On Wednesday, President Trump announced his plans to ban FDA-regulated nicotine flavored vapor liquids. This will affect 10 million nicotine vapor users, 10,000 small business owners, and do absolutely nothing to combat the illegal market THC vapor products currently making people sick.
Banning nicotine products for a THC issue makes no sense! Instead, a commonsense approach to this issue would be to legalize and regulate THC vapor products nationwide.
Marijuana has long maintained a reputation for posing few direct health risks to users, but illegal market THC vapor products are threatening to tarnish this reputation and jeopardize the public health. Stories of teens and adults hospitalized by illegal market THC vapor cartridges are increasingly making waves nationally, and are likely to come to prevalence in Arizona as well.
The growing market for illegal cartridges is fueled partly by the illegal market’s ability to undercut legal THC prices, but also by prohibition laws which drive users underground. In both cases, illicit sellers can dilute their product with whatever they want, including synthetic cannabis and pesticides. Consumers have no way to know this, and— in states where adult-use THC remains illegal – little recourse is available to them if they did.
Passing legalization is a necessary tool to safeguard the public health from this threat.
A major reason for the popularity of fake cartridges is that recreational users in states like Arizona often have few alternatives. Illegal market consumers are particularly incentivized to prefer vapor-based THC over other forms, due to its discrete, odorless nature and resemblance to nicotine products.
Legalization will combat the illegal market by giving all users the option to openly purchase lab-tested marijuana from state-regulated retailers. This includes alternatives to vapor products such as topical creams, edibles, tinctures, and pills. Earlier this year, MITA helped pass mandatory testing statutes so that all THC products will be rigorously tested for pesticides, contaminants, and potency, and that the test results must be provided to consumers upon request so they know exactly what is in their vapor cartridge.
Market-based solutions to the illegal THC vape problem can also be employed. Manufacturers in cannabis-legal states have already responded to counterfeit products with the use of holographic seals and inventory-tracking, and suing counterfeiters under intellectual property law.
—Tory Roberg is a political consultant with Fortitude AZ and the lobbyist for MITA