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Lax THC vape rules still allow toxins into your lungs

Lax THC vape rules still allow toxins into your lungs

THC vape toxins are still prevalent

In 2019 and 2020, vaping-associated lung injuries killed 68 people and injured 2,807 across the United States. As reported by Leafly and later confirmed by officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those injuries and deaths were almost exclusively associated with unlicensed THC vape cartridges purchased from the illicit market.

 

At the heart of the health crisis was a relatively new vape cartridge additive known as vitamin E acetate. Unlicensed cartridge manufacturers were using the substance, a common ingredient in beard cream, to thicken the cartridge oil and boost profit margins.

After the poisonings, officials at the CDC said the number one thing state cannabis regulators could do to protect public health was ensure that “chemicals of concern” like vitamin E acetate did not enter the state-licensed THC vape cartridge supply.

As of early 2021, cannabis regulators have not done that.

 

A Leafly investigation into current and forthcoming regulations around THC vape cartridges in the 15 legal cannabis states reveals that more than a year after the vape lung (also known as EVALI or VAPI) crisis, a few states have banned vitamin E oil, but not a single state upgraded its THC vape cartridge testing requirements up to the standard currently required for all nicotine vape cartridges in Europe and Canada.

State cannabis regulators have generally done a great job of protecting the health of consumers by requiring tests for toxins like pesticides, residual solvents, heavy metals, mold, and bacteria. Manufacturers are also required to test and disclose the exact potency of every product on the label.

But sometime around late 2018, THC vape cartridges escaped the bounds of those safeguards. A new wave of novel cartridge oil additives, thickeners, thinners, diluents, and artificial flavors began flooding the market. The new additives were mostly limited to illicit-market vape carts, but a few seeped into the legal regulated market as well.

Those new additives included:

  • Vitamin E acetate, aka beard cream oil
  • Squalene, a shark liver oil substance
  • Thousands of food flavorings not approved for inhalation

What kept these toxins from flooding into the legal THC vape supply? Only the good conscience of many licensed vape cartridge manufacturers—and a bit of luck. Nothing in the regulatory system of any state would have prohibited most of the new wave of additives.

 

Even today, the existing patchwork of state rules—with their yawning safety gaps and a total absence of federal oversight—has experts throwing up their hands.

Vape chemistry and regulations expert David Heldreth Jr. stepped down as the Chief Science Officer of a vape flavoring company. “It’s painful,” he told Leafly. “It’s one of those things where the industry just popped up and grew so quickly, it’s really difficult to keep up with what people innovate.”

CannaCraft, California’s biggest vape maker, forbids non-cannabis ingredients in its products, citing a lack of safety data. But the only thing keeping the company from adding mystery flavorings is the integrity of company officials. Many in the industry are doing it right. Others have less scruples. Consumers have few ways to tell.

“I think we do a lot of things well, but there’s certainly room for improvement,” said Matthew Elmes, a molecular biologist and Director of Scientific Affairs for CannaCraft. “There are so many things that aren’t tested for, and we don’t know, as consumers, what’s going on there.”

Leafly’s comprehensive review of THC vape cartridge rules in the 15 legal cannabis states found loopholes where those chemicals can get in.

Jamaica faces marijuana shortage as farmers struggle

Jamaica faces marijuana shortage as farmers struggle

Jamaican cannabis industry struggles due to supply and demand

Jamaica is running low on ganja.

Heavy rains followed by an extended drought, an increase in local consumption and a drop in the number of marijuana farmers have caused a shortage in the island’s famed but largely illegal market that experts say is the worst they’ve seen.

“It’s a cultural embarrassment,” said Triston Thompson, chief opportunity explorer for Tacaya, a consulting and brokerage firm for the country’s nascent legal cannabis industry.

Jamaica, which foreigners have long associated with pot, reggae and Rastafarians, authorized a regulated medical marijuana industry and decriminalized small amounts of weed in 2015.

People caught with 2 ounces (56 grams) or less of cannabis are supposed to pay a small fine and face no arrest or criminal record. The island also allows individuals to cultivate up to five plants, and Rastafarians are legally allowed to smoke ganja for sacramental purposes.

But enforcement is spotty as many tourists and locals continue to buy marijuana on the street, where it has grown more scarce — and more expensive.

Heavy rains during last year’s hurricane season pummeled marijuana fields that were later scorched in the drought that followed, causing tens of thousands of dollars in losses, according to farmers who cultivate pot outside the legal system.

“It destroyed everything,” said Daneyel Bozra, who grows marijuana in the southwest part of Jamaica, in a historical village called Accompong founded by escaped 18th-century slaves known as Maroons.

Worsening the problem were strict COVID-19 measures, including a 6 p.m. curfew that meant farmers couldn’t tend to their fields at night as is routine, said Kenrick Wallace, 29, who cultivates 2 acres (nearly a hectare) in Accompong with the help of 20 other farmers.

He noted that a lack of roads forces many farmers to walk to reach their fields — and then to get water from wells and springs. Many were unable to do those chores at night due to the curfew.

Wallace estimated he lost more than $18,000 in recent months and cultivated only 300 pounds, compared with an average of 700 to 800 pounds the group normally produces.

Activists say they believe the pandemic and a loosening of Jamaica’s marijuana laws has led to an increase in local consumption that has contributed to the scarcity, even if the pandemic has put a dent in the arrival of ganja-seeking tourists.

“Last year was the worst year. … We’ve never had this amount of loss,” Thompson said. “It’s something so laughable that cannabis is short in Jamaica.”

Tourists, too, have taken note, placing posts on travel websites about difficulties finding the drug.

Read the Full Story from AP

Idaho Senate Passes Measure To Block Marijuana Legalization

Idaho Senate Passes Measure To Block Marijuana Legalization

Idaho cannabis legalization blocked by state senate

The Idaho Senate on Wednesday approved a resolution to amend the state Constitution to prevent marijuana or other drugs from being legalized.

If the House follows suit, the action could create serious complications for activists who are seeking to put cannabis reform measures on Idaho’s 2022 ballot.

The Senate State Affairs Committee approved the resolution along party lines last week, and the full chamber has now passed it 24-11. If it gets a two-thirds majority in the House as well it will be placed before voters on the midterm election ballot.

The measure stipulates that “the production, manufacture, transportation, sale, delivery, dispensing, distribution, possession, or use of a psychoactive drug shall not be permitted in the state of Idaho.”

It would make an exception for substances that are approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but it would effectively kneecap efforts to establish a medical cannabis program that looks anything like those implemented in other legal states.

What makes the measure problematic for advocates is that, should the legislature ultimately approve it, the resulting constitutional initiative on ballot would take precedence over any statutory legalization measures that appear alongside it, regardless of the margin that any measure ultimately gets approved by.

Activists are dealing with this development as they work to collect signatures on an initiative to legalize medical cannabis and while a separate group is preparing to place adult-use legalization before voters.

The Senate-approved resolution says that the “normalization of illicit drug use is having a profound negative impact on Idaho citizens” and, therefore, it is “reasonable and necessary” to enact the constitutional change.

Activists say the proposal is anything but reasonable and is intended to undermine the democratic process, misleading voters by neglecting to directly explain how the measure would impact medical cannabis reform efforts and instead referring broadly to “psychoactive drugs.”

Here’s the language of the constitutional amendment that the lawmakers hope to place before voters: 

“Shall Article III of the Constitution of the State of Idaho be amended by the addition of a new Section 30 to provide that the production, manufacture, transportation, sale, delivery, dispensing, distribution, possession, or use of certain psychoactive drugs shall not be lawful in the State of Idaho unless such drugs are: (a) approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration and permitted by the state; (b) lawfully prescribed; and (c) lawfully dispensed?”

If approved, that would mean that Kind Idaho’s medical cannabis legalization measure and another initiative in the works to legalize for recreational purposes would be rendered null and void, regardless of whether a majority of Idahoans passed either of them.

Lawmakers reintroduce recreational Minnesota cannabis legislation

Lawmakers reintroduce recreational Minnesota cannabis legislation

Minnesota cannabis legalization bill introduced again

On Monday, House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler and other Democrat lawmakers reintroduced recreational adult-use cannabis legislation that addresses criminal justice inequities created by the current system and also allows law enforcement to focus on more serious issues, according to the bill.

The DFL says the adult-use cannabis bill is based on conversations with Minnesotans during the statewide “Be Heard on Cannabis” tour, which hosted town hall meetings in 15 communities spanning urban, suburban and rural parts of the state. Additionally, meetings were held with more than 30 organizations and associations, as well as consulting with Gov. Tim Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and 13 state agencies. A House of Representatives spokesperson said 250 meetings were held with individuals and groups.

“The failed criminalization of cannabis has resulted in a legacy of racial injustice that can no longer go unaddressed,” Winkler, the bill’s chief author, said. “Adults deserve the freedom to decide whether to use cannabis, and our state government should play an important role in addressing legitimate concerns around youth access, public health, and road safety. Veterans and Minnesotans with serious illnesses like PTSD deserve better access to our medical program, which is not working well for most people. It’s time to legalize, expunge, and regulate.”

The proposal would “create a responsible regulatory structure focused on developing micro-businesses and a craft market; expunge most cannabis convictions; fund public health awareness, youth access prevention, and substance abuse treatment; provide grants, loans, technical assistance, and training for small businesses; require testing and labeling of products; restrict packaging based on dosage size; and allow limited home grow abilities.”

“It’s clear that our current cannabis laws aren’t working for Minnesota,” House Speaker Melissa Hortman said in a statement. “Smart, sensible legislation can address racial inequities in our criminal justice system, tackle the harms caused by cannabis, and ensure better outcomes for communities.”

According to the House, Black and white Minnesotans consume cannabis at very similar rates, yet Black Minnesotans make up 30% of cannabis arrests while representing just 5% of the population.

“The legalization of adult use-cannabis will result in health, economic, criminal justice, and civil rights benefits for Minnesotans, benefits already experienced by those in other states that have eliminated the criminal prohibition,” said Rep. Rena Moran (DFL-St. Paul). “Minnesotans, especially those from Black, Indigenous, and communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted will have an opportunity to live better lives and contribute to society by participating in the workforce. People have made their voices clear across the state, and it’s time to end our current harmful policies on cannabis.”

As of Nov. 4, 2020, voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota approved measures to regulate cannabis for adult-use. That brings the total to 15 states and three territories. A total of 36 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have approved comprehensive, publicly available medical marijuana/cannabis programs.

“I remain committed to supporting a path forward for a responsible framework to legalize cannabis in our state. For too long we have turned a blind eye to the effects that prohibition has had on many of our communities of color,” said Sen. Melisa Franzen (DFL-Edina). “As more states continue to remove barriers to embark in this industry, Minnesota must not be left behind. We should lead the way toward ensuring public health and safety considerations are at the forefront of any legislation.”

The next steps, following the bill’s introduction Monday, will be a series of public hearings that allow residents to ask questions and provide input on the matter.

Pennsylvania governor makes budget pitch for legal cannabis in 2021

Pennsylvania governor makes budget pitch for legal cannabis in 2021

Pennsylvania cannabis legalization could happen in 2021

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, as expected, has made legalizing recreational cannabis one of his administration’s top legislative priorities this year.

Wolf highlighted recreational marijuana in his budget proposal Wednesday and mentioned the urgency given adult-use legalization in neighboring New Jersey and the legalization push in New York.

“Now as our neighbors move toward legalizing recreational marijuana, we cannot afford to be left behind,” Wolf said in a news release laying out his legislative plan.

The plan didn’t provide licensing details.

But it did note that part of the revenue generated from legalization would be used for grants to support historically disadvantaged small businesses.

Marijuana Business Daily projects that an adult-use market in Pennsylvania would generate $800 million in sales in the program’s first full year and $1.8 billion in annual sales by the fourth year.

Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled Senate is seen as the biggest obstacle to legalization.

Wolf, a Democrat, emphasized the issue’s bipartisan support among residents and the bipartisan support that occurred when Pennsylvania lawmakers legalized medical cannabis in 2016.

Pennsylvania’s MMJ market, by most accounts, has been a success since sales began in 2018, which could help persuade lawmakers to pass a recreational marijuana program.

Democrat Senate Leaders Announce Steps To Federally Legalize Marijuana In 2021

Democrat Senate Leaders Announce Steps To Federally Legalize Marijuana In 2021

Democrat senate leaders make plans to federally legalize marijuana in 2021

Three leading champions of marijuana reform in Congress said on Monday that the issue will be prioritized in the new Democratic Senate this year and that they plan to release draft legislation in the coming weeks to begin a conversation about what the federal policy change will look like.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said in a joint statement that ending cannabis prohibition “is necessary to right the wrongs of this failed war and end decades of harm inflicted on communities of color across the country,” but that alone “is not enough.”

Three leading champions of marijuana reform in Congress said on Monday that the issue will be prioritized in the new Democratic Senate this year and that they plan to release draft legislation in the coming weeks to begin a conversation about what the federal policy change will look like.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said in a joint statement that ending cannabis prohibition “is necessary to right the wrongs of this failed war and end decades of harm inflicted on communities of color across the country,” but that alone “is not enough.”

The lawmakers, each of whom has advocated for federal legalization, said that “we must also enact measures that will lift up people who were unfairly targeted in the War on Drugs,” especially as more states opt to legalize.

“We are committed to working together to put forward and advance comprehensive cannabis reform legislation that will not only turn the page on this sad chapter in American history, but also undo the devastating consequences of these discriminatory policies,” they said. “The Senate will make consideration of these reforms a priority.”

This is a narrative that’s been building in recent months, with Schumer saying on several occasions both before and after the election that he would work to move reform legislation with his new power to control the Senate floor agenda. Since Democrats secured a majority in the chamber, the stage is set for action.

“In the early part of this year, we will release a unified discussion draft on comprehensive reform to ensure restorative justice, protect public health and implement responsible taxes and regulations,” the senators said. “Getting input from stakeholder groups will be an important part of developing this critical legislation.”

bill to federally deschedule cannabis cleared the House last year, but it did not advance in the GOP-controlled Senate. Lawmakers like Schumer and Booker stressed that Democrats reclaiming a majority in the chamber was an imperative for any comprehensive reform to pass this year.

“After years of marijuana policy reform being neglected and mocked by [Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)] it is heartening to see these Senate leaders working together to repeal the senseless and cruel policy of marijuana prohibition,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said.

“We look forward to constructively engaging with Congressional leaders, other organizations, and those communities that have historically been most impacted by criminalization in order to ensure that we craft the strongest and most comprehensive bill possible to right the wrongs of the nearly a century of federal cannabis prohibition,” he said.

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