregon residents. This pushed Governor Kate Brown to order a the temporary ban.
The Oregon ban went into effect October 15th and expires April 11th.
At this point in the marijuana game no one really knows the long term health effects of smoking vape products that have either artificial, or non-marijuana derived terpenes in them. These bans are a first step to give the local regulators time to do more research, and see if there really is an issue with regulated products, or if the issue is actually with illegal black market cartridges.
In many of the reported cases across the US, the consumers were vaping from bootlegged cartridges that were not made in a regulated facility. The marijuana grown for the extraction of THC was not regulated, nor was the process of creating the oil or adding the additives.
People in the industry want to point their fingers at these illegal carts, while regulators want to play it safe and see if they are allowing legal manufacturers to make products that may actually be hurting consumers.
These temporary bans will no doubt effect small businesses that are currently making flavored vape products, but does allow the State regulators more time to investigate the issues. In the end both groups want to make sure that the products that are legally available for purchase are safe for their users. There is however a disagreement on how to achieve this goal.
This situation gets even more confusing when we calculate how many people die each year from smoking related deaths associated with tobacco. There is not an emergency ban on any tobacco products, so why are regulators in such a hurry with these current bans?