On October 16, Washington responded to the outbreak of vaping related lung illnesses by adopting emergency regulations that ban the sale of flavored vape products within the state. Subsequently, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) issued a notice to all marijuana license holders directing them to implement the rules immediately.
The emergency rules required all license holders to stop the sale of all flavored vaping products. They were also required to disclose the components used in manufacturing the vaping products, such as the ingredients, additives, preservatives, solvents, thickening agents, and terpenes. The retailers were also required to post vaping-related caution signs at their outlets. In addition, they were also required to cooperate in the investigations on the products associated with the vaping related illness in D.C.
In an interview with Cannabis Business Times, the president of Urban Paragon, Inc., Targeted Intent In., and The Bakeree, Anna Shreeve said that it is critical to evaluate the vaping products to rule out the potential of any contaminant present.
The rules were placed on a four-month review period. Initially, the rules stipulated that the vapes should not have any additives such as Vitamin E oil, which, when heated, is converted into acetate.
The sale of vape products with food-grade terpenes was banned a week after the emergency rules were launched. The regulations further stated that only naturally derived terpenes from licensed marijuana growers would be allowed in the market.
Shreeve further said that the companies used food-grade terpenes in the vape products because consumers preferred them for their high potency and low prices.
Some of the cannabis processors in Washington used to purchase food-grades terpenes from companies that sell blended terpenes out of state. But, after the new rules termed it illegal, these companies could no longer source vape products outside D.C.
Companies and retailers dealing with food-grade terpenes suffered a significant amount of losses while those dealing with naturally derived terpenes gained a substantial share in the market.
The emergency rule also stipulates for the destruction of the non-compliant product. However, some retailers have stored the nonrefundable vaping products waiting for the end of the four-mouth review ruling, said Shreeve.
Shreeve further says that it is uncertain if the state will approve the food-grade terpenes after the review. If approved, the state of Washington would have to set up some measures to ensure that the products do not have any contaminants.
Companies using food-grade terpenes said that they do not have the equipment needed to process natural terpenes derived from the marijuana plant.
There are no federal regulations governing marijuana, and marijuana rules differ from state to state. Therefore, the responsibility of ensuring public safety lies with the retailers and the brands.
Laurel “Lo” Friesen is the CEO and Founder of Heylo Cannabis. He founded his community aiming to develop natural extracts. His company produces vape cartridges fitted with naturally derived terpenes. In an interview with Cannabis Business Times, Friesen said that vaping cartridges are useful in reducing inflammation or relieving pain, and their effect is immediate. She further said that her company focuses on quality by sourcing clean products from carefully selected growers. Besides, her company has been 100% transparent since the outbreak of vaping-related illness.
Friesen said that after the outbreak, the sale of vaping products decreased because some customers stopped vaping altogether.
Canna Organix is a hybrid greenhouse grower that produced both flavored and non-flavored vaping products. For the flavored, the company used to obtain the botanically-derived terpenes from an out of state company known as Werc Shop. However, after the release of the emergency rules, Canna Organix could not source terpenes out of state as it was illegal. The company was using in-house naturally derived terpenes. Canna Organix was not primarily affected by the emergency rules because, in a few weeks, the company bounced back to where it was before the ban on flavored vapes, said Kerry Bennett in an interview with Cannabis Business Times.
The vape crisis is an opportunity for the marijuana industry to improve production practices and for the federal government to enact rules that govern marijuana.
Other states that responded to the vape crisis with emergency regulations include Massachusetts, Oregon, and Colorado.