A crisis for the legal cannabis industry could occur because of the reliance of the industry on vaping for an estimated quarter of its business in some states of the United States after the recent spate of vaping-related illnesses and deaths.
Some experts of the industry however are of the opinion that the issue of vaping related illness and deaths and the subsequent debate about it could be an opportunity to help people as well as creating an environment for adoption of a wider legislation in the US.
A call to the US Congress to legalize cannabis and regulate the cannabis industry in order to deal with the vaping-related illnesses was given by the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA).
The head of the cannabis trade association said that dealing of illicit products, hindering of research and limiting the chances of construction of consistent regulations has resulted because of the status of cannabis as a federally illegal substance. “These unfortunate illnesses and deaths are yet another terrible, and largely avoidable, consequence of failed prohibition policies,” Aaron Smith, the NCIA’s executive director, said in a statement.
The possible factors responsible for a multi-state outbreak of pulmonary diseases allegedly related to the recent increase in the use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices is being investigated by both US federal and state health officials. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 450 people have fallen sick and six people have died, allegedly in relation to vaping.
While government has not formally implicated any businesses or products for the outbreak, according to the CDC, they have said that some of the vaping products that are under the scanner did contain cannabis compounds, primarily the psychoactive THC. Many of the incidents of deaths and illness have been reported from those US states that do not have regulated recreational cannabis programs and there is growing suspicion that the illness is because of illicit or bootleg THC vaping devices as well as additives used in them.
“We are still in a bathtub-gin era with cannabis where there are a whole lot of people without access [to legal cannabis] and people who are not in the regulated market take advantage of this, and people who are new to the market take advantage of this,” said AC Braddock, CEO of Seattle-based Eden Labs, a 25-year-old manufacturer of equipment that extracts plant oils.
An d as far as the legal cannabis industry is concerned, since more of the government authorities and other bodies are warning against vaping or are moving to clamp down on it, a serious threat can stare at the cannabis industry even though the actual roots of the vaping issue is in the black market. According to cannabis research firm BDS Analytics, about 25 per cent of the licensed cannabis sales in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and Oregon were through vape products through July.
“This is, I think, a wake-up call to the industry and also to consumers about the fact that a very safe product can be rendered unsafe if the people processing it are not being held to account,” said Taylor West, former deputy director of the NCIA who is a founding partner of strategic communications firm Heart + Mind Media.
(Adapted from CNN.com)